Technically, the 2020-21 NBA season isn’t over yet – it truly ends with next Thursday’s NBA draft. Here’s a look at some prop bets we recommend at top-rated sportsbooks.
2021 NBA Draft
Thursday, July 29, 2021 – 08:00 PM ET at Barclays Center
You thought the 2020-21 NBA season concluded with the Milwaukee Bucks beating the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 of the NBA Finals for their first title in 50 years? Not so fast, my friend. Technically, the 2021 NBA Draft puts the finishing touches on the season because while these players obviously won’t take the court until next season, the draft order is from this past year’s records.
ESPN and ABC will televise the first round of the draft from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on July 29 and the second round is only on ESPN. This draft zooms by unlike the three-day marathon that is the NFL Draft.
The Brooklyn Nets are +325 favorites on top-rated books to win the 2022 NBA title, but they aren’t going to get any better in the immediate future in this draft despite having four picks currently: Number 27, 44, 49 and 59. It will be the last time for years that the Nets own their first-round pick because of the James Harden trade.
Barring trades, four teams have zero picks in the two-round draft: Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves and Portland Trail Blazers. It’s very possible a big-name player is dealt leading into the draft or on draft night, although I wouldn’t expect the Blazers’ Damian Lillard to be one of them.
NBA champion Milwaukee has one pick: number 31, the first of the second round (Bucks’ own pick owed to Houston). Oklahoma City has the most picks with six, including numbers six 16 and 18 in Round One. No chance the Thunder make all six. Take it into consideration for your NBA picks.
Breaking Down Draft Props
It’s not considered a very strong international draft with only eight international prospects who could be drafted – 49 of them who had previously declared as early entry candidates withdrew at the deadline. To that end, Bovada (visit our Bovada Review) offers an over-under of 2.5 players from non-NCAA teams drafted in the Top 10, with both options at -115.
Congo big man Jonathan Kuminga, who didn’t play college basketball this past season but in the G League, is a lock to be a Top 10 pick. Bovada gives him NBA odds of -10000 to do so. He could go as high as fourth.
Former Michigan forward Franz Wagner from Germany also should go in the Top 10 – he’s -150 to do so. Then, it gets tricky. One of Alperen Sengun (Turkey), Josh Giddey (Australia) or Kai Jones (Bahamas, University of Texas) would have to be the third to win over on this prop. Giddey has an over-under draft position of 12, Sengun 13.5 and Jones 14. Giddey is even money in a matchup with Jones (-130). I like Giddey there.
There is no question which player is going first overall, presumably to the Detroit Pistons unless they shockingly trade the pick: Oklahoma State freshman Cade Cunningham, who is -5000 at BetOnline (visit out BetOnline Review) to go first. That’s a done deal as he’s clearly the top prospect.
Thus, the draft really starts at number two with the Houston Rockets. To be picked second, G League guard Jalen Green is -200 and Southern Cal big man Evan Mobley is +200. The Rockets are believed to be leaning toward Green because they need backcourt help more than in the frontcourt due to the presence of promising young center Christian Wood.
The Cleveland Cavaliers pick third, and probably will take whichever player the Rockets don’t. To go third, Mobley is the -200 favorite with Green at +150 and Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs at +200. Cleveland surely is praying that Mobley is there because the Cavs are set in the backcourt with Collin Sexton and Darius Garland – although there have been trade rumors around both – but need a center.
My favorite name in this draft is Auburn forward JT Thor. He was just so-so as a freshman for the Tigers in averaging 9.4 points and 5.0 rebounds but he’s 6-foot-10 with room to grow as one of the youngest prospects in the draft. His size, length shooting prowess and defensive versatility don’t grow on trees, and he looked good at the Combine. Any team that takes Thor has to assume he won’t contribute for the first two years. Thor is given an over-under draft position of 30.5, which means the end of the first round.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.