The NBA Draft is just a few days away, and while the No. 1 pick may be all but set in stone, a deep top half of the class has left some intrigue as to where the top prospects may land. If basketball betting fans are so inclined to make a quick (and small) buck on Arizona’s Deandre Ayton going No. 1, go ahead and do so.
The University of Arizona prospect had a phenomenal freshman season, is ready to play right away and fills a need for the Suns. After Phoenix picks is where the draft gets dicey. And we’ve got five prop bets that yield good value at 888sports.
He’s the youngest first-round prospect in the class and has a skill set that NBA general managers are gushing over. Jackson was an elite defender at the rim in his only season at Michigan State, and he also made 38 3-pointers. He was the fifth player since 1992 to record 35 3-pointers and block 100 shots, and he did it as a freshman only averaging 21.8 minutes per game.
He’s a perfect complementary piece to what the Hawks already have in John Collins, a bulky power forward more known for his offensive game than his interior defense. Jackson has the 3-point ability the Hawks have been missing since Al Horford left and the Hawks can swing for the fences on this pick, in part because they also pick at 19 and 30. 888 Sports has Jackson’s odds of moving into the top 3 at +140.
Overshadowed by Bagley at Duke, Carter was still one of the top defenders in the country and has excellent footwork that has him being compared to Al Horford. The problem in the draft, like it was at Duke, is that Carter may again be overshadowed by more talented big men. The good news is he’s a perfect fit as an interior defender that both the Cavaliers at No. 8 and the Knicks at No. 9 are looking for.
But if the top-5 goes as expected (Ayton, Doncic, Jackson, Bagley, Bamba) and the Magic grab Trae Young, the Bulls would love the opportunity to draft Michael Porter Jr. at 7. That leaves Carter looking at being drafted 8th or 9th. Carter’s odds of going later than 7 are at -106 on 888 Sports.
Marvin Bagley dominated his lone year at Duke. He was the only player in college basketball to average 21 points and 11 rebounds and shoot 61 percent from the field, and at 6-foot-11 he’s versatile, athletic and has an improving jump shot. And just two days before the draft it appears, according to a report from Draft Express, that the Kings have set their sights on drafting the talented forward who was supposed to be playing his senior year of high school basketball this past fall.
It makes sense, too. Bagley’s talent in this class is unquestioned, and being able to pair him in the frontcourt with a rim protector like Willie Cauley-Stein is a perfect complement. Luka Doncic was expected to be the second pick but the Kings invested a top-5 pick in De’Aaron Fox a year ago and apparently feel comfortable with him as the future of the position. That puts Bagley at No. 2, and these reports are pretty strong. Despite the large odds from 888 Sports (-335), this one feels pretty safe.
Bamba has been turning heads in the pre-draft process for his measurements – his 7-foot-10 wingspan is the longest recorded in NBA Draft Combine history – and his maturity. The 19-year-old has dazzled in pre-draft interviews and, accordingly, is shooting up draft boards. Bamba could go as high as No. 3 to the Hawks and his floor, in this writer’s opinion, is Dallas at No. 5.
The Mavericks haven’t had a defensive anchor since Tyson Chandler in 2011, and Bamba would pair well with last year’s rookie, Dennis Smith Jr. It’s unlikely a player of Bamba’s size and skill set falls on draft night, even with the surplus of bigs at the top of the draft. Some team will see a 7-footer with incredible length who can also stretch his range to the 3-point line and pounce on the opportunity to draft him. 888 Sports has Bamba in the top 5 at -118.
The first player in college basketball history to lead the country in points and assists doesn’t come without his faults. He’s undersized and turnover-prone, the former of which could be a real issue on the defensive end. But Young also provides an offensive dynamic we haven’t seen from a draft prospect since Steph Curry – he’s that good. Young had private workouts for four teams: the Knicks, Hawks, Magic and Bulls.
Only the Knicks (ninth) pick outside the top seven (Hawks pick 3rd; Magic pick 6th; Bulls pick 7th). The Magic at No. 6 have been linked to Young after dealing starting point guard Elfrid Payton at the trade deadline last year. And the Bulls are reportedly enamored with Young even though they traded for Kris Dunn a year ago. Expect Young to go 6 to the Magic, and 7 to the Bulls if Orlando goes big. 888sports has the odds of Young going in the top 7 at -200, and that seems safe.