The 2016 NBA Draft will be held Thursday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and while an actual NBA game won’t be played again until the fall (not counting Summer League) there are still opportunities to place wagers on happenings in the league. As far as the draft is concerned, there are a number of prop bets to consider, even with many expecting the first two picks in the draft to be LSU’s Ben Simmons and Duke’s Brandon Ingram.
There are a variety of prop bets available, including those of the head-to-head (which player will be drafted first), who a specific team will pick and over/under. Below are five of the more intriguing prop bets, with BetOnline via OddsShark supplying the odds.
1. Which Player Will Be Taken at No. 3
As noted above the general expectation is that Simmons will be drafted first overall by the 76ers and Ingram will go to the Lakers with the next pick. Boston at No. 3 is where the intrigue is for a variety of reasons, one of which being whether or not the Celtics decide to keep the pick. Team president and general manager Danny Ainge has a total of eight picks in this draft, and that will have an impact on the Celtics’ course of action.
Four players are listed on the betting sheet: Providence guard Kris Dunn (-120), California forward Jaylen Brown (+325), Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Dragan Bender (+400) and Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (+600). Various reports had Dunn and Brown as the two most likely options for Boston in this spot, but the number of guards on their roster is something to consider when pondering the possibility of either Dunn or Hield here.
2. Who Gets Picked First: Jamal Murray or Buddy Hield
Hield won multiple national player of the year awards as a senior at Oklahoma and led the Sooners to the Final Four. But the NBA Draft is an annual exercise in “production vs. potential,” and in this particular instance Hield is being pitted against a player in Murray who was quite productive in his lone season at Kentucky. Also there’s the fact that Murray spent a substantial amount of time as a lead guard before going to Kentucky, where Tyler Ulis ran the point.
The odds project Murray (-300) to go before Hield (+240) Thursday night, but it’s close when looking at the mock drafts. As of Wednesday night, DraftExpress.com has Hield going fifth to Minnesota (they’re in dire need of perimeter shooting) and Murray going to New Orleans with the next pick and the same can be said of NBADraft.net. However, NBA.com, ESPN and SI.com all have Murray going ahead of Hield in their respective mock drafts.
3. How Many International Players Will Be Picked in the First Round
BetOnline via OddsShark sets the number in this over/under wager at 13, giving similar odds for both the over and the under (-115). The aforementioned Bender (from Croatia) is seen as the best international prospect in the pool, and players such as Hield (from the Bahamas), Murray (Canada), Utah center Jakob Poeltl (Austria), Kentucky forward Skal Labissiere (Haiti) and Gonzaga forward Domantas Sabonis (Lithuania) are projected to be first round picks as well.
While the odds are even, going for the over on this wager may be the route with this pick given the pool of college players in this year’s draft. While there are attractive options for teams, such as Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon and Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine, the emphasis placed on potential could benefit younger international players viewed to have “upside.”
4. When Will Buddy Hield Be Selected
The line for this over/under wager is set at 5 1/2 picks, meaning that if he goes fifth or higher the under wins and at sixth or lower the over would win. The odds lean towards the over, with that being set at -175 while the odds for the under are currently at +145. As noted in the bit on whether he or Kentucky’s Jamal Murray will be selected first, Minnesota is seen as the tipping point.
The Timberwolves do have Ricky Rubio and Zach LaVine as players they allow to operate with the ball in their hands, and when combined with the lack of consistent perimeter shooting on the roster that could benefit Hield. Phoenix at four appears to be a tough fit given the fact that they took Devin Booker last year and he had a productive rookie season, and who knows what Boston will do at three.
5. Who Gets Picked First: Jaylen Brown or Dragan Bender
Brown’s draft “stock” has been all over the place, depending upon which mock drafts/reports are doing the evaluating. The most common landing spot for him on mock drafts has been Sacramento at No. 8, which is as low as he’s been. USA Today had him going to Boston at No. 3, which falls in line with the recent reports that the Celtics are considering either he or Kris Dunn with that pick.
As for Bender, he’s been projected to go anywhere from third to eighth with the four spot (Phoenix) being the most common slot on mock draft boards. With Tyson Chandler on the back end of his career, adding a big man such as Bender could be something the Suns seriously consider (Washington’s Marquese Chriss is another possibility). The current odds favor Brown (-100), but going with Bender (+130) may be the better choice here.