Those of you have been following me for any length of time know that I love drafts. Specifically, I love wagering on them. I even dove into the NHL Draft streets this past week.
I spent 30 minutes Friday morning reading mock drafts, and placed five bets — four over/unders on draft position, and one longhsot. The longshot missed, but I nailed all of the draft position wagers. This isn’t meant as a flex, but to point out that there is money to be made in draft props if you put in any modicum of time.
The NBA Draft is this week, and the betting markets have been excellent, with plenty of different props to get down on. I wanted to just run through my biggest positions, and what my process will be like this week.
I had a great NFL Draft this year, but one of my biggest regrets was not pressing edges hard enough. I was too obsessed with always getting the best price, when I should have been focusing more on the quality of information.
We aren’t betting a game with the draft. This is an information market, and the results are binary. As such, there are three spots I’ve wagered on the most for the NBA Draft.
1) Chris Duarte - 8.75u to win 15.17u
Duarte was someone I was initially betting as an over, with the belief that his advanced age would keep him from being a highly-drafted prospect.
It turns out the NBA doesn’t agree. Though he has taken a bit of a circuitous route to the NBA, all of the recent chatter has been that Duarte is highly regarded by NBA teams. He was invited to the ESPN Green Room for the NBA Draft — which is voted on by the teams themselves — and his draft range now appears to be anywhere from the Warriors at 14 to the Knicks at 19.
I arbed out of my previous Duarte overs, and proceeded to get heavy on both the under at 19.5 and a head-to-head with Tre Mann, who doesn’t seem likely to go early than 22 or so on Thursday. Duarte’s over/under as of this writing is as low as 16.5.
2) James Bouknight - 8.47u to win 14.66u
Bouknight has been a darling throughout the draft process, and the steam has only gotten hotter. Once though of as someone who could sneak into the top-10, he is now getting looks as high as six to the Oklahoma City Thunder. My bets on Bouknight include under 10.5, under 9.5, and head-to-head with Keon Johnson, who has seen his stock fall as the draft process has gone on.
Bouknight is a three-level scorer with good size that teams seem to love. His over/under currently sits at 7.5, and he appears unlikely to get past the Magic at eight.
3) Scottie Barnes - 5.5u to win 11.05u (if he goes fourth) or 10.35u (fifth)
Barnes has been someone I’ve been betting on since he first opened at +225 to be the fifth pick on DK Sportsbook. Those odds are currently -165 as the Magic appear keyed in on Barnes at that spot. There are also additional rumors that he could be the pick of the Raptors at four — or that a team like the Thunder may move up to jump Orlando.
I have action on Barnes to go fifth, fourth, and u5.5. I’ve bet this in increments along the way, even though I liked this bet a lot early. This form of dollar cost averaging is probably the best way to attack draft betting. Get in on the best number early, and then gradually add more action as the information becomes more stable. The signal now on Barnes is extremely strong.
Draft Week Plans
With the draft only a few days away, this is how I plan to approach this week:
Track the news
While most of my early work involves averaging out sharp mock drafts, this period is really more focused on the news. When reaching updated mocks, it is important to key in on anything that is truly concrete versus mere speculation, and to see how many different insiders are reporting the same things. This can help guide us extremely well leading up to the draft.
Monitor emerging markets
While sites like DraftKings have very robust markets posted right now, some books still do not have a lot of options for bettors. Moreover, the days leading up to a draft is where you’re more likely to see specials and exotics pop up — and these can often be mispriced. I will be refreshing my books as often as possible to make sure I have all of the latest stuff.
Be tight but aggressive
There will be tons of rumors that come across the news wire this week, and you can’t fire on all of them. More importantly, you shouldn’t. But when we get a strong signal towards a bet, this is the time to bet aggressively. Take this example from this past NFL Draft.
Turner was a projected Day 2 pick with an over/under in the 50’s. Sure enough, he went in the first round just hours later.
You can also increase your edge in draft markets significantly simply by being willing to lay juice on something that is fairly concrete. A lot of the “x overall pick” markets can look intimidating when they get to -200 or shorter, but they actually offer a lot of value on outcomes that truly have a 90%+ chance of happening (or, even better, it is reported with certainty).
Good luck, and happy draft week!