The 2021 NBA Draft is here, just like in the NFL draft, information is key. As we get closer, the information gets more solid, especially when it comes to the top picks. The NBA draft tends to get more volatile the deeper it goes, but there is still plenty of value to be found when paired with reports around the league. Let’s take a look at the noise surrounding the top prospects, players who are rising and find some best bets to play.
The top four picks seem to be set in stone. Almost every report has indicated Cade Cunningham is headed to Detroit at No. 1. ESPN reported Houston has not even been able to work out Evan Mobley or Jalen Suggs, so all signs point to the shooting guard Jalen Green being selected second by the Rockets (-400 at BetMGM). When odds first opened at DraftKings, Mobley, the USC big man, was listed as the odds-on favorite to be drafted second. However, Mobley is now most likely to be Cleveland’s selection at three, and the price of -225 still has some value.
Suggs is the -160 favorite to be selected fourth by Toronto. The fit is perfect for a team that is moving on from its franchise point guard, and he should flourish alongside Fred VanVleet in the backcourt. Given everything we know about this pick, an implied probability of 61.5 percent is low.
Florida State forward Scottie Barnes is the name that continues to come up as a guy whose stock has risen dramatically. The cheapest price on him going fifth is -195 at DraftKings (-225 at BetMGM), and there is little reporting out there to indicate Barnes is slipping past this spot.
However, the idea of the Magic and Barnes as a match has bothered me. Barnes is going to be a dynamic defender who can guard every position, but he is going to be a project when it comes to scoring. He shot just 27.5 percent from 3-point range for Florida State last season, and only 34.9 percent of his midrange attempts went down. Is he really a fit for a team that finished 29th in offensive efficiency and 27th in 3-point shooting? Plus, Jonathan Isaac, a poor shooter who can guard multiple positions, is going to be back from injury next season.
The poor fit has me looking for a way to play against Barnes going to Orlando. The best price on him to go Over 5.5 is only +275 (26.7 percent) right now, and that is not great considering the Under is -400 (80 percent). The best option is to wait until Thursday to see if the market continues to drive up the Under price. I’m looking to get about 7/2 on him to go Over his draft position.
The two other players climbing up boards and seeing their draft position props changing are Connecticut guard James Bouknight and Oregon guard Chris Duarte. Bouknight has seen his draft position prop drop from 10.5 to 7.5 with a peak price of -260 on the Under at some global shops. The thought process is that he will not make it past the Warriors at seven. The Thunder sit at six and both they and the Warriors need backcourt depth. Duarte seems to be the best fit for the Warriors when they come back with the 14th pick as he seemingly is ready to contribute immediately, something the Warriors are seeking with Klay Thompson back from injury. Duarte opened as high as 20.5 in the draft position market and has since dropped to 15.5 with a -135 price on the Under.
Best Bets (using most favorable odds in market): Jalen Suggs fourth overall (-160); Davion Mitchell Over 10.5 (-125); Usman Garuba Over 15.5 (-150); Neemias Queta Over 47.5 (-140).