Sportsbooks Are Making NBA Draft Night About More Than Just Zion

Written By Juan Carlos Blanco on June 20, 2019 - Last Updated on September 2, 2022
nba draft betting

For decades, the NFL and NBA drafts have mainly been the domain of the true hardcore fan. Casuals have often derided those who devote actual time to watching an avalanche of names being called for hours at a time.

But as legalized sports betting progressively expands its reach across the country, there’s an emerging secondary segment of draft fandom, so to speak. It’s one comprised of those willing to put some money down on draft-based contingencies such as:

  • Who will be the top overall pick
  • What team will select a certain player
  • What position will be highest represented in terms of first-round picks
  • A certain player’s draft position

Draft goes way beyond Zion for bettors

Thursday night’s annual NBA player selection extravaganza has precious little suspense at the top. Man-child phenomenon Zion Williamson is the overwhelming favorite to be taken No. 1 overall by the New Orleans Pelicans.

In fact, the consensus on the former Duke Blue Devil being the first name called is such that both DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook confirmed to TheLines that the amount of bets and money coming in on any other player is negligible.

Current odds at both sportsbooks reflect as much. Williamson is -8000 to be taken No. 1 overall at FanDuel. He’s a whopping -10,000 at DraftKings. That means that if you placed a $100 bet on Williamson to go No. 1 overall, you’d win $1 if it happened.

The next closest options at both books are Ja Morant and RJ Barrett, who round out the presumptive top 3 in almost every mock draft.

However, a slam dunk, pun intended, at the top of the draft doesn’t necessarily equate to a dry market for would-be bettors by any stretch. New Jersey betting sites are amply accommodating those looking to get a little offseason roundball money in play Thursday night.

The following is a sampling of the different NBA Draft betting markets at some of the Garden State’s leading operators:

DraftKings Sportsbook

  • Player Draft Position Over/Under
  • Number of Freshman Drafted in Top 10
  • Number of International Players Drafted in Top 10
  • Player To Be Drafted First “Matchups”:
    • Rui Hachimura/Brandon Clarke
    • PJ Washington/ Tyler Herro
    • Keldon Johnson/Cameron Johnson
  • Odds on each of Picks 1-5 in First Round

FanDuel Sportsbook

  • Number of Gonzaga Players to be Drafted in Top 10 (over/under 0.5)
  • Number of UNC Players to be Drafted in Top 10 (over/under 1.5)
  • Number of Freshmen Drafted in Top 10 (over/under 5.5)
  • Player Draft Position Over/Under


  • Odds on each of Picks 1-5 in first round
  • Duke Players to be Drafted in Top 5 (over/under 2.5)
  • Duke Players to be Drafted in Top 10 (over/under 2.5)
  • ACC Players to be Drafted in Top 10 (over/under 4.5)
  • Player Draft Position Over/Under


  • Player Draft Position Over/Under
  • First and Second Overall Picks

Play Sugarhouse NJ

  • Player Draft Position Over/Under
  • Yes/No on Player To Be Drafted (Tacko Fall/Kyle Guy)
  • Odds on 3rd Overall Pick
  • Player To Be Drafted First “Matchups”:
    •   Rui Hachimura/Brandon Clarke
    •   PJ Washington/ Tyler Herro
    •   Keldon Johnson/Cameron Johnson

Get Up to $500 in Free Bets Today!

ALSO READ: As We Prepare For a Hectic NBA Offseason, Where Is The Current Betting Value?

NBA Draft props not universally available

The NBA Draft market also serves to offer a glimpse of how the difference in state-to-state betting regulations will manifest as sports betting grows. In this particular case, it’s noteworthy that while Sugarhouse is able to offer the markets just cited for Thursday, its Pennsylvania sportsbook is prohibited from doing so.

The discrepancy between the two states centers on what constitutes sports wagering as detailed in Act 42 of Pennsylvania’s 2017 gambling expansion law. Specifically, wagering is defined as bets on professional or collegiate athletic events, or the individual performances of athletes within those events.

The NBA Draft fails to meet any of those criteria. Therefore, it’s off limits for the time being to bettors in the Keystone State. While most states will be largely uniform in terms of what wagers they allow, non-sporting events, even when tangentially related to sports, are likely to be one of the more common exceptions in certain jurisdictions.

DraftKings’ Score More offers selected rookie season futures

The draft in any sport is an inherently speculative process. Ironically, that’s what can make it both highly enticing and a major tease.

In the NBA’s case, the first actual minute of basketball that counts for anything is still about four months away from the moment Thursday’s proceedings wrap up. Therefore, there will be no shortage of unbridled optimism about how each rookie will help their new team. But, everyone is essentially in “hurry up and wait” mode until the leaves begin turning.

As such, DK Sportsbook also has something for the bettor who’s already envisioning how certain rookies will perform once they actually hit the floor come October- a betting option they’re calling 2019-20: Score More.

The promotion consists of head-to-head wagers featuring a round robin of the aforementioned near-unanimous top trio of picks: Williamson, Morant and Barrett.

Score More offers bettors the chance to plunk some coin down on who’ll score more total points during their first pro season among the following matchups:

  • Zion Williamson (-167) vs. RJ Barrett (+140)
  • Zion Williamson (-265) vs. Ja Morant (+210)
  • RJ Barrett (-167) vs. Ja Morant (+140)

It will be interesting to see how odds fluctuate on each player as the rest of the offseason unfolds. Among several factors, free agency moves by the respective teams that draft each player will certainly fuel speculation about how much opportunity each will have within their rookie campaigns. Then, training camp reports and preseason performances that speak to how quickly each rookie appears to be acclimating should also move the needle in either direction.

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Juan Carlos Blanco

Juan Carlos Blanco has served as a freelance writer for a wide variety of online publications and websites, with an intensive focus on fantasy sports. Juan has provided analysis and comprehensive coverage of the MLB, NBA, NFL, CFL, AAF and AFL while also reporting on news and developments in the daily fantasy sports and online gaming industries.

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