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NBA Draft - Best Bets
Part I

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Now that the Miami Heat’s 2nd championship parade in 12 months is over and done with, the entire NBA world is focussing on this week’s draft. It isn’t considered the “strongest” draft class we’ve seen in recent years, but there are some intriguing prospects up and down the draft board that could make significant impacts next year if they find the right team to ‘fit’ with.

Prop #1: Shane Larkin’s draft position: Over 15.5 (-160) or Under 15.5 (+120)

Where Larkin ends up is a key barometer for how the rest of the 2013 NBA draft pans out. The sophomore PG from Miami turned a lot of heads this past year during Miami’s run to the top of the ACC but there are a few concerns NBA GM’s have about his game seamlessly transitioning to the pros.

The first hurdle is his size. Larkin is listed in the 5’11”-6’0” range and just over 170 pounds. Unless a guy is a top-three talent as a PG at that height, teams will generally shy away from spending a high pick on the player. Larkin showed tremendous leadership down the stretch with the Hurricanes, but he’ll routinely be guarded by much bigger and stronger guys in the NBA and any team that failed to make the playoffs this year (bottom 14), likely won’t want to take a stab with Larkin here.

However there is a team in the Utah Jazz at #14 that is a logical fit for Larkin. Utah needs a PG who can excel on both ends of the floor and Larkin’s defensive ability is one of biggest strengths. But there are some talented guards ranked ahead of him in scouting and the likely competition Larkin will have at this spot is from Dennis Schroeder from Germany. Schroeder comes in as a taller guard (6’2”) and Utah has been known to have a preference for European guys.

When all is said and done I think Larkin’s size will keep him on the board longer than he would like and a better team in the mid-to-high 20’s will scoop him up for a backup-type role.

Take the over.

Prop #2: Who will get drafted first: Cody Zeller (+200) or CJ McCollum (-260)

This prop bet is a tough one as Zeller and McCollum are projected to go in that same 7-15 range at the bottom of the lottery.

Zeller is a big man who really came into his own during his second season at Indiana this year and his individual workouts and combine performances have only helped his stock. But with two PF/C ranked well above him in Noel and Len, it becomes all about draft positioning and need with Zeller.

Obviously you can never have too much size in the NBA, but if a team is willing to draft a big man and wait on him to develop in the D-league or elsewhere, a guy like Pittsburgh’s Steven Adams may have more upside. Even Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk is a better scorer than Zeller and if a team decides to go that route, Zeller could fall down draft boards.

SG McCollum is in a similar boat as there are SG’s ranked higher than him on most everyone’s board, but he does have a few things working in his favor. First off, he may not be the pure point guard that Portland’s Damian Lillard is, but Lillard’s success in winning rookie of the year has people believing McCollum can be a similar type scorer. Like Lillard he comes from a small mid-major program and carried Lehigh to new heights while at the school. He could fit on numerous teams in the 5-14 range and actually has more options as landing spots than Zeller.

It’s because of those reasons that I think you have to swallow the chalk here and expect McCollum to be plucked from the board before Zeller is, although I would not be surprised to see them go back-to-back at all.

Take McCollum.

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