2021 NBA Draft Prop Bets Card: Intel-based Picks, Including James Bouknight, Davion Mitchell, More
Porter Binks/Getty Images. Pictured: James Bouknight.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect reports of the Detroit Piston selecting Cade Cunningham first overall.
The NBA Draft is less than 36 hours away. Let’s bet some props.
Before we get started, a few things on this process.
This is messy. It’s a messy, ugly process. Not only do NBA teams not have a single guy they target, but they don’t want that information out there. Teams not knowing who they want helps with their ability to leverage not only trade offers but a commodity just as important: information.
I try and synthesize positions based on three elements.
- Analytics assessments from league personnel
- Scouting assessments from people who work with teams but don’t necessarily work for teams
- League intel in what I’ve come to call the information sewer
You’re trying to find information that matches all three targets. Here are the bets I like the most based off that framework headed into Thursday:
Jaden Springer under 22.5
Springer is a favorite of draftniks and draft consultants, and he grades out well in analytics models.
He’s gone from being juiced over 22.5 to juiced under. The Hawks are reportedly in play at 20, but some have thought he’s off the board even before then. One interesting concept in play: Springer grades out similar to Jared Butler, only with more playmaking, while Butler’s thought to be a better shooter.
If Butler drops for some reason, or if a team reaches for him, the Knicks might be in line for Springer. New York has looked to trade up but hasn’t gotten anyone to bite.
Moses Moody under 11.5
I loved this one a month ago, grabbed it then and have bet it since. For him to go top 10 is +125. It was +135 just a few days ago.
The risk is that he’s not considered star potential and typically, the top 10 picks are guys who executives think could be stars. Moody is just solid. He is a good defender, has good size, has no medical red flags, interviews well, shoots the ball. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go seventh, eighth, or 10th.
You can get 11.5 with an extra pick if you want to play it safe. If Josh Giddey and Franz Wagner and James Bouknight and Jonathan Kuminga go in the top 10, then we’re down to just one spot for the top 10. But if you want to fade any of those players, Moody is the guy who jumps up.
I’m trying to resist the star concerns and focus on the fact that Moody is, by most measures, one of the better players in the top 15 of the draft and should go closer to sixth than 15th, which puts him square under with a slight variance to the under.
Keon Johnson over 12.5
Wild range for Johnson, but almost no one has mentioned him as a solid lottery pick. Part of the reason for the over is the crunch for the other guys. If Moses Moody doesn’t go top 10, he’s certainly going top 13. Same for Franz Wagner, Jonathan Kuminga, James Bouknight, and Josh Giddy. If we lock in the top five and add those, we’re at 10. Corey Kispert, Kai Jones, Davion Mitchell, and Alperen Sengun all have teams that are interested between 9 and 13.
It’s possible a team reaches for Johnson, but he’s not talked about in such terms as the other guys. He’s solid, and if you want solid, you’re likely taking Moody.
Davion Mitchell over 12.5
I’m surprised this number is still hanging this low. Indiana’s a possibility at 13 if they don’t move out. The Warriors are absolutely in play at 14.
But before that?
Mitchell’s 22 years old. Teams don’t like taking players older than 20, you lose two years of development time which cuts two years off a possible career. You’re trading them at an older age if you trade them, you’re committing money older, etc.
Multiple draft experts I spoke with both in scouting and analytics have Mitchell closer to 20 than 10.
Make sure you shop around. As of this writing, there are 12.5’s juiced at -150 (BetMGM) and 13.5 priced the same.
Jalen Johnson over 14.5
I’m trying to make amends here. I reported last week that Jalen Johnson was thought of as a lottery talent. The board is no longer shaping up that way. The Spurs at 12 are a team that might take Johnson, so are the Pacers at 13 (though Indiana is as active or moreso than any team at trying to move their pick).
I think the variance, though, suggests that Johnson slides. There hasn’t been any word of anyone who was blown away by Johnson’s workouts or interviews.
I would recommend treading lightly in terms of unit play here, but I do think the value leans over for him at this point.
