There are few things I love betting on more than the NBA Draft.
It’s volatile. It’s random. And odds shift drastically in the days leading up to it. Last year, when news broke that the Orlando Magic were suddenly wavering on Jabari Smith Jr. and considering Paolo Banchero with the No. 1 overall pick, odds shifted a crazy amount.
There’s money to be made here, and if you’re a draft nut like me, it’s a fun way to win (or even lose) a few bucks.
We know the Detroit Pistons are picking No. 5, and we’ll take a stab at that one later, but we’ve got other places to find value, too.
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. Last year, if you tailed my draft bets, you would have been up 5.0 units — or $50 if you were a $10 a unit bettor.
Anyway, let’s get to the fun stuff:
TOP 10 DRAFT PICK
THE PICK: Dereck Lively (+210 on FanDuel; 1.0 unit)
While I’m not a big fan of Lively’s game… I see the potential. There are rumors that teams like the Mavericks or Hawks (in a trade-up situation) are crushing hard on him. He’s huge, he’s athletic and he’s from Duke. Add in the fact that he’s reportedly shot the ball well from deep in workouts and I can see him going in the 9-10 range.
THE 5TH OVERALL PICK
THE PICK: Ausar Thompson (+380 on FanDuel; 1.0 unit)
The Pistons pick was more fun to play around with last year because the Kings’ pick at No. 4 (Keegan Murray) directly correlated with Jaden Ivey falling to Detroit at No. 5. I think the best bet for the Pistons this year isn’t Jarace Walker or Cam Whitmore — it’s Ausar Thompson. The odds are good, the fit makes sense from an on- and off-court sense. He’s probably not the guy I would choose, but I think at these odds he’s the guy to bet on.
TO BE A FIRST ROUND PICK
THE PICK: Andre Jackson Jr. (+500 on DraftKings; 0.5 unit)
Jackson might be the worst shooter in the draft, but he’s so damn good at everything else that I think a smart team who doesn’t need him to play much as a rookie will take a stab on him late and really spend time helping him develop his jumper. He was the best playmaker on the national champion UConn Huskies and he’s got good size at 6-foot-6. There is certainly some risk here, but this will be a fun one to sweat late in the first round.
TO BE A TOP 20 PICK
THE PICK: Jaime Jaquez Jr. (+600 on FanDuel; 0.5 units)
Not only did Jaime Jaquez Jr. get a green room invite this week — a sign of real momentum — he’s the type of college veteran who playoff teams crave. He’s a ready-made role player. Recently, I’ve seen him mocked to the Grizzlies at No. 25, but contenders like the Lakers, Heat are Warriors pick from 17-19. That’s the sweet spot for this to hit.
TOP FIVE PICKS EXACT ORDER
THE PICK: V. Wembanyama, B. Miller, S. Henderson, Am. Thompson, Au. Thompson (+700 on DraftKings; 0.5 units)
Full transparency: Before the Woj news late last night, I had Top Three Picks Exact Order of Vic, Miller and Scoot on here for +170… but that is now -300 so it’s unbettable. BUT, while this has gone from long shot to normal play, I still dig it. Now, if you don’t like betting Ausar to the Pistons, don’t bet this. If you do, bet this. I think Amen at No. 4 is a sure thing and I think Ausar is landing here. That’s gonna be a great TV moment on the broadcast, too. The only way this gets wonky is if Charlotte takes Scoot. This seems pretty doable at 14-1 odds, though.
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 coorelated value and I think are fun.
THE 5TH OVERALL PICK: Anthony Black (+2600 on FanDuel; 0.25 units)
THE 9TH OVERALL PICK: Taylor Hendricks (+400 on BetMGM; 0.25 units)
*These last two picks are correlated, so if you decide to bet one, bet the other.*
Welcome to the “Pistons Trade” scenario. While I think they stand pat at No. 5, I’m just trying to connect the dots on rumors. The Jazz want Black badly and the idea of trading the No. 9 and No. 16 picks to Detroit for No. 5 makes sense…. if the Pistons really do like Hendricks and don’t want to reach for him at No. 5.
If you wanted to get really spicy, you could take Cam Whitmore at No. 9 overall at +900 on FanDuel. I might toss 0.25 units on that just for the vibes.
All draft odds accurate as of Tuesday, June 20, 2023 at 11 p.m. and offered in the state of Michigan.