NBA Draft: Who Should You Bet on to Go First Overall?
This 2020 NBA Draft class isn't the normal top-heavy, star-studded class we've been used to, but it certainly has talent throughout the lottery.
The NBA's lottery itself is potentially being pushed back due to the ongoing coronavirus, and as a result, the draft will likely be bumped back, too. In that case, that gives you plenty of time to do your homework and get the best odds for certain players now, before we find out the order of the draft.
The teams with the best odds for the No. 1 overall selection this summer are the Golden State Warriors (14%), Cleveland Cavaliers (14%), Minnesota Timberwolves (14%), Atlanta Hawks (12.5%), and Detroit Pistons (10%). FanDuel Sportsbook has opened odds for who will be the No. 1 selection, with every player sporting juiced money at +100 or better.
Here's a look at my two favorites to hear their name called first as well as the three best-of-the-rest picks to go No. 1.
James Wiseman, Memphis (+180)
Coming out of high school, James Wiseman was ESPN's No. 1 recruit in the nation at 7-foot and 230-pounds coming out of Memphis. Wiseman elected to stay in his hometown to play for the Tigers. Wiseman was the most hyped Memphis recruit since Derrick Rose, but that didn't last very long.
Wiseman started three games for the Tigers, averaging 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in dominating fashion before the NCAA suspended him for 12 games. Wiseman appealed the ban and lost, and he ultimately chose to enter the NBA Draft instead of return to Memphis after the suspension.
Now, he's grown slightly to 7-foot-1 with a 7-foot-6 wingspan, and he's 240 pounds. He's a force around the rim and put that on display in his short time at Memphis. He recorded 73.1% of his field goals and 89.5% of his points at the rim, according to Math-Hoops. While playing only 69 career minutes of college basketball, he racked up 59 points, 32 rebounds and 9 blocks, and he connected on 20 of 26 from the field (76.9%).
Wiseman is so athletically gifted around the rim that he's essentially a point guard's best friend in the pick and roll. He has the capability to create those highlight plays on both ends -- through dunks on offense and with high-flying swats on D.
At +180 odds, Wiseman has the second-best odds to go No. 1. The only team with good chances for an early pick that may pass on Wiseman due to fit might be the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have Tristan Thompson, Andre Drummond and Kevin Love on their current roster.
LaMelo Ball, Australia (+300)
LaMelo Ball is the most interesting prospect of the three players with the best odds -- Ball, Wiseman and Anthony Edwards, who we'll get to shortly -- and he might have the highest ceiling of the group. With that said, he finds himself with the third-best odds. His brother, Lonzo Ball, was selected No. 2 overall by the Lakers in 2017, and I certainly believe LaMelo has a chance at going No. 1.
Ball averaged 17.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 7.0 assists per night over 12 games for Illawarra in the National Basketball League (NBL) in Australia. He won the 2020 NBL Rookie of the Year Award despite his team being 3-9 with him (2-14 without) and his season ending early due to a foot injury. Ball is an extraordinary talent who delivers an offensive skill-set that fits the mold of some of the best scorers in the game right now. His NBA-level range was shown off plenty this season, but it became an erratic part of his game because the losing became so excessive.
Ball owned a 105.0 offensive net rating in his 12-game NBL season and surprisingly posted a 111.8 defensive net rating. His Player Efficiency Rating (PER) was 16.19, and although that's not terrible, he would have benefited from those extra 16 games versus lower-level competition. Ball's shot selection clearly needs work as he recorded a true shooting percentage of 46.4%, which, for reference, would be below what Kevin Knox (47.0%) has posted this year.
Ball's best attribute is his passing as he recorded an impressive 36.9% assist percentage as a member of Illawarra. Almost every team in the lottery could use a 6-foot-7 point guard with the passing and scoring ability that Ball possesses. I would put my money on Ball to become the first non-NCAA player to go No. 1 since Andrea Bargnani (Italy) in 2006.
Best of the Rest
Anthony Edwards, Georgia (+100)
Edwards is the favorite to be the top selection. In a stellar 32-game season at Georgia. Edwards led the team in points (19.1) and steals (1.3) per game as a freshman, and he was second in rebounds (5.2) and assists (2.8). He played 33 of 40 minutes per game and posted a 52% true shooting percentage, hitting 69.4% at the rim and 29.4% from three, per hoop-Math. He attempted 6.4 three-pointers per game (205 total), and triples accounted for 48.5% of his shots. Edwards also recorded a 30.4% usage rate, which is just slightly under Ja Morant's 33.5% usage rate coming out of Murray State last year. Edwards is certainly a top-three prospect in this draft, but given Wiseman's athleticism and wingspan plus Ball's playmaking ability and scoring ceiling, I think Edwards has a better chance of being taken third than first, which is why I prefer better on the other two.
Onyeka Okongwu, USC (+2000)
Digging deeper into guys with longer odds, Okongwu was a former teammate of Ball's at Chino Hills in California before deciding to attend USC. The Trojans' one-year wonder was a beast of a big man, averaging 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks in 28 games as a freshman. If he was to jump Wiseman as the No. 1 center in this class, it would because Okongwu has more tape, better shot range, and is arguably a better rebounder. Okongwu recorded an 18.4% defensive rebounding rate at USC. I see a lot Bam Adebayo's game in Okongwu. He was efficient scoring around the rim (72.4%) and hit 41.5% of his jumpers from the mid-range, which could ultimately separate him from Wiseman.
Killian Hayes, France (+2000)
Hayes has climbed up draft boards the past year with his play in France and Germany. Hayes is a 6-foot-5 left-handed point guard with the ability to pick apart a defense in the pick-and-roll. He is a constant finisher at the rim and an aggressive perimeter defender who causes steals to become assists or transition buckets. There's a chance his stock rises some more throughout the predraft process. He played in the FIBA U-17 Tournament in 2018 and was named to the All-Tournament team after losing to the US and finishing the seven games with averages of 16.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game. He played 10 games for ratiopharm Ulm in EuroCup basketball, averaging 12.8 points, 6.2 assists, and 2.3 rebounds on 39% shooting from three and 90.9% shooting from the free-throw line. Among players listed at +2000, Hayes and Okongwu are my favorite long shot bets.