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How to Bet the 2024 NBA Draft

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The NBA draft is a fun night where every team is full of optimism about the new, young players they will add to their roster. This year’s draft might not have a likely star player, but it’s deep with guys who can be starters in the league and contribute to winning teams.

That has created a dynamic full of uncertainty and opened the possibility for as many trades and surprise selections as we’ve ever seen. Not only could that be fun to watch, it creates the chance for us to find a lot of value in the betting markets. NBA Draft odds are generally very soft and quick to move on reports that may not be concrete. That gives a good opportunity to make some good wagers. Let’s take a look at some general advice on betting the draft and breakdown a few bets I’ve already made.

NBA Draft Betting Do’s and Don’ts

DO read several mock drafts to get a feel for the scenario that person envisions
DO NOT lock yourself into any mock draft being “the truth”

Mock drafts are very useful and often the only tools we have available to help us understand which players might go where and how certain teams are arranging their boards. People who create mock drafts are connected to decision makers for teams drafting or people close to players being drafted. That gives them information the rest of us can’t get and need. Unfortunately, the format of a mock draft locks them into projecting one specific scenario. They have to pick one player for each spot which means they can only show us one version of what might happen. That is still valuable for those of us betting the draft, but we have to remember that each mock is just one specific scenario as we evaluate them. This means we want to look at a player’s highest, lowest, and average projected picks across a group of mocks.

DO follow Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania with notifications on so you don’t miss a single post
DO NOT immediately bet based on something Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania just posted

Wojnarowski and Charania are in competition to get information out as quickly as possible. That means markets will move and react as they post things like, “Team ABC seems to be preparing to draft player XYZ.” Although they are often accurate in their reporting, the draft is always full of false signaling and information designed to push teams in certain directions. Before the 2022 NBA draft, when Woj tweeted that Jabari Smith Jr. would the No. 1 pick, the markets quickly made Smith the prohibitive favorite to be the top selection. Paolo Banchero was drafted first that night and bettors cashed some nice tickets at long odds. We have to follow Woj and Shams to understand the market moves as they come, but don’t assume everything they say is written in stone.

DO check odds at as many books as possible
DO NOT bet only at books where you have money or are offering small boosts or rewards

This is an important rule for betting on anything, but especially when betting smaller events like drafts. Each sportsbook handles these differently, and there isn’t a reliable oddscreen like Don Best to show pricing for everyone else. Prices will be different everywhere and often in a meaningful way. At the very least, this makes price shopping even more important because getting the best numbers available will impact your ROI significantly. This also creates opportunities for us to arbitrage, bet both sides of a bet at a guaranteed profit (e.g. lay -120, take +150), or open up middles like Player XYZ to go over pick 14.5 and under pick 17.5. There’s never a bad time to open more accounts, but this sure is a great time to do just that. Make sure you check at FTN to get sign up bonuses for free!

DO focus on making bets at longer odds for players who have a wider range of expected outcomes
DO NOT lay too much juice because a player seems to be locked into a specific pick or a tight range of expected outcomes

The top choices of the NBA draft often go as expected each year, but after those first few picks, things can and often do change. Teams trade in and out of their picks. Players are taken much earlier than expected and others fall as organizations change their plans in real time. This kind of uncertainty means variance and variance means there is more value in betting things at bigger prices. Think through possible scenarios and try to find players who could be taken earlier if a team in the top 10 misses out on the guy they wanted. Try to find players who will fall several picks if a certain team doesn’t take them. There are myriad possible outcomes and especially in a year when even the No. 1 draft pick is being discussed in trade talks. Look to make smaller bets at bigger odds to take advantage of any chaos.

2024 NBA Draft Best Bets

Donovan Clingan No. 1 Pick

(+260, Caesars), 1U

Alex Sarr No. Pick

(+650, Caesars), 0.25U

With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at how the betting markets are pricing things and what the best mock drafters are expecting. There is no better or more interesting place to start this year than at pick No. 1, which belongs to the Atlanta Hawks, who are expected to take Zaccharie Risacher. The French wing is priced at -250, 71%-plus breakeven probability, and deeper to go first despite some people reporting that the Hawks remain undecided. They are considering Risacher along with Donovan Clingan and Alex Sarr although he has declined to work out for Atlanta. What if the Hawks decide Risacher is too similar to young players already on the roster like Jalen Johnson and AJ Griffin? Clint Capela’s contract expires at the end of next season making him an enticing trade piece that Atlanta would need to replace. Donovan Clingan could step into that role and eventually be even better than Capela. FTN’s own Zac Graham even mocked Clingan to go No. 1. Some are saying that Sarr’s refusal to work out for the Hawks is due to his desire to be a Washington Wizard. Sarr could also slide into Capela’s role or maybe Atlanta takes Sarr knowing they can trade him to the Wizards and select the guy they want at No. 2. There is a lot of possibility here and I think pricing Risacher at 71%+ to go first isn’t right. I’m betting on Clingan to go No. 1 with a smaller bet also on Sarr to go first.

Donovan Clingan No. 3 Pick

(+330, DraftKings Sportsbook), 0.75U

The next inflection point in the draft is the third pick which is owned by the Houston Rockets. They have a roster full of young, talented players and are closer to “win now” than they are to “keep building.” That means pick No. 3 could be better used as a trade asset to acquire a veteran player or picks in the future for a trade later. Reed Sheppard is -200, 66.6% breakeven probability, to got at three, and most mocks have him locked in at three as well. Sheppard is a great shooter and the kind of player the Rockets want if they do pick here or that teams might trade up to get, but what if Risacher goes No. 1 and Sarr goes No. 2? Teams like the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City have the assets to acquire this pick, and both have expressed interest in doing just that grab Donovan Clingan. Hopefully Clingan goes first, but at +330 I think there’s value in also betting on him to be picked at No. 3.

Zaccharie Risacher No. 4 Pick

(+650, FanDuel Sportsbook), 0.5U

Let’s circle back to Zaccharie Risacher and think more about what happens if he doesn’t go to the Atlanta Hawks at No. 1. The next team in line who has been connected with him is San Antonio. The Spurs have Victor Wembanyama, who is good friends with Risacher from playing together in France. Risacher’s shooting and play in the pick and roll make him a perfect fit next to San Antonio’s star player. Most mocks have the Spurs taking Stephen Castle, but most mocks don’t have Risacher being available at that spot. At +650, I think there’s a lot of value in betting the Frenchmen to fall to San Antonio in the draft.

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