Sheridan: LaMelo Ball Pulling Away As Favorite To Be Top Overall Pick In NBA Draft

Posted By Chris Sheridan on November 13, 2020
NBA Draft odds LaMelo Ball Bulls Pistons Knicks

Less than a week remains before the 2020 NBA Draft is held, and there is a consensus among draft folks that LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman are going to be the top three picks.

But in what order? That landscape has changed considerably over the past 10 days.

It is no secret that the Minnesota Timberwolves (No. 1 overall) and the Golden State Warriors (No. 2 overall) are entertaining trade offers, and with the recent news that the season will begin on Dec. 22, we are going to see a whirlwind of activity related to draft news/trade speculation.

This is making for interesting times at the top sportsbooks in the legalized US sports gambling market, as the sharps try to outthink the real sharps – the general managers and front office executives who know what possibilities are being tossed around.

Toward the end of last week, all of the major sportsbooks had Edwards, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Georgia, as the favorite to go No. 1. He was -220 at DraftKings Sportsbook and PointsBet, and William Hill had him -200. Ball was the second choice at DraftKings (+180), the second choice at FanDuel (+280) and the second choice at PointsBet (+185).

What a difference a week makes.

On Friday morning, Ball was the clear-cut favorite at DraftKings (-215), which represented an overnight adjustment making his odds even shorter. This all comes after Ball worked out for the Timberwolves, and speculation circulated that Minnesota will trade the No. 1 pick once trades are allowed. The NBA has not yet told GMs when that can begin.

“The money shifts, and the talk is out there,” said Johnny Avello, head of online sports trading at DraftKings, regarding next week’s draft. “That represents money making the line move.”

2020 NBA Draft first overall pick odds

NBA Draft No. 1 Pick

Game
11/18/2020
(Eastern Time)
(EST)
LaMelo Ball
Bet now
-215
Bet now
-210
Bet now
-175
Anthony Edwards
Bet now
+155
Bet now
+155
Bet now
+140
James Wiseman
Bet now
+545
Bet now
+550
Bet now
+600
Deni Avdija
Bet now
+20000
Bet now
+3300
Bet now
+2500
Obi Toppin
Bet now
+20000
Bet now
+6000
Bet now
+4000
Killian Hayes
Bet now
+30000
Bet now
+10000
Bet now
+4500
Onyeka Okongwu
Bet now
+30000
Bet now
+10000
Bet now
+20000
Cole Anthony
Bet now
+50000
Bet now
+10000
Bet now
+15000
RJ Hampton
Bet now
+50000
Bet now
+10000
Bet now
+5500
Tyrese Haliburton
Bet now
+50000
Bet now
+10000
Bet now
+15000
Isaac Okoro
Bet now
+50000
Bet now
+10000
Bet now
+8000

View all the odds at DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook and PointsBet.

LaMelo separating himself

At FanDuel Sportsbook, the odds on Ball to be the first player selected were -210 on Friday. BetMGM had him at -176, PointsBet had Ball at -175, and William Hill had him at -200.

“Ball is the player of choice for FanDuel customers with 38% of the bet count and he is our top liability, but it’s not a market for big wagers,” said FD spokesman Kevin Hennessy.  “The largest stake on Ball was when the market first went up. Two hundred dollars at +420. We do have one customer hoping to buck the trends of the big three in the draft (Ball, Edwards, Wiseman) with a $50 wager on Isaac Okoro at +10000.”

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony made Ball the presumptive No. 1 pick in his Mock Draft this week with the following comments:

“Ball conducted an individual workout with the Timberwolves on Wednesday, his first private workout with an NBA team, before also working out in front of head coaches and executives for the Warriors, Hornets and Pistons on Thursday. Ball is one of a group of three candidates, including Wiseman and Edwards, that the Timberwolves are expected to choose from on draft night.”

But Matt Babcock of BasketballNews.com sees things differently in his latest mock, with Edwards listed at No. 1 and Ball all the way down at No. 4, going to the Chicago Bulls.

So depending on whose mock you believe, that is how you might want to make your choice. Babcock, by the way, speaks to a ton of NBA executives and is a member of the famous Babcock family that has been working in the NBA for decades. Givony is a favorite of ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and is known to place international players higher in his mocks than they might truly deserve.

Babcock has Onyeka Okongwu of Southern Cal going No. 3 overall to the Hornets, which can be wagered on at DraftKings under their “Player Draft Position” prop.

Wiseman is the consensus No. 3 at all of the top books. BetMGM has dropped Wiseman from +900 to +600, and DraftKings has lowered him from +750 to +545 to be the No. 1 pick.

Edwards has conducted workouts with each of the teams picking in the top three and might still meet a second time with those franchises to solidify his candidacy and attempt to separate himself from the pack.

FanDuel puts Edwards’ draft position at 1.5, with Over/Unders surrounding that possibility. Edwards would have to be No. 1 overall for the Under to hit, and those odds are +155.

Meanwhile, this is what PointsBet’s Patrick Eichner had to say about Edwards:

“About a week ago, we had Anthony Edwards as the favorite at -200 odds, followed by LaMelo Ball at +185 odds. The bet count was fairly even between the two, with Edwards attracting 32% of the bet count and LaMelo very close behind at 31%. In the last week we have seen action on LaMelo significantly pick up. That, combined with a market consensus, forced us to flip the market and put LaMelo as the favorite. LaMelo is now accounting for 58.8% of the bet count, which is more than double Edwards.”

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November surprise

Among the draft specials DraftKings is offering is the number of players from Duke drafted in the first round (Over 2.5 is +550 after being +300 a week ago) and the number of players in the first round drafted out of the ACC (Over 5.5 is also +550). The Over/Under for freshmen drafted in the Top 10 is 4.5.

“We know there’s going to be surprises, and we have had this up for a while. So long, in fact, that we used to have Obi Toppin (now +20000 to go No. 1 at DK) as the favorite,” Avello said.

Over at PointsBet they have a nifty feature on which particular player any team will pick. For the Knicks, by way of example, Killian Hayes and Tyrese Haliburton are both +350 to be selected by New York.

But much of the focus remains on Ball and what the teams at the top of the draft will do with their picks.

“Wiseman went up as the favorite when this market was created back in November 2019,” FanDuel’s Kevin Hennessy said. “He began to drift in August. LaMelo Ball is our biggest liability in the NBA No. 1 overall pick market.”

And as of now, Ball looks like the No. 1 pick.

But today is Friday, and the draft is next Wednesday. And as anyone who follows the NBA knows, a whole heck of a lot can change in the space of five days.

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