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NBA Rookie of the Year 2023-24: Victor Wembanyama has earned his stripes

NBA Rookie of the Year
Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Looking back, the 2023 NBA Rookie of the Year race had several first-year hoopers showing they belong at the pro level. While we didn’t see Chet Holmgren make an impact after the skilled big suffered a Lisfranc injury in Summer League, plenty of others, such as No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero, gave basketball fans a new star to talk about.

Now as we wrap up the 2023-24 season, we have a new list of candidates leading the way. Victor Wembanyama is a frontrunner. That’s no spoiler, but who else snuck up on the competition this year?

Banchero may have taken the 2023 NBA Rookie of the Year award last season, but who’s our in-house leader to win the Wilt Chamberlain Trophy in 2024? Here’s our list now that the regular season is over.

Related: NBA schedule

2023-24 NBA Rookie of the Year odds

Before we discuss the list of candidates, let’s consider who sportsbooks consider the best odds to win NBA Rookie of the Year.

Here are the players with the best odds to win NBA ROTY in 2024:

PlayerNBA ROY odds
Victor Wembanyama-5000
Chet Holmgren+2000
Brandon Miller+50000
2024 NBA Rookie of the Year odds provided by DraftKings

Below is Sportsnaut’s list of NBA Rookie of the Year candidates for the 2023-24 season, in reverse order.

Honorable mentions to win NBA Rookie of the Year:

  • GG Jackson II, Memphis Grizzlies
  • Bilal Coulibaly, Washington Wizards
  • Jordan Hawkins, New Orleans Pelicans
  • Gradey Dick, Toronto Raptors
  • Marcus Sasser, Detroit Pistons
  • Duop Reath, Portland Trail Blazers
  • Cason Wallace, Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Amen Thompson, Houston Rockets
  • Vasilije Micić, Oklahoma City Thunder

10. Ausar Thompson, Detroit Pistons (Last week: 10)

ausar thompson
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Ausar Thompson stats

  • 8.8 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.9 BPG, 48% FG, 18% 3PT

Prior to his season-ending injury due to blood clots, Thompson had been on the receiving end of several alley-oops, showing his impressive athleticism, but he had also been a strong defensive presence, ranking fourth among rookies in rebounds per game despite being just 6-foot-7. He may not be the NBA’s ROTY frontrunner, but the Pistons have found yet another key part of their young, talented core. Eventually, they will learn how to win. GG Jackson nearly stole Thompson’s spot, but he took 83 more shots than the Pistons rookie, yet only made eight more buckets.

Related: NBA Power Rankings: Latest rankings for all 30 teams

9. Cam Whitmore, Houston Rockets (LW: 9)

cam whitmore
Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Cam Whitmore stats

  • 12.3 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 45% FG, 35% 3PT

While the 19-year-old slipped to the 20th pick on draft day, Cam Whitmore showed why he deserved to be selected higher. On a tear since the start of the year (13.3 PPG), Whitmore fell too far behind to compete for the NBA Rookie of the Year award.

8. Dereck Lively II, Dallas Mavericks (LW: 8)

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Dallas Mavericks
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Dereck Lively II stats

  • 8.8 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 0.7 SPG, 74% FG

We’re seeing why the Mavericks were eager to plug the 12th overall pick in their starting lineup. Lively stayed in his lane and played within his skillset, leading to his sky-high field goal percentage. But Lively’s real claim to fame is being a nuisance on defense, including a beastly seven-block night against the Thunder. Lively is an outside candidate for Rookie of the Year, but surpassing the Wembanyamas and Holmgrens of the world was never going to happen.

Related: Dallas Mavericks Grant Williams trade was about moving a player who ‘rubbed a lot of people the wrong way’

7. Keyonte George, Utah Jazz (LW: 7)

keyonte george
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Keyonte George stats

  • 13 PPG, 4.4 APG, 2.8 RPG, 39% FG, 33% 3PT

Even though he’s not the point guard teams had their eye on at the top of the 2023 NBA Draft, George is making a name for himself in Utah. He ranked second among rookies in assists per game, and while his shooting splits could improve, averaging over ten points per game is a nice plus this early in the 20-year-old’s career. Breaking out for 33 points against the Warriors was just a hint of what he can offer in the future, and now George has a featured role on a rising Jazz team that should be able to compete for a playoff spot next season.

