Markelle Fultz considered lock atop NBA Draft, but intriguing odds abound

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The real challenge in wagering on the NBA draft lies beyond the first two selections.

Washington Huskies point guard Markelle Fultz is now a borderline comical -5000 to be taken first at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The trade that the point guard-hungry Philadelphia 76ers swung with the Boston Celtics on Monday to get the No. 1 pick virtually assured Fultz would be the pick.

There’s actually a lower price on the field (+700) than on either UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball (+1200) or Duke small forward Jayson Tatum (+5000).

Speaking of Ball, the line of him being drafted by his hometown Los Angeles Lakers is -260, while there’s a +200 payout if he’s selected by any other team. The Lakers have also signaled their intentions by announcing they’ll trade incumbent point guard D’Angelo Russell. However, some feel Kentucky PG De’Aaron Fox, due to his athleticism and speed, has a higher ceiling.

Speaking of the aptly named Fox, many of the intriguing NBA Draft betting props involve the over/under on what point of the draft certain budding stars will hear their name called at the Barclays Center on Thursday.

The total for Fox  is 4.5. Tatum also has a 4.5 total. The Boston Celtics, who pick third, are set at point guard, but the Phoenix Suns could be looking at one at fourth overall.

One should probably keep an eye on speculation about Frank Ntilikina, whose draft-slot total of 9.5 seems on the high side. The 18-year-old Frenchman is one of the youngest players in this draft class and has the skillset to also play either guard spot. The New York Knicks and Dallas Mavericks, who are in the eighth and ninth slots, are both keen on him, and there’s always the chance of one trading up to get him.

Ntilikina is also a -1400 favorite to be the first international player taken. The total on how many international players will go in the first round is 4.5.

College basketball fans can also carry over their rooting interests by betting on how many players will be taken in the first round. There is a 3.5 total for Duke players taken in the first round. The over pays a generous +145, which would require SG Frank Jackson sneaking into the first round to join Tatum, SG Luke Kennedy and C Harry Giles.

Conversely, the under on the 2.5 total of Oregon Ducks players selected – three players are second-round possibilities – is +220.

The early picks, of course, are mostly comprised of one-and-done talents. There is good value on picking who will be the first college senior taken. Colorado combo guard Derrick White is a slim +185 favorite, with Big 12 rival Wesley Iwundu of Kansas State listed at +210.

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.