Best Bets: Looking for value with the Pistons and the NBA Draft

Detroit Bad Boys

We’re days away from the 2022 NBA Draft and while much of the conversation is focused on who the Detroit Pistons will select with the No. 5 overall pick, let’s take a break and look at things from a betting perspective.

Wagering on the draft is, surprisingly, one of the more fun ways to watch. It’s different than wagering on games because you aren’t trying to predict performance — you’re trying to predict the decisions of NBA executives.

However, you’re also searching for value. Some background in case you’re new here: these wagers will be described in “units” which are a set amount you’re willing to put down on a single play. If one unit is $10 for you, then half of a unit would be $5. Oftentimes, bets with longer odds (i.e. the ones that are less likely to happen) will be described as 0.5 or 0.25 unit plays. That just means you wager less due to the higher risk/reward.

This is the second betting post we’ve done this season, and some of my preseason award futures ended up doing well as Scottie Barnes (+1300) won Rookie of the Year, Ja Morant (+4000) won Most Improved Player and Tyler Herro (+3000) won Sixth Man of the Year.

But enough about the past, let’s find some draft value.

NBA TOP 10 DRAFT PICK

THE PICK: Jeremy Sochan (+105 on FanDuel; 1.0 unit)
Not the most glitzy pick, but Sochan is so smart and so versatile that I really think he’ll land somewhere in the No. 6-10 range on Thursday. He could benefit from a number of things: a Shaedon Sharpe draft night fall, fears over AJ Griffin’s old man body or simply having more appeal to progressive NBA front offices when compared to a traditional big man like Jalen Duren. Sochan can play, period. If you’re on board with this one, you can double down and bet him to be chosen 12th or earlier on DraftKings at -170. There’s some juice but I dig it.

WHO WILL BE DRAFTED FIRST?

THE PICK: E.J. Liddell before Nikola Jovic (+100 on DraftKings; 1.0 unit)
This is a weak class of overseas prospects. It really comes down to this: if Jovic and Liddell are both going in the 20s, a place where teams often look for guys they can stick in the opening night rotation, who’s more likely to go first? Liddell reminds me of Jae Crowder, which would be great for teams like Minnesota, Chicago, Memphis or Denver. Sure, the ceiling is low, but he’ll contribute from the start. Jovic, a 6-foot-10 ball handler, is super interesting, but we haven’t really heard much buzz around him and often the non-elite prospects out of Europe slip a bit without that.

WHO WILL BE DRAFTED FIRST?

THE PICK: A.J. Griffin before Johnny Davis (+120 on DraftKings; 1.0 unit)
This one is going to come down to preference on the part of teams picking in that 8-12 range. I’m not a big fan of either guy generally (or for the Pistons) but I can see the upside argument with Griffin. If his body keeps getting better and he recovers some of that big-time athleticism from high school, he’s a steal. That’s a big if, but Davis doesn’t have that potential upside. Griffin’s shooting, name and prospect pedigree are enough for a team to look past Davis’ NBA readiness and dream on Griffin’s potential (albeit unlikely) upside.

THE 4TH OVERALL PICK

THE PICK: Keegan Murray (+200 on PointsBet; 1.0 unit)
Welcome to the unknown. There is a lot of smoke around the Sacramento Kings right now. They like Keegan Murray. They want to win now. He’s ready to roll. Jaden Ivey is a bad fit with De’Aaron Fox. None of that should matter when making this pick, but, you know, it’s the Kings. That’s why, with these odds, I’d feel good putting something down on Murray at this price. It also opens the door for some correlated betting with our next pick.

THE 5TH OVERALL PICK

THE PICK: Jaden Ivey (+300 on DraftKings; 1.0 unit)
So, if the Kings take Murray at No. 4, the Pistons will have a decision to make on Ivey. With all that we’ve heard about Troy Weaver’s reported interest in him, it seems likely that the Pistons would take him if he was there for them. This pick, though, is good because when it says “5th overall pick” it does not mean Pistons pick only. It can be anybody picking there, meaning these odds are insulated in case Ivey falls and Weaver trades the pick. If Ivey falls to this pick, it seems likely that somebody is coming for him. But, if you’re sure he’s going to Detroit, head over to PointsBet and take Ivey (+325) as “1st Player to be Drafted by Pistons.”

1ST PLAYER TO BE DRAFTED BY PISTONS:

THE PICK: Bennedict Mathurin (+1000 on PointsBet; 1.0 unit)
This line doesn’t make sense to me. These are long odds, and I usually wouldn’t do this, but I’d honestly put a full unit on this. Ben in Detroit is a culture fit, a basketball fit, and something we’ve seen in mock drafts throughout the pre-draft process. Vegas always knows something we don’t, but this value is too good to pass up.

A FEW LONGSHOTS

These are fun but unlikely to hit. With that said, do not go crazy. Hell, if you don’t like these, fade them. They’re just two picks that have really good value and I think are fun.

TO BE DRAFTED IN THE TOP 10: Jalen Williams (+2000 on PointsBet; 0.25 unit)
I really like Williams’ game. He feels ready to contribute and I could see him as a fit with the Wizards or, more specifically, the Spurs. He just feels like a Spurs-type dude.

NBA 2022 NUMBER 2 OVERALL PICK: Jaden Ivey (+2300 on FanDuel; 0.25 unit)
We’ve heard enough about how much Sam Presti loves Jaden Ivey that, while this isn’t likely, it also isn’t impossible.

All draft odds accurate as of Monday, June 20, 2022 and offered in the state of Michigan.

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