NBA draft odds at Sportsbooks focus on picks after Simmons

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The Philadelphia 76ers have reportedly told LSU forward Ben Simmons they will take him No. 1 overall at the NBA draft at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Thursday, but how everything else shakes out is an educated guess.

The most daring prop on the NBA Draft betting board at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com is +500 on the first two picks not being Simmons and Duke’s Brandon Ingram, whom the Los Angeles Lakers appear to covet for their No. 2 choice.

The Boston Celtics, at this writing, have been denied in their attempts to flip the No. 3 choice for an established NBA player. Point guard Kris Dunn is the -120 favorite to go in that spot, as  teams are becoming more philosophically disposed to investing in polished players rather than the rawer talents. Teenage forwards Jaylen Brown (+325) and Dragan Bender (+400) are both possibilities to go No. 3, with Oklahoma Sooners G Buddy Hield at +600.

In a separate prop, Brown is listed at -130 to be taken before Bender, at +100.

The rebuilding Phoenix Suns can afford to take their time grooming a player, which is why 6-foot-10 PF Marquese Chriss is listed at -205 to go No. 4 overall. Chriss has been favorably compared to former Suns star Amar’e Stoudemire, who also turned pro before age 20. There are also odds on Bender (+350), Kentucky combo guard Jamal Murray (+450) and Brown (+500) going No. 4 overall.

The Minnesota Timberwolves, picking No. 5, have a crying need for a playmaking guard to help out third-year SG/SF Andrew Wiggins. Dunn (+150), Murray (+155) and Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield (+200) are closely bunched in the prop for that pick.

Speaking of Hield, there is always skepticism about how well a scoring guard’s skills will transfer to the NBA. The over/under on Hield’s draft slot is 5.5, with OVER (meaning later) paying -175 and UNDER paying +145. In the Hield/Murray prop, Hield pays +240 and Murray pays -300.

It will also be interesting to see how the NBA’s newfound emphasis on spreading the floor will affect the draft slot of Utah Utes C Jakob Poeltl, a true 7-footer. The over/under is 9.5, with OVER paying -170 and UNDER paying +140. Big men who will at least be a solid rim protector in the NBA don’t often go in the first 10 picks.

Since 2013, when a record 12 first-rounders hailed from outside the United States, there has been an annual guessing game with regards to how many international players will go in Round 1. That could be in jeopardy on Thursday, since  the over/under on international first-round picks is 13, paying -115 each way.

Simmons, Murray, Poeltl, Kansas PF Cheick Diallo and Gonzaga PF-C Domantas Sabonis are among the projected foreign-born first-rounders who played college ball in America.

NBA All-Star Weekend Odds: Slam Dunk, Three-Point, Skills Challenge

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One man having serious slam dunk contest buzz means better prices for the other three heading into NBA All-Star Weekend at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Dallas Mavericks rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. is a +170 favorite on the slam dunk contest odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (+220), Cleveland Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. (+265) and Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo (+400) are also in the running.

Smith has taken every opportunity this season to try to “posterize” some of the NBA’s biggest names, which might explain his low price. Mitchell was a late entry who has come on strongly for the surging Jazz and is capable of the upset. As the only forward in the contest, Nance could have a hard time getting the benefit of the doubt from the judges.

The three-point contest is unpredictable by nature but has some familiar faces with favorite Klay Thompson (+210) and defending champion Eric Gordon (+450). Devin Booker (+550), Paul George (+650), Wayne Ellington (+700), Bradley Beal (+750), Kyle Lowry (+1000) and Tobias Harris (+1100) complete the eight-marksman field.

Thompson is converting threes at a career-high 45.4 percent rate, so the Golden State Warriors guard will likely draw a lot of interest. However, Gordon outlasted him in 2017 and will also be in his former home arena. Ellington, who scores more than 75 percent of his points from beyond the arc, stacks up as the sleeper from deep.

The skills challenge lacks the cachet of the other two competitions, but is wide open due to its format that guarantees a guard vs. center matchup in the final. The Los Angeles Clippers’ Lou Williams (+350) is the favorite, but it might be wiser to favor a younger competitor, such as the Denver Nuggets’ second-year guard Jamal Murray (+400), in an event that is staked on speed and shooting.

Al Horford (+500) has the best price of any big man, but the Chicago Bulls’ Lauri Markkanen (+700) might have the skill-set more suited for the event. Murray, Markkanen and the Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid (+600) will each be out to be third international player in a row to win the event.

For more odds info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Cavaliers Shaky Betting Favorite Against Celtics on NBA Opening Night

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While the sample might not be big enough for a true trend, the Cleveland Cavaliers go into opening night with a dubious track record as a narrow favorite at home.

With some uncertainty over whether – or how much – LeBron James will play after missing most of the preseason with a sprained left ankle, the Cavaliers are listed as 3.5-point favorites against the Boston Celtics with a 212.5-point total in their NBA opening night matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Interestingly enough, the OddsShark NBA Database shows that the Cavaliers are 0-6 straight-up and against the spread since January 2016 when favored by four or fewer points in regular-season home games.

Both Boston and Cleveland had offseason turnover that included trading point guards, with Kyrie Irving heading to the East Coast while Isaiah Thomas moved to the shores of Lake Erie. On top of having their new running mates Irving and SG Gordon Hayward, Boston returns only four of its 10 most-used players from last season.

However, under coach Brad Stevens they are 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven road games against the Cavaliers.

The Cavaliers, who were just 3-7 ATS in their last 10 home games of last season, have eight new players. James has had little practice time with the Cavaliers’ three new starters, PG Derrick Rose, SG Dwyane Wade and PF Jae Crowder, but with James’ talent and court sense chemistry can come pretty quickly (Thomas is out with a hip injury).

The total has gone over in four of the Celtics’ last five road games against the Cavaliers.

Later on Tuesday night, the defending champion Golden State Warriors are 9.5-point favorites against the Houston Rockets with a 230.5-point total in a matchup between the two highest-scoring teams from last season.

Due to new PG Chris Paul’s various injuries (bruised left shoulder, bruised left knee), the Rockets have had scarcely little time to see how Paul and SG James Harden will work together on the floor. If Paul is good to go in this one, though, he will face the Warriors’ Stephen Curry at each end of the court for the entire game.

The Rockets are 1-11 SU and 4-7-1 ATS in their last 12 road games against the Warriors, but any team that shoots threes as frequently – and often efficiently – as Houston is always a threat.

Golden State, with its big four of Curry, PF Kevin Durant, SF Draymond Green and SG Klay Thompson, almost always lays big-time points at Oracle Arena. While the Warriors infamously laid an egg in their home opener last season, they are 19-1 SU and 14-5-1 ATS in their last 20 regular-season home games with a closing line between 8.5 and 10.5 points.

The Warriors, unlike the other three teams in action on Tuesday, had minimal offseason turnover with 12 players returning from their championship team.

The total has gone under in six of the Rockets’ last nine road games against the Warriors.