The NBA Finals have just wrapped up which means we head into the team-building portion of the year. Next on the calendar is the NBA Draft. This year’s draft is highlighted by a generational superstar, Victor Wembanyama. If you follow basketball at all or are just into freakishly good athletes, then Wembanyama’s name should sound familiar. After winning the draft lottery this year, the San Antonio Spurs are the lucky organization to draft the greatest prospect since Lebron James. It won’t be confirmed until draft night on June 22nd, but Wembanyama will certainly be a Spur. Despite the non-mystery as to who will be taken 1st overall, there is value in the subsequent selections. For those wondering, Wembanyama is -50000 odds to go first.
NBA Draft Best Bets
1st Overall Pick
The pick is Wembanyama. Unless you’re on the coldest betting streak in human history, there is no point in this bet.
The Pick: Victor Wembanyama -50000
Victor Wembanyama is unstoppable pic.twitter.com/QVS09yj1Zc
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) June 15, 2023
2nd Overall Pick
The intrigue of the draft begins with the Charlotte Hornets and the second overall selection. Wembanyama is without a doubt off the board at this point. For the Hornets, it comes down to two players; Alabama SF Brandon Miller and G League Ignite PG Scoot Henderson.
In a lot of drafts, either of these two players would be in consideration for the 1st overall pick. Miller was a dynamo for the 1-seed Crimson Tide. He averaged 19 points 8 rebounds and 2 assists and is being compared to All-Star Paul George. He is currently the favorite to go 2nd at -250.
Henderson is Miller’s only true challenge to go to Charlotte. A great season in the G League kept him in the top-3 conversation for the entire season. Despite early talk of Miller being the heavy favorite at this pick, recent reports have said “Scoot” is still in play. Henderson’s odds sit at +160.
Scoot Henderson has sky-high upside at the PG position, but Charlotte already has their star, LaMelo Ball. Miller is a phenomenal player that fills a huge position of need, giving him the edge.
The Pick: Brandon Miller -250
3rd Overall Pick
The Portland Trailblazers hold the 3rd overall pick, and your guess is as good as mine as to what they are doing. Portland has yo-yoed between making one last push with Damian Lillard, or blowing the whole thing up and starting again.
With the third pick and an elite-level PG prospect in Henderson sitting in their lap, the decision should be a know-brainer. Opting for a complete overall would be a wise choice, especially considering the player they would be selecting here.
Collecting the assets from a Lillard trade, coupled with a backcourt of Henderson, Anfernee Simons and Shaedon Sharpe, Portland’s rebuild shouldn’t last long. With Miller off the board, there isn’t any drama with this selection.
— No Ceilings (@NoCeilingsNBA) June 15, 2023
The Pick: Scoot Henderson -196
4th Overall Pick
The draft begins to take shape with the Houston Rockets at this spot. Miller and Henderson have the potential to flip-flop, but it’s highly unlikely either fall past pick three. New coach Ime Udoka has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to young talent. Jalen Green, Jabari Smith Jr., and Alperen Sengun form a young core with championship upside.
The two players that have emerged as candidates to go in this spot are PG/SG Amen Thompson from the Overtime Elite League and SF Cam Whitmore from Villanova. Amen is known for his athleticism, playmaking, and size, while Whitmore is a better shooter with high-end explosiveness. Thompson has had the most buzz around Houston, but Whitmore’s stock continues to rise during the pre-draft process, firmly placing him in contention for this pick.
If you are looking for a long shot with this pick look no further than Amen’s twin brother, Ausar. At +1000, Ausar Thompson is an aggressive scorer and a much more willing defender than his brother. Again, it’s a long shot, but not outrageous given how close all these players are compared to one another.
Ultimately, the neck-and-neck nature of who is being predicted at this pick is why leaning for Whitmore at plus money isn’t a bad bet.
The Pick: Cam Whitmore +170
5th Overall Pick
If the draft shakes out this way it presents the first real mystery of the draft. Amen Thompson is the favorite for the four spot, but if Whitmore is the pick the odds aren’t in his favor that he is up next.
The Detroit Pistons hold the fifth selection and have taken guards in three straight drafts, Killian Hayes, Cade Cunningham, and Jaden Ivey. In this scenario, the books have [Amen] Thompson with the fourth-best odds at +430. Currently, Whitmore has the best odds at +115. However, with him off the board, Ausar Thompson is next at +340, followed by Houston PF Jarrace Walker at +410.
The majority of Mock Drafts out there have two players slotted in this spot; Whitmore and Walker. With Whitmore off the board, Walker becomes the logical pick with great value. Amen Thompson is very intriguing at +430, but it seems very unlikely Detroit adds another guard to a team littered with young talent there. There is however a need at the forward position, making way for Walker at this spot.
Jarrace Walker led all scorers with 17 points to lead Houston in a 69-61 over Virginia.
— The College Basketball Guy (@NCAABBallGuy) December 18, 2022
The one disclaimer is if the draft rolls on and Whitmore is on the board for Detroit, he is likely the no-brainer selection. However, for this exercise, he isn’t, and Jarrace Walker is a natural fit and provides fantastic value.
The Pick: Jarrace Walker +410
The Best of the Rest of the 2023 NBA Draft
An Amen and Ausar Thompson slide continues to provide enormous value the deeper the draft goes. They shouldn’t be on the board much longer, Amen to go sixth at +550 and Ausar to go seventh at +430 provide great value and are good fits with the Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers.
My favorite bet outside of the top five selections is at eight. Arkansas guard Anthony Black is +200 to go to the Washington Wizards in this spot. Bradley Beal looks almost certain to be on the move, so replacing him with a big, high-IQ, two-way guard makes a ton of sense.
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