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.