2014 NBA Draft: An Oddsmakers Perspective

2014 NBA Draft: An Oddsmakers Perspective

The 2014 NBA Draft is set to take place on Thursday, June 26th at 7:00 PM ET at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. For the third time in four seasons, the Cleveland Cavaliers own the first overall pick and for the first time in many years there remain many questions about who will be selected with the top pick.

For several weeks, NBA Draft experts like ESPN’s Chad Ford had projected that 7-foot center Joel Embiid — who averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game in his lone season at Kansas — would be a perfect fit for the Cavs with the number one pick. However, last Thursday news broke about a significant injury to highly touted big man:

News of this injury sent Embiid’s odds of being selected with the number one pick from -400 to +500 at Sportsbook.com. While this was awful news for Embiid, it was excellent news for his teammate Andrew Wiggins who emerged as a -400 favorite to be selected with the #1 pick. Similarly, Duke forward Jabari Parker jumped from +500 to +200 to be selected with the top pick.

However just days after Wiggins emerged as the likely number one pick, rumors of the Cavs interest in Jabari Parker rapidly escalated. In fact, Parker moved from +200 to the new co-favorite (-120) to be selected first overall at Sportsbook.com. Then on Tuesday, Bovada posted a number of NBA Draft props and actually listed Jabari Parker (-150) as the favorite to be taken ahead of Wiggins (+100).

Throughout the day on Tuesday Wiggins and Parker continually flopped back and forth as the favorite to be selected first overall, and as of Wednesday morning Wiggins was listed as the front runner at -165. It would appear that this back and forth action is largely due to the indecision within the Cavs organization.

Dan Gilbert addressed these rumors head-on, claiming that the ownership and the front office were in agreement on the first overall pick, which caused Wiggins to move to -350 to become the first overall pick this evening.

Both Sportsbook.com and Bovada have posted a number of prop bets for the 2014 NBA Draft, and using these odds we were able to create our own mock draft. Among these prop bets were over/unders on draft position, and a number of head to head “which player will get drafted first” props.

The following table represents our own top-10 projections compared with some of the most prominent NBA Draft experts. We will continually update this as odds fluctuate and more books begin posting their own props.

TeamOddsmakers (6/26)Chad Ford (6/26)Jeff Goodman (6/26)NBADraft.net (6/26)Draft Express (6/26)
1. Cleveland CavaliersAndrew WigginsAndrew WigginsJabari ParkerAndrew WigginsAndrew Wiggins
2. Milwaukee BucksJabari ParkerJabari ParkerAndrew WigginsJabari ParkerJabari Parker
3. Philadelphia 76ersDante ExumJoel EmbiidJulius RandleJoel EmbiidJoel Embiid
4. Orlando MagicNoah VonlehDante ExumDante ExumDante ExumDante Exum
5. Utah JazzJoel EmbiidAaron GordonJoel EmbiidNoah VonlehNoah Vonleh
6. Boston CelticsAaron GordonJulius RandleMarcus SmartMarcus SmartMarcus Smart
7. Los Angeles LakersJulius RandleMarcus SmartAaron GordonJulius RandleJulius Randle
8. Sacramento KingsMarcus SmartElfrid PaytonDoug McDermottElfrid PaytonElfrid Payton
9. Charlotte HornetsDoug McDermottDoug McDermottNoah VonlehDoug McDermottDoug McDermott
10. Philadelphia 76ersNik StauskasNoah VonlehNik StauskasAaron GordonAaron Gordon

On Tuesday morning Parker was listed at -150 to be selected first overall and Andrew Wiggins close on his heels at even money, however it would appear that a consensus has been reached as Wiggins is now a -350 favorite to be selected first. Parker is clearly the more polished of the two players, but Wiggins elite athleticism would seem to give him the higher ceiling.

Although Sportsbook.com did not initially post any prop bets for the third overall pick, we originally surmised that the Australian-born Dante Exum would be Philadelphia 76ers pick despite the presence of another 6’6″ point guard in reigning rookie of the year Michael Carter-Williams. That hypothesis was confirmed when Bovada posted the over/under for Exum at 3.5 with -200 juice on the under. It’s also interesting that there have been many trade rumors surrounding MCW as his trade value may never be higher.

It’s also interesting to note that last night, the Cavs actually invited Dante Exum for a last minute work-out. It would be a shock to see Exum drafted with the top pick, so this move could indicate that the Cavs have interest in trading down in the draft.

As for Embiid, many readers have asked how much his stock has slipped due to his injury. On Saturday morning (6/21) when Sportsbook.com first posted their draft props, Embiid’s over/under was listed as 6.5 with heavy juice on the under, although that quickly moved to 5.5. With that in mind, we were comfortable giving Embiid to the Orlando Magic with the fourth pick.

