While NBA Draft Lottery Is Still Up In The Air, Sportsbooks Are Offering Odds On No. 1 Pick

Posted By Chris Sheridan on April 30, 2020

Aside from wondering when games will resume, NBA chatter these days revolves around one thing: Draft speculation.

Normally, lottery night would be just a month away, and we’d know which teams aside from Golden State had the best chance of picking No. 1.

Instead, there are many prognostications surrounding who will be the overall No. 1 pick in one of the most mysterious draft classes in NBA history.

Lottery ambiguity

Eventually, there will be workouts. And there will be somebody that some lottery team falls in love with who will leapfrog a bunch of other players. We will just have to wait and see … for a painfully indefinite time … who that player or players will be.

Since there is no precedent for a missed and/or delayed lottery, when exactly the event takes place is one of the NBA’s many great unknowns.

But assuming a best-case scenario in which all 82 games are played (perhaps by using Las Vegas as a “Bubble City”), the lottery would proceed as usual, with all of the non-playoff teams having a chance to get one of the top three picks.

Even if the season is shortened to 72 games, the same formula would apply. All non-playoff teams go into the “ping-pong ball room,” and the top three picks are determined by there order of the ping-pong balls that pop up in a lottery-type machine.

Golden State is 15-50, and there are a bunch of teams that could drop into the bottom three. Cleveland and Minnesota have 19 wins; Atlanta and Detroit have 20; New York has 21 and Chicago 22.

The teams with the three worst records each have a 14 percent chance of getting one of the top 3 picks. The percentages then drop off, with the fourth-worst team having a 12.5 percent chance; the fifth-worst team at 10.5 percent; the sixth-worst at 9 percent; the seventh-, eighth-, and ninth-worst teams at 6 percent; the 10th-worst at 3 percent; the 11th-worst at 3 percent; and the remaining three teams at 1 percent each.

So … who will go No. 1?

“This is a super-weird and unique draft because there’s no clear No. 1 pick and because several of the contenders for No. 1 didn’t play a ‘full’ college basketball season, with James Wiseman leaving Memphis in December and LaMelo Ball playing in Australia, said Adam Zagoria of Zags Blog, NJ.com and Forbes.com.

“Most people say the smartest thing to do with the No. 1 pick is trade down, but there is nobody to trade up for. It’s a shitty draft,” said Jeff Goodman, basketball insider for Stadium.com. “I don’t have confidence that any of the protected top three players will be key pieces of any team.

“NBA teams are scared of all of them.”

NBA Draft betting odds

First Pick Overall

Anthony Edwards
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+100
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+100
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+120
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+100
James Wiseman
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+200
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+180
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+200
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+300
LaMelo Ball
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+300
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+300
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+325
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+300
Odi Toppin
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+400
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+550
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+700
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+600
Deni Avdija
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+500
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+550
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+400
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+525

2020 NBA draft player profiles

SG Anthony Edwards

Among the three favorites to go No. 1 overall, only Anthony Edwards of Georgia has a relatively large body of work to study. The 6-foot-5 guard played 32 games for the Bulldogs, averaging 19.1 points and shooting just 40.1 percent overall and below 30 percent from 3-point range.

He is one of the youngest players in the draft, and he is very much still learning the game. When focused and disciplined, he can be an elite player on both offense and defense. But he had a very inconsistent season for a guy projected to be No. 1 overall.

C James Wiseman

Wiseman played only three games for the Memphis Tigers before calling it quits for the season, which did not sit well with NBA personnel who saw it as a bailout on his teammates. But the kid is 7-foot-1 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan, and has great explosiveness and handles to go along with shooting range that extended out to NBA 3-point range last time anyone saw him play for an extended peiod of time, which was his senior year of high school. Big question is whether he will compete in pre-draft workouts – if there are any.

“My gut says Wiseman should be the No. 1,” says Zagoria. “He’s a 6-foot-11 left-hander with a 7-5 wingspan and could end up being a Karl-Anthony Towns or Myles Turner-type. If the Warriors get the No. 1 pick he could be the mobile big man who rebounds, protects the rim and spaces the floor with superstar shooters Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.”

“Obviously, there have been questions about his work ethic and consistency, but you can’t teach the height or wingspan he possess. If you’re looking for an otherworldly passer and play-maker and are willing to put up with the Lavar Ball Show, LaMelo could be your man. At 6-7, he could turn into a franchise NBA point guard for the next 10 years. Anthony Edwards of Georgia might be the safest pick if you’re looking for an explosive scoring guard to fit into today’s modern NBA,” Zagoria added.

PG LaMelo Ball

LaMelo Ball spent the past season playing for Illawarra in the Australian Basketball League, dazzling scouts with his ballhandling capabilities and court smarts. But the knock on LaVar’s younger brother is that he does not make other players around him better, which is what we have seen with his older brother Lonzo and the New Orleans Pelicans. All members of the Ball family carry some degree of a red flag because of their dad and his antics, but there is no mistaking talent – and Ball enters the draft as the player most qualified to make an immediate impact … if he becomes a listener and a learner.

“The best thing for Ball would be to land with Golden State, get tutored by Steph Curry and be kept in his place by Draymond Green,” Goodman said.

F/C Odi Toppin

If you are looking for a player with a body of work that stands out, look no further than Dayton forward/center Odi Toppin, the College Player of the Year. Jumped up draft boards with a standout Maui Invitational Tournament, and averaged 20.0 points and 7.5 rebounds for a 29-2 Dayton team that was ranked No. 3 when the season ended.. At 6-foot-9, he would be an undersized center – the position he played most in college. But he is 22, and certain teams value age and maturity higher than others.

F Deni Avdija

Likely to be the first foreign player drafted (Ball does not count), he comes out of Maccabi Tel Aviv having picked up his game in January and February before games came to a halt. Dreamers will see him as the next Luka Doncic, but Avdija was not winning Euroleague MVP honors at age 18 as Doncic was. Not a good free throw or 3-point shooter, and very right-hand dominant. He will be a project in the NBA, and it seems unfathomable that he could go No. 1 overall. But they said that about Anthony Bennett, too.

No other players have odds lower than +1400 … but that could change as the summer comes along.

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