The NBA Draft is looming and it is shaping up to be an unforgettable one with uncertainty across the board, including who will be the first overall pick. It is not only an exciting event to follow, but NBA Draft betting presents value at every turn even up to the very last minute. To prepare you for the big night, we discuss both how you can attack the NBA Draft betting market as well as some of the biggest storylines and latest news out of this year’s draft.
Ways to Attack the NBA Draft Betting Market
Understanding a Team’s Needs
The first thing to consider when dissecting where a player may end up being selected in the NBA Draft is the need of the team with that pick. This especially becomes important later in the first round when it becomes less about selecting the best available prospect and more about finding someone who can fulfill a lacking area on your roster.
Understand which direction the team is looking to go with their pick and find a prospect that fills that void. Put yourself in the team’s war room and say, “Who would I take here?” That may not be the whole story, but it will at least get the ball rolling on your process.
Analyze Press Conferences, Interviews, & Social Media
These prospects are young. Yes, they have agents and family in their ear telling them what to say and how to say it. However, sometimes they will slip and give out a bit more information than they should. Keep up with interviews, press conferences and social media posts from all levels of prospects. It’s one of the most exciting times in their lives and it’s hard to not get boastful about where you may end up or what teams are interested in you.
The same can be said for “coach speak” from front offices. Read between the lines of what is being said leading up to the draft and you will be surprised at how easy it can be to find out what a team is looking to get out of the draft. We’ll dive deeper into that with this class specifically later in this piece.
What Are The Team’s Goals For The Upcoming Season?
Another aspect to consider are the goals of the team for the upcoming season. Are they currently in a rebuild and are willing to take on a prospect who may take a few years to reach his full potential? Or are they on the cusp of breaking through as a title contender and want someone who can contribute right away? Every draft class has prospects who are being drafted either for their readiness or their raw ability that will be developed over time. The players coming off the board early are the elite exceptions that provide both.
When considering where a player will end up, figure out whether he is likely an immediate contributor or a long-term project. Try to pair players and teams that either want time to develop or are prepared to compete from the get-go.
How Did The Player Do at The Combine?
Most of the bigger names chose not to participate in this year’s NBA Draft Combine, but 76 prospects attended the event in hopes of boosting their draft stock. Fringe lottery picks, second-round hopefuls and everyone in between had their measurements taken, performed various drills, and played in multiple scrimmages as hundreds of scouts looked on for three days last month.
The combine remains the biggest way players rise or fall prior to the NBA Draft. Wisconsin-Milwaukee forward Patrick Baldwin Jr. is a perfect example of its importance. After an injury-laden season where the freshman sharpshooter played in just 11 games where he shot an abysmal 26.6 percent from beyond the arc, nobody needed the combine to showcase their abilities more than him.
Baldwin Jr. still entered the combine as a fringe lottery pick, but that didn’t last long. The 19-year-old recorded the worst max vertical leap out of 51 participants at just 26.5 inches and ranked in the bottom six in all agility drills as well. He has now plummeted to an early second-round projection and is not a player you want to be backing in the NBA Draft prop market as things stand. There may not be a player with a more freezing draft stock than him heading into Thursday night.
Understanding the “temperature” on a player heading into the draft is just as key as understanding the fit and needs with the organization. And nothing sets the temperature better than a combine performance. Make sure you research whether the player you are wagering on is entering the draft as the trendy prospect shooting up the boards or someone who could find themselves seriously sliding down the board on draft night.
Don’t Go Crazy Trying to Predict Trades
Everyone tries to get fancy when making mock drafts or betting on the outcomes. Everyone knows there is likely to be a trade or two. It is common to try to put a hypothetical deal together that makes sense. Draft day trades often come together last-minute and shock fans across the country. Trying to nail which teams will trade back or move up in a draft is simply not worth your time. Spend your research elsewhere.
Sportsbooks Lose Money on The NBA Draft
The NBA Draft is one of the events that sportsbooks offer that qualifies as the “low-hanging fruit” of which bettors can take advantage. It’s simply impossible for the sportsbooks to keep up with every single aspect of news for each year’s NBA Draft. The little nuggets, notes, and rumors that swirl each day during the months of leadup require too much focus. That leaves a plethora of value for anyone willing to put in the work on keeping up to speed with the latest news.
Make sure to shop your lines and find places with the highest limits. You won’t be able to get too much down on these draft props because the operators are aware it costs their bottom line. However, some will have higher limits than others since they will be moving their numbers on action. You can find some serious closing line value on NBA Draft betting. You may also spot some arbitrage opportunities if you keep your eyes open.
