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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:03 AM

NBA Draft Props Best Bets

This draft looks even deeper than last year's, which lived up to billing as one of the better pools of collective talent in years.

Although top picks Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball and Jonathan Isaac underachieved for various reasons, gems like Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum emerged as key contributors for teams that barged their way deep into the playoffs. Although likely Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons was part of the '16 draft class, Lauri Markkanen, Josh Jackson, Kyle Kuzma, Dennis Smith, Jr., De'Aaron Fox, John Collins and second-round pick Dillon Brooks emerged as invaluable catalysts for their respective teams.

While there may be trades at the top that could throw this whole event into chaos, there are indeed profitable opportunities for you to wet your beak on. Follow along with this year's mock draft and feel free to tail any picks below.

A number of shops will likely offer varying proposition wagers, but the numbers this column is working with are available at [...] as of Thursday morning.

First up in Brooklyn will be the Phoenix Suns, who have all but assured Arizona product Deandre Ayton that he'll be the choice. As a result, he's -2500 to be the first to shake commissioner Adam Silver's hand, which means every 100 bucks you wager on this sure thing will yield you $4.

Even though Igor Kokoskov has a relationship with top prospect Luka Doncic, I don't recommend throwing even a few bucks down the toilet on the +1500 odds. Even though Marvin Bagley is from Phoenix and also went in and impressed GM Ryan McDonough, riding with any other player (+1200) isn't worth pursuing. Ayton will go No. 1.

The only bet that I can be more sure of revolves around LiAngelo Ball, who won't hear his name called a year after his older brother went No. 2. Even before getting trouble in China while at UCLA and flopping in Lithuania, he wasn't viewed as a legitimate NBA prospect. It's -4000 that he won't be selected, while dad LaVar can open the Big Baller Brand purse strings and invest in +1400 that someone will lose their minds and takes a shot on LiAngelo. I'd recommend you don't follow suit.

I wouldn't touch the Doncic prop, which lists second or better at +190 and third or worse at -240. Although the Kings could indeed pull the trigger on Doncic, they could pass and the Hawks might opt to move down or take Jaren Jackson, Jr. That's too much uncertainty for me.

As far as a lock is concerned, going with Bagley to go third or better at -400 is pricey but likely to pay off. If you're feeling froggy enough to bet $4000 to win a grand, "may the odds be ever in your favor," as the marvelous Elizabeth Banks' Effie Trinket wishes most in "The Hunger Games."

Texas center Mo Bamba is, in my opinion, a lock to go in the top five, so I wouldn't balk at -240 odds. A team like the Knicks could trade up into the No. 4 spot to steal him ahead of Dallas, which I'd expect will scoop him up if he's there for them at 5. I don't recommend looking to nearly double your money (+190) by betting he'll still be around at No. 6.

It's hard to imagine Alabama point guard Collin Sexton falling out of the top 10, so I see tremendous value on riding that at -140. The most athletic lead guard available could go as high as No. 6 to Orlando, so if you're looking for a best bet where you're laying the least amount of juice, Sexton is the way to go.

The Magic could take Trae Young, as may Chicago if they're looking for firepower off the bench behind projected starters Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine. At the same time, both may pass, so I'd lean toward 8th or worse (-145) over 7th or better (+110) but recommend staying away altogether.

Another point guard option that I see as potentially profitable involves UCLA standout Justin Holiday, who will certainly join his two older brothers in the NBA next season. If you're willing to back him going before the 22nd pick, that bet is available at -110. If you think he'll still be there, the odds there are -110. I've got Holiday going to Milwaukee at 17 and see a few other spots where he could hear his name called at 21 or higher.

Kentucky's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is at -350 to be drafted before the final lottery pick at No. 14, which I also see as a lock since he could go in the Top 10 and isn't likely to be passed on by the Clippers twice.

If you're feeling sadistic and feel up to rooting for a draft prospect to slide, Michigan State's Miles Bridges is your best bet. Concerns over him potentially being a 'tweener even with the pro game evolving could lead to the Spartans' standout slipping out of the lottery. I have him being on the board after pick 20, while the prop available at [...] is 12th or worse at -250.

Electric Texas Tech wing Zhaire Smith is my choice on who to back if you're looking to avoid laying juice since 15th or better pays (+120). Riding 16th or worse is favored at -150, but I have the Clippers utilizing one of their two back-to-back lottery selections on Smith.

Props on Miami's Lonnie Walker IV (13/14), Villanova's Donte DeVincenzo (18/19) and Maryland's Kevin Huerter (20/21) are too close to call in my opinion, though I'd caution that you don't fade the Terps' sharp-shooter simply because he tore ligaments in his hand and had to undergo surgery. Teams are intrigued enough by the combination of his size and shooting prowess that he could still go in the teens.

There are odds available on whether Villanova's Jalen Brunson and Duke's Gary Trent, Jr. will hear their names called in the first round, with 'no' favored in both cases. If you're down to ride for one of those guys, make it Brunson, the reigning National Player of the Year. Both should be able to play at this level, but Brunson's ability to run an offense and lead a team, even as a backup point guard, is more of a sure thing.

Finally, there's a prop available that asks for the exact number of defending champion Wildcats to hear their names called in the first round. Four, which would require both Brunson and Omari Spellman, to join Mikal Bridges and DiVincenzo, pays +650 and could be worth a shot. That's what I've got happening in my mock, but is obviously no sure thing.

Two (+100) and three (+110) are basically even money bets, and I'd bank on at least a third member of Jay Wright's 2017-18 team going up to see Silver after going Top-30.

Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA or e-mail him at [email protected]

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