Given the lack of top-end talent in this draft class and the nature of this abbreviated offseason, we should be in line for a wild draft. But the show goes on and there are betting edges to be had. Betting drafts is unlike anything else. The market is constantly changing based on the info we have at that time. These are some bets that I think feel safe about placing and not getting burned by any conflicting reports. But these bets may not include an even stronger play that becomes available just minutes before the draft. Follow me on Twitter — @julianedlow — for all of my plays as they become available.
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In a draft with a lot of moving parts, one thing has remained nearly unanimous throughout the entire draft process — Jones isn’t a first-round pick. Jones was a huge piece of Duke’s success in the past two seasons, but his outlook in the NBA is clear. Similar to his big brother, he’s a solid backup PG with a safe floor, but not much of a ceiling. Given his size, teams would rather gamble on upside in the first round. Scanning through mock drafts, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one with Jones listed in the first round. After talking to some people around the league, they seem to agree that Jones will still be available when we get to the second round.
Williams has been one of the fastest risers in this draft during the pre-draft process. The freshman from FSU has worked out for teams picking as high as Golden State at No. 2 and there have also been rumors of a promise from the Pistons at No. 7. The promise would obviously be huge to have a floor of seventh overall, but it does seem like a team before then will scoop him up. The Bulls have been strongly linked to Williams at No. 4 and he took a TON of money to be selected No. 4 in the betting market early this week. Once as high as 30:1 at some books, Williams is now +475 to go fourth overall.
Okongwu has drawn a lot of comparisons to Bam Adebayo, which is very attractive in a draft without much upside. It sounds like we know who the top three picks will be at this point, but picks 4-6 are wide open and Okongwu is arguably as promising a prospect in terms of ceiling as any prospect in this draft. Teams could try to trade up for the big if he slides and the Hawks are a team listening to offers at No. 6 — the perfect spot to snag Okongwu and keep him under this number.
Maxey is a combo guard that should be on the rise in this draft class. He fits the modern NBA well in terms of his versatility and scoring ability, plus he should be able to fit well next to most guards. His ceiling is around No. 10 in this draft but mocks rarely have him going any later than No. 18 or 19. Basically, there should be enough teams before No. 18 willing to draft Maxey to risk betting this, accepting the possibility it could miss by a pick or two in a worst-case scenario.
Draft props tell us we should see five freshmen go in the top 10 picks without much concern. Here are some draft position props set on the top freshmen:
Anthony Edwards: 1.5
James Wiseman: 2.5
Onyeka Okongwu: 6.5
Patrick Williams: 7.5
Isaac Okoro: 8.5 — with -143 juice on the under
Edwards and Wiseman will be long gone and it would be pretty surprising if both Okongwu and Williams aren’t gone by No. 9 overall. That leaves two picks for Okoro to be selected. Nearly all mock drafts have him going in the top 10 and some books are offering him as a top-10 pick around -250 to -300. I’m just playing the odds here and saying the top-five freshman prospects are all off the board in the top 10.
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