NBA Draft 2020 Betting Predictions

NBA Draft ULB
NBA Draft 2020

The 2020 NBA Draft is upon us and for the first time in a long time, there is plenty of mystery around the first few picks in the annual process. There are plenty of rumors circulating about potential trades for the No. 1 and No. 2 picks, though no official deal has been made, and there’s a good chance none will materialize. Still, there is no consensus top pick and there’s no real telling which way the teams at the top of the draft will lean on Wednesday.

Eye on the Ball

The prohibitive favorite to be the No. 1 pick is LaMelo Ball, who spent last year playing professional basketball in Australia instead of college basketball. Ball is listed at -215 odds to be the No. 1 pick and checks all the boxes for the Minnesota Timberwolves at the top spot. The 19-year-old can be a perfect complement to Karl-Anthony Towns and DeAngelo Russell with his vision and athleticism. It would be a shock if Minnesota goes in a different direction here, but if the Timberwolves did draft someone else at No. 1, it would be Anthony Edwards, who holds +155 odds to go first overall.

It’s what happens after the first pick that I think will be the most exciting thing to watch in this draft. The Warriors could easily select Edwards if he doesn’t go No. 1 and add another talented shooter to their star-studded backcourt. Golden State might also draft James Wiseman, a traditional center who won’t stretch the floor but instead be an excellent rim protector and rebounder for the guard-oriented team. Based on the team dynamics, Edwards seems the safer bet at odds of +210 to go No. 2 overall because Wiseman feels like a strange fit for the Warriors’ style of play.

If Wiseman doesn’t head to Golden State – or a team that wants to trade into the No. 2 spot to draft Wiseman – he’ll head to Charlotte at No. 3. The Hornets need a center to anchor their team and there is no one better at that in the draft than Wiseman. He’s a better cultural fit in Charlotte and the Hornets can build around a strong center with the good shooters they’ve signed last offseason. And with odds of +230 to go third overall, the value is there on this wager.

Once we get to Chicago with the fourth overall pick, the draft opens up to a point where it is tough to project specific players. Instead, we’ll look at some odds on draft ranges where two specific prospects will end up. The first is Maccabi Tel Aviv wing Deni Avdija, who played a large role for the Israeli powerhouse at such a young age. He’ll have to physically mature to be a consistent NBA player, but he has the mental acuity to be a good pick. He’s listed with an over/under of being the pick number 4.5, and I think he’ll fall to Cleveland at No. 5, so I’ll bet the over at +100 odds.

The other player is USC center Onyeka Okongwu, who many consider the best center in this draft. The issue is that centers are now judged based on their ability to play on the perimeter, which is definitely not Okongwu’s strength. His over/under is at 6.5, but there is significant value in betting the over at +173 odds. Very few teams in the first six picks are looking for a big man, and I don’t think any team is ready to trade up to draft him, either. Detroit at No. 7 is a good fit for Okongwu as would the Knicks at No. 8 or the Wizards, who pick ninth.

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Josh Walfish is an award-winning journalist who has been covering college and professional sports in the United States. He holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University and his work has appeared in the Miami Herald, Chicago Sun-Times and Providence Journal. He most recently chronicled the UMass hockey teams rise to prominence over the last two years for the local newspaper

All Reviews by Josh Walfish

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