The top of the 2018 NBA Draft is bound to be mayhem for basketball betting fans. Past Deandre Ayton as the consensus choice to go first overall to the Suns, question marks remain at just about every spot (although, as we wrote Tuesday, Marvin Bagley to the Kings at No. 2 looks like a solid bet).
But there’s more to tonight than just those top 8 picks, important as they may be to the futures of certain franchises. Ladbrokes went a step further than just setting odds for the top dogs. Here are four solid bets to make during tonight’s NBA Draft for those players drafted later in the first round.
We’ll assume Deandre Ayton, Luka Doncic, Marvin Bagley, Jaren Jackson and Mo Bamba are off the board. Those seem to be the consensus top 5 players, while Michael Porter Jr. has a good chance of falling into that sixth slot, in whatever order.
The Bulls appear to be honed in on one of three players at No. 7: Porter if he falls, or Wendell Carter and Trae Young. Ironically those two players, a rim protector in Carter and a shooting point guard in Young, are also needs for the Cavaliers (who may be looking to trade up and draft Porter, too).
And multiple New York outlets are projecting the Knicks to select Kentucky wing Kevin Knox over Bridges, who is already 21 and will be 22 years old on Opening Night. That means Bridges will likely fall out of the top 9, and he’s a perfect fit to the Sixers at No. 10 or the Clippers at Nos. 12 and 13. With so much hype surrounding the young players in this class, the four-year junior in Bridges may wait a bit to hear his name called.
A potential Lottery pick after his freshman year, Bridges may wind up being a cautionary tale about returning to school. He didn’t do much to help his draft stock in Year 2, and with Knox rising up draft boards – as well as the Hornets targeting a point guard with the No. 11 pick – Bridges looks like a solid bet to go No. 12 or later.
He could even wind up falling outside the Lottery as questions about his true position come to light. The Sixers have been linked to Bridges (as well as the other Bridges, Mikal) but with Kevin Knox on the rise, Miles will likely slip tonight, at least past the 11th selection.
No one has seen their stock rise more since April than the Villanova sharpshooter. He dominated in the national title game, helping the Wildcats to a national championship. Then he was the NBA Draft Combine’s best performer in May, and has quietly helped himself in private interviews and team workouts.
He’s now being regarded as a first-round pick, but let’s not get carried away by moving him into the top 18. His stock has steadily increased but he’ll likely still be selected past fellow athletic guards Zhaire Smith, Lonnie Walker and Jerome Robinson. He’s a lock to go in the first round, but it’ll likely be pick No. 19 or later.
This one feels pretty safe. Though Allen is a senior – ancient in NBA Draft waters – he’s one of this class’ best shooters, can play either guard position and has a toughness and edge to his game that will play well at the next level.
Where this draft class is flush on potentially elite big men, it really lacks in versatility in the backcourt. Allen may not have the greatest upside, but someone with NBA range and excellent athleticism has a spot in the NBA, and Allen will have a spot in the first round. Teams like Utah (21st), Portland (24th), Boston (27th) and Golden State (28th) all make sense.
Call this one a gut feeling. Brunson’s deficiencies have been noted in the pre-draft process: he’s short, not overly quick and will be 22 years old in a few months. But the Villanova point guard, named Player of the Year, brings so many winning qualities to the table that it feels like some team will take a chance on him in the first round. He shot 52 percent from the field, 41 percent from deep and led the Wildcats to a second national championship in his third season.
There’s something to be said for a will-be rookie having veteran-like qualities, high character and an efficient style of play (think Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon, who was drafted in the second round). It wouldn’t be surprising to see a team like the Celtics (27th), Warriors (28th) or Hawks (30th) take a chance on him. He’s also a prime candidate for some team drafting early in the second round to move back into the first round and snatch him up. He’ll be a wanted commodity for good reason.