Ayo Dosunmu under 26.5
Dosunmu is 21, so he falls in that older player category. However, with any picks after the top 10 I’m usually looking for a little bit of breathing room. I’ve heard Dosunmu linked in the late teens with some thought he doesn’t go past 22 to the Lakers (though the Lakers have two other players just as high on their board). That still gives four spots of wiggle room.
Dosunmu gets sterling remarks for character and interviews; he’s thought to be a player you can trust, which is big in this range.
Top 4 picks: 1. Cade Cunningham, 2. Jalen Green, 3. Evan Mobley, 4. Scottie Barnes (+375), AND 1. Cade Cunningham, 2. Evan Mobley, 3. Jalen Green, 4. Scottie Barnes (+1400)
With Cade Cunningham going No. 1 to Detroit, Jalen Green is the most likely pick at 2, but Evan Mobley is in play and is the player many draft experts feel is even the “best” player in the draft. If Green goes 2, Mobley goes 3 to Cleveland, if Mobley goes second, the Cavaliers may trade out and Green would go third.
Toronto is higher on Barnes than Suggs. That’s been floating in the ether for a few weeks. The Raptors are considering a trade-out, which would put Suggs at 4.
However … trades are difficult to make happen. A good starting place is to assume trades won’t happen until they happen.
If the Raptors don’t trade out, Barnes is likely the pick at 4.
You hedge your bets with plus money on both 2. Green, 3. Mobley and 2.Mobley and 3. Green. You assume the Raptors don’t find a trade and they take Barnes.
WATCH THE PRICE:
Josh Giddey props
The value evaporated on these props overnight. He is the fastest rising name this week, and like with Patrick Williams last year, usually the week of, there’s fire with the smoke.
The problem is that top 10 for Giddey is now -205, and 10.5 unders are as high as -270 at some places.
There’s no value now. The problem, of course, is that any lower and the over has value, so it won’t drop. The Grizzlies are commonly linked with Giddey, but the Warriors with pick No. 7 are thought to be in play as well. However, Golden State’s interest in Giddey coincided with several teams looking to move into space to add Giddey, including the Grizzlies.
It’s no surprise, then, that word surfaced Wednesday that the Grizzlies could be looking to parlay the 10th pick they got from New Orleans along with other assets to the Warriors at 7.
Except, of course, that the Warriors have also talked to Toronto about moving up.
What I’m getting at here is that a whole host of teams may reach for Giddey higher than expected. Watch the market on Giddey. If it moves multiple spots down, play the over, if the juice goes down on top-10 odds, play the under.
Look, the market says you shouldn’t touch this one. His number has dropped to 7.5, heavily juiced to the under. It’s 6.5 at some spots. His top-10 props are insane, including -1050 at FanDuel.
There’s a presumption that OKC takes him at 6. Bouknight said in an interview he had dinner with Sam Presti and it went great. So everyone kind of believes Bouknight goes sixth.
I just don’t get it.
For starters, Bouknight turns 21 before the season begins. A 21-year-old rookie for a team that isn’t planning on being in contention for several more seasons? Next, Bouknight shot 29.3% from 3 this season. A scoring guard who shot 29.3% to analytics-minded OKC?
Scouts love Bouknight. He had a killer workout at the combine, and there’s a belief that quite simply, he’s a better shooter than his numbers suggest.
I think that’s definitely possible. Oftentimes, college shooting numbers simply don’t translate to how good of shooters they will be in the NBA. Bouknight could be a sensational NBA player. (Every player in this draft could be, that’s how it works.)
However, someone with that profile being openly and blatantly connected to one of the most secretive organizations in the league? OKC is an Iron Curtain.
Is there any variance? Is there a chance Bouknight goes top five? Not really, there’s no reason to think Orlando would take him before Barnes or Suggs. So if the top five is set, and it’s just down to OKC on a 6.5 prop?
Even 7 seems dicey. Are the Warriors, who are shopping for immediate upgrades, going to take Bouknight instead of dealing him? If no deal comes available would they take him before a high-upside project in Kuminga?
I’ve bet the over 7.5 here at plus money. There’s so much smoke about him going under 7.5 that I can’t recommend it, but I did feel the need to bring him up and say I’m dubious about how the market has reacted over the past week.