That opinion was further cemented when Bovada posted the over/under for Embiid’s draft position at 5, although there was heavy juice (-170) on the under. In fact, on Wednesday morning Bovada posted the first prop bet regarding Indiana forward Noah Vonleh, listing the rangy big man’s over/under at 5 with -170 juice on the under — the exact same odds as Joel Embiid.

Without having access to medical records, it’s tough to know exactly how far Embiid will fall, but BetOnline actually believes that Vonleh (-200) is more likely to be a top 5 pick than Embiid (-150). For that reason, we have updated our mock draft with Vonleh going #4 to Orlando and Embiid going #5 to Utah.

Last season, Yahoo! Sports NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski was able to single-handedly move the market on NBA Draft props with his tweets, and just before tonight’s draft he tweeted the following:

It’s no surprise to see Aaron Gordon ranked ahead of Julius Randle, however, most draft props had Noah Vonleh being selected before Gordon.

When we originally posted this article, we slotted Aaron Gordon to the Celtics with the sixth overall pick. Much of this was based on a prop that listed Gordon as a-140 favorite to be selected ahead of fellow freshman forward Julius Randle along with rumors that GM Danny Ainge was enamored with the athletic big man from Arizona. We adjusted this when Bovada posted their draft odds and listed Marcus Smart’s over/under at 5.5 with -140 juice on the over.

However, as the draft draws closer and closer, Smart’s draft stock seems to be slipping. The 6’3″ combo guard now has an over/under of 7 with -140 juice on the over. Meanwhile, Gordon has grown to a -200 favorite to be selected ahead of Julius Randle. For that reason, we’re going to ignore the recent rumors that the C’s are enamored with Smart and Randle, and slot Gordon to the Celtics with the 6th pick.

Considering that Steve Nash is 40 years old and Kobe Bryant is 35, it’s not exactly a bold statement to say that the Lakers could use an injection of youth into their backcourt. While they would likely consider Marcus Smart with this pick, Julius Randle seems to have a slim edge. Both Randle and Smart have an over/under of 7 at Bovada, but the juice on the under (-120 vs. +100, respectively) gives the Kentucky forward the slight advantage.

With the eighth pick, Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart would appear to be the optimal pick for the Kings. He’s a candidate for the seventh pick, but assuming the Lakers pass, Smart would represent the perfect fit for Sacramento. The team has already explored a trade with Detroit to land them Josh Smith, which would certainly cement their front line of Rudy Gay, Smith and DeMarcus Cousins. But with Isaiah Thomas set to become a restricted free agent, Smart could bring the type of guard play and, quite frankly, leadership that this team desperately needs.

The Charlotte Hornets (formerly the Bobcats) pick ninth and only own this pick because of a previous trade with the Detroit Pistons. Last season Charlotte made the playoffs for the first time since the 2009-10 season and just the second time since 2002. Now that they’ve finally tasted success, most analysts expect the Hornets to either trade their draft pick for an established veteran, or draft a more polished player. Considering that 4-year player and 2013-14 NCAA Player of the Year Doug McDermott is still on the board and that his over/under for draft position is 9.5 at both Sportsbook.com and Bovada, this could be another ideal pairing.

The tenth pick belongs to the Philadelphia 76ers following last season’s draft day trade which sent point guard Jrue Holiday to the New Orleans Pelicans. The Sixers are said to be enamored with Andrew Wiggins, but barring a trade is seems extremely unlikely that he will fall to them at number three. If Philadelphia ends up keeping this pick, we expect them to select either Michigan State G Gary Harris or Big 10 rival Nik Stauskas.

In our first mock draft, we listed Harris as the pick because he was listed as a -220 favorite to be selected ahead of Stauskas. That all changed when Bovada posted the over/under for Stauskas’ draft position at 10.5 and Sportsbook.com adjusted their odds to make Stauskas a -210 favorite to be drafted first. Both players represent the type of NBA ready player the 76ers would need after drafting a major question mark like Dante Exum, but Stauskas is the early front runner.

Other prop bets include:

Who will be drafted first? Russ Smith (-260) or DeAndre Kane (+180)
Where will Tyler Ennis be drafted? Over/Under 19.5
Where will Shabazz Napier be drafted? Over/Under 23.5 (taken down on 6/25)
How many international players will be drafted in the first round? Over/Under 7.5 (originally 8.5)

Do you agree with our picks? Do you think Embiid will be a top-5 pick? Please leave your thoughts and comments in the section below.

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David Solar

David was the Content Manager at Sports Insights. He has since moved on to greener pastures.

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