6. Jaime Jaquez Jr., Miami Heat (LW: 6)

jaime jaquez
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Jaime Jaquez stats

  • 11.9 PPG, 2.6 APG, 3.8 RPG, 1 SPG, 48% FG, 32% 3PT

The 18th overall pick out of UCLA, Jaime Jaquez quickly developed into one of the best shooters on the Miami Heat. Jaquez doesn’t hesitate to fire up shots from distance, which is exactly what the Heat need to complement the likes of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. The one they call ‘Juan Wick’ rapidly rose up NBA Rookie of the Year rankings. But scoring in single digits in six out of his last nine games and the addition of Terry Rozier slowed down his momentum.

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5. Brandin Podziemski, Golden State Warriors (LW: 5)

brandin podziemski
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Brandin Podziemski stats

  • 9.2 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.7 APG, 45% FG, 38% 3PT

The 19th overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, Podziemski’s role continued to develop with the Warriors during his rookie season. When you can make 38% of your 3-point attempts while also being active on the glass and in passing lanes, you deserve more playing time. Podziemski has done everything he can to ensure Steve Kerr can’t take him off the floor, earning him a place on the Rookie of the Year radar for good. Scoring 25 points, while being a perfect 5-for-5 from 3 against the Clippers is just a glimpse of what ‘Podz’ can offer in the future.

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4. Scoot Henderson, Portland Trail Blazers (LW: 4)

NBA: Summer League-Portland Trail Blazers at Houston Rockets
Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

Scoot Henderson stats

  • 14 PPG, 5.4 APG, 3.1 RPG, 0.8 SPG, 38% FG, 32% 3PT

Somehow falling to the third pick, Henderson likely would have been in the running to be a top pick in many other draft classes. The former G-League star got off to a cold start, averaging just 8.3 PPG while shooting 33% from the floor and 19% from distance between Oct. and Nov. Then Henderson woke up a bit in December, where he’s since averaged 15 PPG while shooting 39% from the floor and 34% from distance. Still just 20, he has plenty of time to figure the NBA out, but the improvement mid-season was encouraging.

Related: Portland Trail Blazers rookie Scoot Henderson puts NBA on notice with bold claims

3. Brandon Miller, Charlotte Hornets (LW: 3)

NBA: Kings Summer Classic-Golden State Warriors at Charlotte Hornets
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Miller stats

  • 17.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.4 APG, 44% FG, 37% 3PT

By deciding to go with Brandon Miller over Scoot Henderson, the Hornets added a high-upside talent who could become the team’s top scorer in time. Miller has some deficiencies to work through, but he still finished in second place among rookie scorers, which included a 32-point outburst against the Magic. With just nine games scoring in single digits as a rookie, it’s only a matter of time before he has a signature moment in the NBA.

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2. Chet Holmgren, Oklahoma City Thunder (LW: 2)

chet holmgren
Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Chet Holmgren stats

  • 16.5 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 2.3 BPG, 53% FG, 37% 3PT

Chet Holmgren was a sniper from deep while ranking second in the NBA in blocks during his rookie season. If it weren’t for Wembanyama’s special season, Holmgren would have been a runaway candidate to win Rookie of the Year. While he’s not winning the race, Holmgren was much more efficient as a scorer than his lanky cohort. Plus, it’s not like Holmgren hasn’t been superb defensively, either, where he ranked sixth in the NBA in defensive win shares (4.4).

1. Victor Wembanyama, San Antonio Spurs (LW: 1)

NBA: San Antonio Spurs-Press Conference
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Victor Wembanyama stats

  • 21.4 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 3.6 BPG, 1.2 SPG, 46% FG, 32% 3PT

Defensively, Wembanyama is a problem for any opponent he faces. Yet offensively, could still improve his efficiency, as he had to take 16.7 shots per game just to average 21 points per contest. That’s not ideal, but this is far from his final form. Wemby already shines the glass with the best of them, ranking fourth in the NBA in defensive rebounding rate at a ridiculous 30.7%, and he also led the league in blocks per game too. Thanks to his final stretch of dominant play, Wemby is our overwhelming favorite to win NBA Rookie of the Year, but Holmgren put up a strong fight.

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Who won the 2023 NBA Rookie of the Year?

After averaging 20 PPG and leading all first-year players, Paolo Banchero of the Orlando Magic won the 2023 NBA Rookie of the Year award. He was the first No. 1 pick to win ROTY since 2018. Can Victor Wembanyama make it a trend?

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Has anyone won MVP and Rookie of the Year NBA?

Both Wilt Chamberlain and Wes Unseld have won MVP and Rookie of the Year in the NBA in the same season. A total of 16 players have won both throughout their careers. But doing so in the same year hasn’t been done since Unseld in 1969.

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