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2023 NBA Draft Props and Best Bets

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We are just one day away from the 2023 NBA Draft, and the rumors are flying across social media. At this point last season, the overwhelming consensus was that the Orlando Magic were locked into Jabari Smith as the No. 1 pick, lowering his odds to -10000 to be selected first overall once NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski started tweeting his “inside sources.” It led to betting chaos on draft night when Paolo Banchero, not Smith, was actually selected first overall

 

There has already been fluctuation in the market as recently as Tuesday night, where Wojnarowski reported that Brandon Miller, not Scoot Henderson, would be Thursday’s likely choice as Charlotte’s No. 2 overall pick

With about 36 hours left before the draft, the only certainty is Victor Wembanyama is going first overall to San Antonio. 

Zac Graham and Mike Randle got together to offer up our favorite bets to make ahead of the 2023 NBA Draft Thursday.

Mike Randle’s Best Bets for the 2023 NBA Draft

Scoot Henderson to go No. 2 Overall

(+200, DraftKings Sportsbook)

Could Woj be wrong again? Possibly, but there still exists the chance of a team to rise up and trade for that No. 2 pick. Zac and I discussed earlier this week that the Pelicans were possibly trading Zion Williamson to move up and grab Scoot Henderson. While the momentum of Miller to Charlotte grew throughout the night, I still see value in sprinkling on Henderson to go second overall, especially via trade. No one is trading up for Brandon Miller, it would be for Henderson, who has already drawn comps to former MVP Derrick Rose. Henderson just turned 19 years old in February, with two years of preparation in the NBA’s G-League. At 17 years old, he was the youngest player in G-League history. At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, with a lightning-quick first step, he has a chance to be a dominant force in the NBA for the next decade. 

Jordan Hawkins Under 15.5 Draft Position

(+105, DraftKings Sportsbook)

Jordan Hawkins is the best shooter in this draft and excels at coming off screens and hitting off-balance three-pointers. In Connecticut’s run to the 2022-2023 NCAA Championship, Hawkins’ shooting prowess allowed for 6-foot-9 Adama Sanogo to control the interior, leaving defenses without a way to consistently defend the Huskies. This 3P against San Diego State ended the Aztecs comeback dreams. 

Hawkins took a massive production leap from his freshman to sophomore season, improving from 5.8 PPG to 16.2 PPG, and increasing his 3P accuracy from 33% to 38%. I went to Madison Square Garden for the Big East Tournament and was thoroughly impressed with his catch-and-shoot ability, which will translate perfectly to the NBA. He posted breakout games against St. John’s (31 points), Xavier (28 points), and Oklahoma State (26 points) while shooting a superb 88% from the FT line throughout the season. On our FTN Bet Tracker, I grabbed Hawkins at Under 15.5 Draft Position at +105, a value I expect to drop throughout the next 24 hours. 

Jarace Walker Over 6.5 Draft Position

(-130, DraftKings Sportsbook)

I don’t project Jarace Walker’s upside to be comparable to other players projected around this area. With rumors of Cam Whitmore possibly sliding, both Thompson brothers (Amen and Ausar) and Arkansas point guard Anthony Black all bring much higher ceilings than the blue-collar former University of Houston. Walker projects as a Precious Achiuwa-like player, who wins with defense, rebounding and hustle. Is that worth a top seven pick in the NBA Draft? 

Walker was a very strong college player, measuring 6-foot-8 and 250 pounds, with the ability to shoot from beyond the arc (34.7%). However, he only averaged 2.8 3PA per game, and struggled (66%) from the free-throw line. Walker only averaged 11 PPG and 6.8 RPG, with a lot of single-digit performances. In Houston’s biggest three games (against Memphis) within the AAC conference, Walker posted moderate stat lines: 

  • 4 points, 8 rebounds
  • 10 points, 7 rebounds
  • 13 points, 3 rebounds

That does not translate to an NBA starter, which leads me to believe he won’t go this early in Thursday’s draft. Walker projects as a valuable bench player, and I love the Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor’s comparison to Carl Landry, a former second-round pick. 

Precious Achiuwa was drafted No. 20 overall in the 2020 NBA Draft, and I think that’s a fair comparison. I grabbed Walker over the 6.5 draft position, and still like it at -130 this morning. 

Olivier-Maxence Prosper to Be a Top 20 Draft Pick

(+110, FanDuel Sportsbook)

Olivier-Maxence Prosper took a huge step forward as an NBA prospect after a superb second season with Marquette. He attended this year’s draft combine and dominated the first game with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Prosper declined to play in the second game, after showing off his athleticism and length to all prospective NBA teams. His 7-1 wingspan is perfect as a potential “3 and D” player, and he embraced the role of defensive stopper for Shaka Smart during the Golden Eagles’ run to a Big East Tournament championship. Rumors are starting to fly about Prosper flying up draft boards, which makes this +110 value very appealing. 

Bilal Coulibaly to Be a Top 10 Pick

(+190, DraftKings Sportsbook)

If you want somewhat of a long shot, I like Bilal Coulibaly to be drafted inside the top 10. The Mavericks are rumored to be trading this pick, and the physical comparisons to current NBA players are certainly favorable. 

Coulibaly is still only 18 years old and was fantastic in the LNB playoffs for Metropolitans 92 in France. He is a superior defender, explosive athlete, and has steadily improved his shooting. This level of upside is worth a top-10 gamble at +190. 

 

Zac Graham’s Best Bets for the 2023 NBA Draft

Trayce Jackson-Davis First-Round Pick

(+300, DraftKings Sportsbook)

I think one of the teams in the late first takes a shot on TJD. He’s an unproven shooter but contributes in so many ways that NBA teams can’t ignore the upside, especially a franchise like the Pacers who control picks 26, 29 and 32. 

Cam Whitmore Top-5 Pick

(+155, DraftKings Sportsbook)

I’ve got Whitmore at 5, and I think he could still potentially be the pick for Houston at 4. 

Jarace Walker Over 6.5 Pick

(-130, DraftKings Sportsbook)

Wish I had gotten on this a little earlier, but this still seems like good value as we move closer to draft night.

Jordan Hawkins Under 15.5 Pick

(+105, DraftKings Sportsbook)

Hawkins has been a guy I’ve thought for a few weeks now could go at 12 to OKC or 13 to Toronto. Little extra buffer here with the 15.5 line. 

Top 5 Exact Order – Wembanyama, Henderson, Miller, Am. Thompson, Whitmore

(+750, DraftKings Sportsbook)

Going to bet on myself here (even after the Woj report on the second pick Tuesday night) and throw a unit on the top five order in my mock draft.

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