The 2019 NBA draft is on Thursday, and there are plenty of opportunities on the board for bettors to cash in.
The 2019 NBA draft is near, which means it’s a time for optimism. But don’t worry, if your team doesn’t have a high pick this year, there’s still an opportunity to make Thursday night exciting thanks to NBA draft prop bets. New Jersey sportsbooks FanDuel and DraftKings have each released a plethora of props to ogle over.
Instead of relying just on mock drafts to determine which prop bets are the best values on the board (which is a mistake, bettors), I talked with SI draft expert and NBA insider Jake Fischer to get his thoughts on how the first round will unfold based on recent conversations he’s had around the league.
Cameron Reddish: Over 7.5 -103 (DraftKings)
Players drafted in the top 10 from Duke: Under 2.5 +500 (DraftKings)
As we near closer to the draft, the players expected to be taken with the first seven picks have seemingly crystalized: Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, RJ Barrett, Jarrett Culver, De’Andre Hunter, Darius Garland and Coby White.
Yet, whether it was due to the fact that he was a top-3 recruit coming out of high school, his Duke pedigree or that his name is known by the casual fan (or a combination of those things), DraftKings currently has Reddish priced as more likely to go seventh or higher. Fischer, though, doesn’t see it happening.
“Reddish is not going before eight,” Fischer said. “It’s a mental makeup thing. People are worried about how he floated in and out of games. The shot is gorgeous, but it’s pretty inconsistent at times. When you’re just a shooter technically [at this stage in his career], that’s a scary proposition for someone to be picked that high.
“Just know no one in the top seven is going to take Reddish from conversations I’ve had [around the league], there’s just not enough intrigue there.”
Fischer did mention that eight is the magic number for Reddish because that’s where the Hawks are currently picking, and that his skillset would be a nice fit in Atlanta’s system. But the Hawks are currently looking to trade up with their collection of picks (Nos. 8, 10 and 17), and it would be to take either Culver or Hunter.
If the Hawks decide to move up or end up passing on Reddish because of his uninspiring college shooting numbers (35.6% from the field, 33.3% from three, 77.2% FT), it’s certainly plausible that he could drop to outside the top 10. There’s a decent chance of that longshot play hitting compared to others in that price range.
Nassir Little: Over 10.5 -143 (DraftKings)
Bol Bol: Over 15.5 -167 (DraftKings)
Just like Reddish, Little was a highly touted prospect coming out of high school who fell way short of meeting the sky-high expectations set for him at a college basketball powerhouse.
Despite an underwhelming freshman campaign at North Carolina, however, DraftKings still has priced him to go off the board within the first 10 selections.
“I don’t think he’ll be a top-10 pick. With Little, the range where teams start feeling more confident with him is Charlotte at 12,” Fischer said. “People in Little’s camp are actively saying that he’s going top 10, but the perception of him in front office circles is that he’s not worth the risk that high because the percentage chance of him reaching that ceiling is pretty low. So I really don’t think he comes into play until Charlotte at 12.”
Bol Bol was also viewed as an electrifying talent coming out of high school, but the 7’2” giant had his Oregon freshman season cut short due to a foot injury suffered early in the year. While there are questions surrounding the big man’s health, that’s not his biggest detriment going into Thursday.
“He hosted a workout for a limited sample of invited teams last Wednesday in Thousand Oaks, California,” Fischer said. “It went fine, he can shoot the ball, he’s a good athlete. The medical went to all those teams, and there’s no reason to red flag him.
“But there’s a lot of intangibles questions with him that have been existent since his high school days. That’s going to hold him back from going any higher than that high-teen range. His range starts at Indiana at 18 I think.”
While betting both of these overs means taking on a good amount of juice, NBA teams simply aren’t as enamored with these two as their draft positioning odds would suggest.
Rui Hachimura: Under 11.5 +150 (DraftKings)
Player to be drafted first: Rui Hachimura -167 over Brandon Clarke (DraftKings)
The magic number for Hachimura obviously is 11—where the Minnesota Timberwolves are sitting. While the Timberwolves have also considered Clarke at this spot, they’ve had their eye on Hachimura for a while, as he perfectly fills a positional need.
“He’s been linked to Minnesota ever since the combine,” Fischer said. “It just comes up every day, in casual conversation with a scout, an agent, a coach. Right now, the worst-kept secret in the NBA is that the Wolves have likely promised Rui Hachimura at 11, that’s a thing that everyone discusses.”
I will gladly take the +150 on such a heavily rumored player-team marriage, and if Hachimura is locked in at No. 11, that means he’ll certainly be off the board before his former Gonzaga teammate.
Daniel Gafford: Over 25.5 -122 (DraftKings)
This is an interesting draft position line on the Arkansas product, who is competing with fellow big men Bruno Fernando, Mfiondu Kabengele and Nic Claxton to be taken starting in the twenties.
Unfortunately for Gafford, the NBA has obviously shifted to a perimeter game, which doesn’t bode well for the traditionally skilled center. And that likely means he’ll have to wait for Mark Tatum to call his name instead of Adam Silver.
“He’s not going in the first round,” Fischer said. “I’ve heard he has worked out really poorly for some teams. He’s not a modern-day big. In my opinion, he’s more of a Greg Monroe in this stage of his career than he is an agile pick-and-roll defender, pick-and-roll threat kind of player. He’s a good low-post threat, he is athletic, but he’s not going to fit the modern game very well having to defend in space. I think he starts getting considered at 33 or 34 to Philly as a backup big.”