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Finding Betting Value in the 2020 NBA Draft

After a five-month delay due to COVID-19, the 2020 NBA Draft is finally scheduled to commence virtually on Wednesday, November 18th from the ESPN studios in Bristol, CT. In lieu of the draftees walking across the stage to shake NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s hand, they will be congratulated via video conferencing similar to the 2020 NFL and NHL drafts.

In terms of draft class strength, this one appears to lack star power and on paper, seems to be the weakest draft in at least a decade. Lacking a “can’t miss” prospect like Zion Williamson in 2019, the unpredictability of the 2020 NBA Draft makes it a more intriguing betting event.

Three prospects are heavily favored to be drafted at the top: guards Anthony Edwards (Georgia) and LaMelo Ball (International), as well as 7’1” center James Wiseman (Memphis). All three are only one year removed from high school, adding to the relative uncertainty of this year’s top-end talent.

From a betting perspective, the 2020 NBA Draft is a goldmine. Using US Gambling Sites partner sportsbooks, Bovada and BetOnline in comparison to mock drafts from ESPN and NBADraft.net, here are several angles that might offer some value.

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Sorting Out the Top-3

The betting odds to be the No. 1 overall pick have changed significantly in the week leading up to the draft. Anthony Edwards was a significant favorite on both sportsbooks but he’s since been overtaken by LaMelo Ball in a surprising reversal.

Ball is currently -180 at Bovada and -175 at BetOnline to be the first player selected in this year’s draft. Edwards dropped from -150 on both betting sites and is now +140 (Bovada) and +125 (BetOnline). James Wiseman is between +550 and +600 on both platforms and his chances of being the first pick appear to be remote.

With trade talks swirling, especially amongst owners of the top two picks, Minnesota and Golden State, unpredictability is king, which ultimately aids the bettor.

ESPN has the top-3 as Ball-Wiseman-Edwards while NBADraft.net has Edwards-Ball-Wiseman, in that order.

BetOnline suggests Wiseman (+115) as the favorite to be drafted 2nd followed by Edwards (+200) and Ball (+240). If you’re betting against Ball No. 1, +240 seems like good value for him to be drafted 2nd, especially if the Warriors trade their pick. Similarly, Wiseman is +240 to go 3rd would likely be the case in that scenario.

Five Other Notable Prop Bets

All lines in this section are courtesy of Bovada

Cole Anthony Draft Position

Over 20.5 (-145) | Under 20.5 (+105)

Both mock drafts we looked at have the North Carolina freshman point guard and son of former NBA PG Greg Anthony inside the top-20: Orlando at No. 15 and Brooklyn at No. 19. Considering his huge upside as a scorer at the next level, comparisons to Denver’s Jamal Murray, who made noise in the 2020 NBA playoffs, aren’t unreasonable. Formerly projected in the top-5 at the start of 2019-20 college basketball season, getting better than even money odds for this former five-star recruit might be a gift from the oddsmakers.

Killian Hayes Draft Position

Over 6.5 (-175) | Under 6.5 (+135)

Born in Florida but raised in France, this 6’5” left-handed point guard has one of the widest ranges for where he’ll be picked of any player in the draft. The Bulls, with the fourth overall pick, could take a chance on the international prospect, but Hayes could also fall in the late lottery as far as Sacramento at No. 12 or Boston at No. 14. Considering the glut of guards at the top of the draft, assuming Hayes being picked before No. 7 seems optimistic, and therefore the safe play might be on the over.

Kira Lewis Jr. Draft Position

Over 14.5 (-105) | Under 14.5 (-135)

Like Hayes above, the junior Alabama guard has crazy mock draft variance with ESPN’s analysts ranking him 14th and NBADraft.net projecting him to go 28th. Split the difference, and the over 14.5 at nearly even money screams value.

Freshmen Drafted in the Top-10

Over 4.5 (+185) | Under 4.5 (-280)

In both mock drafts listed above, Edwards, Wiseman, Onyeka Okongwu (USC), Patrick Williams (Florida State), and Isaac Okoro (Auburn) all appeared in the top-10. At nearly 2-1 odds, it might not be a bad idea to trust the mock drafters more than those who make the betting lines.

University of Arizona Players Drafted in the 1st Round

Over 1.5 (-130) | Under 1.5 (-110)

Though Arizona’s 2019-20 regular season fell short of expectations, the Wildcats had three freshmen, who at points before and during the season, were all considered lottery picks. Guards Nico Mannion and Josh Green, with forward Zeke Nnaji, impressed with size and athleticism at the collegiate level though they weren’t as successful as many Wildcats’ fans had hoped. NBADraft.net projects all three to be taken in the top-30 while ESPN left Mannion to the second round. Even in the latter scenario, the Over 1.5 seems likelier than not.

Hopefully, those NBA Draft betting suggestions lead to a profitable draft night not only for players and teams but for gamblers as well!

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