NBA Draft Betting Guide 2021
The 2021 NBA Draft will take place on Thursday, July 29, at 8 p.m. ET. The draft will be televised on ESPN and ABC, which will mark the first time that will happen.
Our Lineups.com team and I will be covering the draft live, rating the picks, and providing predictions for the players in their rookie years. In this article, I’ll cover the different NBA Draft prop bets and what to expect in general from one of the most exciting events for die-hard professional basketball fans.
How To Bet On NBA Draft
There are plenty of ways to bet on the 2021 NBA Draft this year. Many sportsbooks have NBA Draft props this year, including DraftKings, FanDuel, William Hill, BetMGM, PointsBet, and many more. There are several different types of prop bets available as well, depending on which sportsbook you choose.
You can select exact orders for the first three (or four) picks, which player will be the first, second, third, fourth, or fifth draft pick selected, player draft matchups, and the over/under on specific players’ draft positions.
Draft Class Notes
This particular draft class is very young, with a significant possibility of most of the first round being freshman or freshman equivalent. The absence of age and experience is eye-opening as the league continues to trend more and more toward projectability and futuristic thinking. This closes the door for several upperclassmen to hear their name called in the first round.
Regarding the consensus with this draft, it’s clear that this year is a weak class for centers. Outside of Mobley, Sengun, and Garuba, I don’t feel like there’s much potential at the center position. Additionally, I’m not a massive believer in the point guards of this year’s draft. Suggs is as close to a sure thing as one could get for a prototypical NBA point guard; however, there aren’t any guarantees for point guards outside of him.
Most experts will agree on the potential of some of the two-guards and small forwards in this year’s class. This year is filled with upside in those two positions. My shortlist of potential sleepers includes Ayo Dosunmu, Moses Moody, and James Bouknight. Every one of these players is the real deal and has transferable skills and characteristics to the next level.
I cover this in more detail in another article, NBA Draft 2021: Five “Mid-To-Late” First Round Gems.
There has been discussion that this could be an explosive draft regarding veterans being dealt with, big decisions being made, and teams trading up or down. Below are a few scenarios that could happen, ranging in likelihood from likely to “out-of-this-world.”
- Likely Trade: Sexton is dealt with a contender looking for a missing piece.
- Possible Trade: Porzingis dealt for a draft pick as Mavs continue to build around Luka.
- Unlikely Trade: OKC uses the plethora of first-rounders it has accumulated in a monster package deal to move up to number one in order to select Cade Cunningham.
- Out-of-This-World Trade: Damian Lillard to Golden State for the 7th pick, 14th pick, two or three future 1st-rounders, and James Wiseman.
First Overall Pick Odds
For many, many months, Cade Cunningham has been the consensus number one overall pick. There was a brief moment during the NCAA Tournament where some scouts suggested that perhaps Jalen Suggs should go number one overall, but that momentum burnt out very quickly.
Cunningham is a sure-fire lock to be the number one overall pick. The odds right now are at -8000, so it’s worth just staying away from as there is no upside for the bettor either way. Jalen Green is the next closest in terms of odds at +1500, but save your money for a different NBA Draft prop bet.
2nd Overall Pick Odds
There are two realistic choices for the second pick: Jalen Green (-170) and Evan Mobley (+170). The odds drop tremendously outside of those two players, with the following highest odds being at +650 for Jalen Suggs. I’ve been trying to think of every scenario in which the second pick isn’t Mobley or Green, and none of them are logical. Stick with Green or Mobley at the second pick.
I believe that the Rockets back-court is a bit busy. They already have Eric Gordon, John Wall, and rising star Kevin Porter Jr. back there. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that Evan Mobley paired with Christian Wood could turn out to be very interesting. This will probably be a thought that Houston can’t eliminate before they turn in its pick.
3rd Overall Pick
The third overall pick will be either Jalen Green or Evan Mobley, depending on which of them is picked at number two. It is doubtful for Jalen Suggs to be picked at number three because the Cavaliers already have Darius Garland as their future point guard. Also, Kuminga and Barnes are not being considered at pick number three, so make sure to either go with Green or Mobley if you decide to bet on the third pick in the NBA Draft.
4th Overall Pick
The Raptors hold the fourth overall pick, and with Kyle Lowry potentially leaving for greener pastures, it’s hard to imagine they pass on Jalen Suggs here. Suggs is currently favored at -165. Additionally, Toronto has quite a few high-ceiling wings and won’t want to cut their playing time.
5th Overall Pick
Scottie Barnes has shot up draft boards, and some are projecting him to now go ahead of Jonathan Kuminga. They are currently equally favored at -105 to go at the number five pick. I think Kuminga will be the pick here for the Orlando Magic, but no one seems to feel super confident one way or the other. Unless you feel strongly about one of them going at number five, it may make sense to stay away.
Franz Wagner (-150) is bound to leave the board in the Top 10 of this draft. Despite Wagner being a sophomore, he will still only be 19 years old on draft night. His length, handle, and upside will be too much for a team in that 8-10 range. There aren’t any “can’t miss” prospects outside of the top five or six, so it’s not unlikely he gets scooped up early with his massive upside.
Player Draft Position
- Keon Johnson: Over 8.5 (-200)
Johnson is sliding on mocks and draft boards. Initially, many experts saw Johnson in that pick number 6-8 range; however, as time has gone on, Bouknight, Barnes, Wagner, and Mitchell have shot up, while Johnson has slid. This is not a knock to Johnson’s potential at all. Sometimes, that is just what happens with pre-draft hype. The earliest he could go is at number nine to the Kings, which is already over our magic number of 8.5.
- Moses Moody: Under 11.5 (-115)
Moses Moody is one of the most polished players entering the draft this year, and last year, he was merely a freshman. There are some high-potential players in the top six or seven picks, but Moody should follow right after that. I have a hard time naming eleven guys in this draft that should go ahead of him.
- Usman Garuba: Over 15.5 (-154)
As much as I like Garuba, I think there will be 15 teams that pass over him. He should land in that 17-21 range. There will be a whole bunch of guards and wings taken before Garuba gets snagged.
1st To Be Drafted
- Alperen Sengun (-150) vs. Corey Kispert (+115)
Alperen Sengun is considered to have the second-highest ceiling for a big man in this draft. He is still young at 18 years old and had an incredible season in Europe, averaging almost 20 points per game. I don’t see any teams taking Kispert ahead of pick number 14 (Golden State Warriors). Sengun could get drafted anywhere in that 10-15 range, so I like Sengun here.
- Davion Mitchell (-170) vs. Keon Johnson (+130)
Davion Mitchell has been moving up draft boards over the past few months and has found himself somewhat settled in at seven. He has been projected to go to Golden State at that slot for weeks, so I feel solid about him going there. If he drops past Golden State, he won’t make it past pick number ten. Meanwhile, Keon Johnson has slid just a bit in most mock drafts. It’s not significant, but he may slide out of the top ten. For that reason, Mitchell is an excellent choice here.
Top 4 Exact Order
In my mind, there are only two real options for the Top 4 draft picks. The first option is Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, Evan Mobley, and Jalen Suggs, respectively. This currently has odds of +150. The second option, which is just swapping the second and third picks, is Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Jalen Green, and Jalen Suggs. That Top 4 exact order bet has odds of +500 currently.
Despite rocketing up draft boards, I can’t see Scottie Barnes getting taken over these guys. And while I’m high on Kuminga, the Top 4 should be pretty much locked. If you hedge your bets properly here, you could make a bit of money on this bet. Trades could also influence the Top 4 order.