Best Bets to Make on 2020 NBA Draft


LaMelo Ball hands on his knees

LaMelo Ball could be the first overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Photo from @BleacherReport (Twitter).

  • Anthony Edwards tops LaMelo Ball as the betting favorite to go No. 1 in the 2020 NBA Draft
  • Edwards leads a strong contingent of freshmen players that are in Top 10 draft range
  • See below for our favorite bets for the 2020 NBA Draft

The NBA has already gone into wild mode, with marquee players already changing area codes, teams rounding out their rosters, and superstars, as always, seeking out greener pastures, all in search of that elusive chip.

There’s so much activity, you’d be forgiven if you forgot the NBA Draft was on tap this evening, a virtual event that could potentially be the site of big moves — some that might not even involve the stars of tomorrow.

In any case, let’s add some extra intrigue to a night that’s should pack plenty of buzz, with some of our favorite 2020 draft night value bets.

Let’s start at the top.

2020 NBA 1st Overall Pick Odds

Player DraftKings Odds FanDuel Odds
Anthony Edwards -118 -135
LaMelo Ball -121 +100
James Wiseman +900 +600
Obi Toppin +10000 +10000
Deni Avdija +20000 +10000

*Odds taken Nov. 17

Analysis: There’s only one thing clear at this point: James Wiseman presents the best value, but is that even close to realistic? The NBA Draft odds have shifted almost daily from Edwards, the NBA-built, NBA-ready scoring wing from Georgia, to LaMelo Ball, the exquisite passing, lengthy and heady lead guard that played in the Aussie pro league. And vice-versa.

Both are not shying away from the shine, either, with Edwards saying at his media avail that Minnesota suited him just fine, as basketball wasn’t played in the snow. Ball, for his part, said that he was “born for this” top-billing spotlight.

The latest odds show Edwards as the betting favorite position, and going to the T’Wolves makes sense. He’d be the third and up-and-coming wheel behind KAT Towns and D’Angelo Russell, with a wing position just waiting for him to soak up.

However, LaMelo offers the best playmaking skills in the draft, and that should keep Towns well fed, even if it doesn’t actually make the smoothest pairing in the backcourt. Defensively, it already makes me cringe, and a Ball-Russell combo projects to chew up a large chunk of shots at a low shooting percentage.

Somehow, Minnesota finds a way to bunger this up. Why not take some plus odds while you’re here?

The pick: Ball (+100 at DraftKings)

Freshmen Drafted In Top 10

How Many Freshman Will Get Drafted in the Top 10? Odds
Over 4.5 -130
Under 4.5 +106

*Odds from FanDuel

Analysis: These are more math equations than anything else, so let’s do some counting. We know that Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman are basically locks for the top 3, while most mock drafts have Onyeka Okongwu as a definite top-10 choice. And from here we’re left with a few players that can make or break this bet.

The first player is Auburn’s Isaac Okoro, who enters the draft labelled as one of the top defenders, with a jumper that could use some fine tuning. He’s hovering around the fringes of the top 10, where he’s been linked to the Wizards at #9 and the Suns at #10. Both franchises could definitely use some hard-nosed play from the wing spots.

The problem is, he’s bunched up with a group of sophomores that bring similar body types, that grade out higher offensively and lower defensively. They include Devin Vassell, Saddiq Bey and Aaron Nesmith.

The other player is Patrick Williams, the Florida State Frosh that’s shot up draft boards, and rumoured to be promised a spot if he’s still available at seven to the Detroit Pistons.

After Williams, teams might be reaching if they use their top 10 pick on players like Memphis’ other big man, Precious Achiuwa, Kentucky’s Tyrese Maxey or Stanford’s Tyrell Terry.

I already told you how I feel about Williams’ draft positioning odds along with a whole host of others. With Williams and Okoro too easily able to fall out of the top 10, it’s too risky for me.

The pick: UNDER 4.5 freshmen drafted (+106)

Big 10 Conference NBA Draft Picks

How Many Players From the Big 10 Get Drafted in the First Round? Odds
Over 1.5 +225
Under 1.5 -286

*Odds from DraftKings

Analysis: This one really comes down to how much you believe in Michigan State Spartans players Xavier Tillman and Cassius Winston. Maryland big man Jalen Smith is pretty entrenched as a first-round selection ,with his combination of ball handling skills and ability to shoot the ball. He put up 15.5 points and 10.5 rebounds while shooting 36.8% from distance as a sophomore.

Tillman and Winston both grade out to the 28-35 draft range, with some experts going so far as to sneak both into the back end of the first round. Tillman likely gets the nod here, because if the selections stay as is, the Toronto Raptors pick at 29 and the Boston Celtics at 30.

Both teams could use an influx of interior heft. Tillman may be undersized at 6-foot-8, but he’s a workhorse and won Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year as a junior this season. Boston lacked the depth of big men to get past Miami in the East Finals, while Toronto could be saying goodbye to both Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol to free agency.

Winston also makes sense to the Raptors for a steady ballhandler as Kyle Lowry begins his exit stage left. There are questions about his size at 6-foot-1, but he has a winning pedigree and Toronto is one of the top pipelines of identifying and developing talent. Either way, I like this bet a lot.

The pick: OVER 1.5 Big 10 players drafted (+225)