The NBA draft is less than 36 hours away and the information/rumors/intel/smokescreens/nonsense is flying fast and furious. Here’s a look at the latest intel through an actionable lens.
Jabari Smith is likely to go No. 1, but not at the prices he’s listed at. The implied odds for Smith (as high as 78% at some places) are not in line with the uncertainty surrounding Orlando’s decision. The Magic could take any one of the top three (Smith, Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren) and it would not be categorized as a “surprise.” But trying to find value is difficult.
The Magic are being impressively tight-lipped about this endeavor. Even ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski would only go so far as to say it was “likely” Smith goes No. 1. It’s not typical for there to still be this level of uncertainty. After sharp bettors hammered Banchero to go No. 1 on Monday, they came back and bet Smith at a lower price (-130 was the lowest I saw), effectively creating a hedge for “not Chet Homgren.”
One suggestion that multiple league sources not involved with talks have bandied about (ie this is speculative) is that the Magic and Thunder are both trying to bluff Houston into giving up additional assets to draft Banchero. The Rockets are known to be locked in/zeroed in/completely comfortable drafting Banchero. He’s their guy. So now it’s a question of whether Houston likes him so much to trade up to Philadelphia with Markelle Fultz and Jayson Tatum, or whether they’ll call the bluff and dare either team to take him.
There’s a lot of smoke around Holmgren to Oklahoma City if Smith goes to Orlando. I’m willing to be wrong about this, it isn’t sourced. But Holmgren genuinely does not feel like the kind of player OKC would pick with such an important selection.
If there was a bet available for “Houston takes Banchero, regardless of pick number” then I would bet that, even at a steep number. As it is, unless you got Smith at +1000 back in February (like a certain writer did) and then Banchero at +900 or better, there’s no value. Holmgren is the one bet with the best chance at a sizable plus number (+500 at Ceasar’s), but his slip threat from him is higher than the other two.
Keegan Murray No. 4 +130 (PointsBet)
You have to sort through a key question here:
Is consensus best player available more important, or telegraphed information?
The CBPA by every smart draft person I know is that Jaden Ivey is (at least) the 4th best prospect in this draft, with some considering him as high as No. 2. So, by that logic, Ivey should go 4th.
But this is the Kings, with an inherent bent toward chaos. And Ivey’s a point guard when they have not only De’Aaron Fox and a commitment to seeing what it looks like with Fox and Domantas Sabonis together, but also Davion Mitchell ready for a larger role. The Kings want to make the playoffs, now, immediately, next season. Does Ivey help them the most toward that goal? Setting aside whether you should be using the No. 4 pick in pursuit of that goal specifically, there are other players who may be better fits or more immediate contributors.
Enter Keegan Murray.
Murray’s fans have swelled in workout season, with the Spurs, Hawks and Pelicans among the team with interest in trading up to take him.
Then there’s the Knicks. Multiple league sources said the Kings rejected an offer from the Knicks for the No. 4 spot that was centered around former All-Star Julius Randle and other assets. If that offer wasn’t enough to get the 4th pick, what will? If the Knicks could get the pick somehow, the selection is likely Ivey. Not only does Ivey fit a need for the Knicks, but he’s repped by CAA. CAA has longstanding and current ties with the Knicks, including current Knicks President Leon Rose.
It’s no secret Ivey’s representatives have been trying to find a team to trade up and take Ivey given the Kings’ relative disinterest in Ivey.
So we get Murray at a plus number when multiple teams want him, the Kings reportedly want him if they keep the pick and the biggest threat to trade up and take Ivey has already had a significant offer rejected. That’s enough for there to be value there.
Ousmane Dieng Top 10 +115 / 8th Overall +550
I’m not going to sit here and try and pass off this being leveraged from intel. Ryan Rusillo on the Ringer said his understanding of him was that Dieng had a promise and he would n’t get to that promise on Sunday’s Bill Simmons Podcast.
From there, that’s where the intel helps. Dieng has picked up a lot of steam in the past few days. The Pelicans are actively looking to trade up and down, but if they stay at 8th, Dieng is an option. One source believes the Pelicans would rather trade back and take Dieng, but there’s buzz he might go in-between 8th and a trade-back spot, leading to the chance of him going 8th.
The safer bet is plus money Top 10 — 8th overall is if you want a longer shot.
AJ Griffin Under 11.5 +134 and 11th Pick, Johnny Davis Under 11.5 -130
The Knicks, as stated above, are “desperately” (per two sources) trying to move up to No. 4. But if they’re unable to, the two players linked consistently to New York over the past three weeks are Johnny Davis and AJ Griffin.
Davis has interest from the Spurs at 9 and Wizards at 10. His stop gap could very likely be the Knicks at 11. So … you take the Davis under to free roll the Griffin under and Griffin 11th. A likely scenario sees Davis go 9 or 10, Griffin goes 11 and you cash all three.
Oh, one more thing on Griffin: he’s represented by … CAA.
You can also just play it safe and bet Davis under 11.5 with the idea that the Knicks (or a trade partner) could take him at 11. I would not play the Davis under 10.5 that is out there at a shorter number, however.
Trevor Keels +350 to go 1st Round (DraftKings)
Eleven andou get past 20-ish, things get dicey. Teams may trade out, take project swings, select a guy they had as a longshot. It’s not a free roll, but it’s closer to a free roll than a sub-20 pick.
That said, there are three teams between 20 and 30 who have interest in Keels, with a potential stopping point of 32, two picks after this would cash. That’s enough to bet the +350.