Storylines For The 2022 NBA Draft
Just a week ago, top prospect Jabari Smith was priced at -600 to go first overall to the Orlando Magic. As of Tuesday afternoon, the Auburn forward now sits at just -155 on DraftKings to be the first name called on Thursday night. Gonzaga seven-footer Chet Holmgren sits at +230 to go first overall. Duke freshman phenom Paolo Banchero leapt over him this week. Unlike most years, we are seeing plenty of uncertainty with the top pick. Odds seemingly shift every hour as new information and reports come out.
Paolo Banchero Making Serious Late Push to Be Top Pick
Monday was one of the oddest days thus far in the buildup for this year’s NBA Draft. In a span of 24 hours, Paolo Banchero shifted from +1600 on BetMGM to +900. As of this writing he is now +225. It’s a monstrous movement in Banchero’s favor in such a short period time. This was largely due to Orlando Magic President Jeff Weltman dodging questions on Monday afternoon during a press conference. He refused to confirm whether Paolo Banchero had a workout with the team.
It’s noteworthy because the organization was proud to display their workouts with Jabari Smith and Chet Holmgren over recent weeks. Yet they are choosing to be “buttoned up” over Banchero’s alleged workout. The battle for who will be the top pick is far from over. In many ways, it may just be getting started. This is a situation that should be monitored very closely over the next 48 hours.
Will The Magic Even Pick At #1 In The NBA Draft?
Forget who will go first overall in this year’s draft. We aren’t even totally sure who will be the team with the top pick. In the aforementioned press conference from Weltman, he also stated that, “It’s still early in the process.” He followed it up with saying, “Dialogue is always ongoing. But most importantly, we get to do what we want. That’s the real benefit of having the No. 1 pick.” That’s hardly something you would hear from a man who has made up his mind on what to do with the top selection. Time will tell if the Magic become the first team since 1986 to trade away the first overall pick at the NBA Draft.
Could Keegan Murray Go as High as 4th?
There seems to be some buzz on where Iowa standout Keegan Murray will end up being selected on draft night. Murray feels slightly more NBA-ready than the prospects he is being compared to. This includes Arizona guard Bennedict Mathurin. Murray’s ability to create his own shot is something with which Mathurin struggles.
Murray could go as high as number four. Yahoo’s Chris B. Haynes noting that the Sacramento Kings, who hold the fourth overall pick, are “high on Keegan Murray.” Purdue guard Jaden Ivey remains the slight favorite to go to the Kings, but it’s far from certain who will go next following the trio of Smith, Holmgren, and Banchero.
Jaden Ivey’s Weird Dichotomy Between The Kings & Pistons
Purdue point guard Jaden Ivey currently sits as the most likely to go fourth overall to the Sacramento Kings. However, there have been some weird rumors behind the scenes that don’t quite add up. Ivey has only worked out with the Magic and the Detroit Pistons. He also had a not-so excited quote about the idea of being selected by Sacramento:
“If I got drafted there, it wouldn’t be the worst option. I’m not the GM who picks the guys. I’m kind of just trying to just enjoy this process. Whatever happens on draft night, we’re just gonna stick with it.”
That’s not exactly a quote filled with exuberance. Especially a guy who almost every mock draft has going at number four.
When you factor in the interest Sacramento has for Keegan Murray, it would make sense to see those two swap spots. Murray goes fourth to the Kings while Ivey falls to fifth and heads to the Pistons. We will leave you with this quote from Ivey when asked about going to Detroit at number five:
“I would love to go anywhere, but Detroit, my mom [Notre Dame head women’s basketball coach Niele Ivey] played for the Detroit Shock in the WNBA. I’ve lived in the area, and I know what it’s like. Detroit [which picks fifth overall] could be an option.”
Jalen Williams’s Rise to The First Round
One of the better stories from this year’s NBA Draft is Santa Clara’s Jalen Williams. He is a junior who may have had the best combine out of anyone. Williams measured the longest wingspan out of any guard at the combine at 7’2.25”. He also showed polished ability as a shooter, finisher, and playmaker during the scrimmages.
Any question about the step-up in competition from the West Coast Conference to the NBA was squashed following his performances at the combine. He is the only prospect from a mid-major school in contention to be a lottery pick. As a result, he has skyrocketed up draft boards since last month’s showing. The temperature is certainly sizzling here. However, it may not be too late to grab an under on his pick position if you shop around.
NBA Draft betting can be rewarding for those who stay on top of the news and can effectively evaluate the market. The blueprint laid out in the first part of this article can be repeated year after year. Remember, betting limits won’t be as high for NBA Draft betting. However, a savvy bettor can still get down amounts to make it worth their time.
Finding like-minded bettors to help you canvas the entire betting field is another good way to find an edge when NBA Draft betting. As always, a good place to find those bettors is on the Unabated Community Discord. It is full of helpful and positive interactions with not only other bettors but also Jack, Rufus, Peter and other pros.