The Indiana Pacers held the 13th overall pick in the draft this past offseason. They didn’t look for a young prospect and instead went with the 24-year-old guard from Oregon, Chris Duarte. Right before the draft, Duarte turned 24, which could have been a turn-off for most teams.
However, the Pacers still went with their guy. As of right now, they are reaping the rewards. Duarte has been inserted into the starting lineup due to TJ Warren still recovering from a broken foot and Caris LeVert dealing with a back injury.
The Rookie of the Year award was looked to be between the first top three picks with the most likely winner being the second overall pick of the Houston Rockets, Jalen Green. Green is still the favorite at the moment, but Duarte is creeping up the list.
On October 20th, Duarte was +3500 in Rookie of the Year odds. As of today, his odds are at +700. There is a chance he can steal the award from the bigger names.
Chris Duarte Came to Ball Out
The first game of the season saw the Pacers play an offensive-minded game against the Charlotte Hornets. Despite the loss, the Pacers came away with some positives. Their biggest positive was the play of Duarte.
He went off for 27 points, while shooting 60% from the field. Furthermore, he proved that he could be a sharpshooter. He went 6-9 from three.
Chris Duarte put the moves on Giannis. ?
— theScore (@theScore) October 26, 2021
The following two games saw some inefficient scoring, but he bounced back in their last game against the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks. He has not scored less than 15 points in a game this season thus far.
The potential is there for Duarte with his shooting and overall scoring. He is right there for the award race. However, he has to battle some great competition.
The Race Will be Tight
We all know the favorite, Jalen Green. His offensive ability is parallel to so many superstars in the league. However, he struggled for the first two games, scoring just nine points in each contest.
He did bounce back the other night with a 30 point outburst. Then there is Evan Mobley and Scottie Barnes.
Mobley has been an all-around talent. His offense is there, but his defense is the talking point. He is already averaging two blocks per game, while averaging 1.3 steals per game.
Scottie Barnes has been an extremely key piece with the Toronto Raptors so far. Barnes already had a 25 point game, while grabbing 13 rebounds in a blowout win against the Boston Celtics.
All of this is going on, while the number one overall pick, Cade Cunningham, has not played a game yet. Duarte can definitely steal the award, but it will not be an easy task.