The 2013 NBA Draft is packed with uncertainty, which is great for bettors looking for value in the numerous props involved with this year’s event.
Not even the No. 1 overall selection is etched in stone, meaning a few surprises here and there can really throw a wrench into teams’ draft strategies and have players going earlier or later than experts and oddsmakers expected.
Here’s how we see the first 10 picks of Thursday’s NBA Draft shaking down based on team needs, player profiles and the endless stream of mock drafts available online:
No. 1 Cleveland Cavaliers – Nerlens Noel (Kentucky)
Whispers of Greg Oden surround Noel, who blew out his knee this past season, which have the Cavs on the fence between the UK product and Maryland’s Alex Len. If you don’t think Cleveland rolls the dice, take a combo of Len at No. 1 (+200) and Noel’s draft position at No. 2 (+350).
No. 2 Orlando Magic – Ben McLemore (Kansas)
Orlando needs some scoring and McLemore may be one of the purest shooters in the draft. He averaged nearly 16 points at KU and is listed at +155 to go second overall. His biggest competition for the No. 2 spot is Indiana guard Victor Oladipo, who is priced at +125 to go to the Magic.
No. 3 Washington Wizards – Otto Porter (Georgetown)
This pick just fits, with Washington grabbing the do-it-all forward from Georgetown. Porter was the Hoyas offense at times and is a gritty, hardworking complement to the flashy backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal. He’s listed at EVEN money to go No. 3 to the Wiz.
No. 4 Charlotte Bobcats - Victor Oladipo (Indiana)
Oladipo gives Charlotte the most at his position, working his tail off on both ends of the floor. He can score and dazzle to put butts in the seats but also locks down perimeter threats, which wins close ball games. He’s presenting good value to go No. 4 at +300 or even beyond at +550 if the Bobcats go after Len or another big.
No. 5 Phoenix Suns – Trey Burke (Michigan)
Phoenix’s hunt for Steve Nash’s replacement takes only a year. Burke is a winner and a guy who isn’t afraid to make the big play. Many mocks have him slipping down the board but we’re talking about the National Player of the Year and an NCAA tournament runner-up. Books have him at -175 to go No. 5 or higher.
No. 6 New Orleans Pelicans – Alex Len (Maryland)
We’re not the only ones with Len sliding down this far and oddsmakers either have him going No. 1 (+200) or falling to No. 4 or farther (+240). He’s also a health risk, coming off surgery for a stress fracture in his foot. We could see the Pelicans grabbing the 7-footer and shopping him for an established point guard and some backcourt help.
No. 7 Sacramento Kings - C.J. McCollum (Lehigh)
McCollum is just another of the mid-major gems to highlight the draft in recent years, after not getting much attention in the Patriot League. He quietly scored just under 24 points per game before breaking his foot last season. Rumors suggest Sacramento is looking to retool its backcourt with draft day deals, so he could switch hats by the end of the night.
No. 8 Detroit Pistons – Anthony Bennett (UNLV)
Plenty of mock drafts have Bennett heading to Motown, including ESPN’s Chad Ford. Detroit needs a versatile small forward and the UNLV product has the skill set to score on the perimeter or on the blocks. However, it wouldn’t be a shocker to see Bennett go earlier, perhaps even to Washington at No. 3. He’s priced at EVEN money to go between No. 1-5 and -133 to be selected outside of the Top 5.
No. 9 Minnesota Timberwolves – Cody Zeller (Indiana)
Zeller’s physical presence could have him off the board by the time the T-Wolves are on the clock. Minnesota brought in the IU big man for a solo workout this spring and with Kevin Love’s future with the club a little wobbly, the Timberwolves may want an insurance policy under the basket.
No. 10 Portland Trail Blazers – Steven Adams (Pittsburgh)
Adams is among the many big men tempting teams in this year’s draft. But unlike some others, the Pitt product is one of only 13 players invited to sit in the green room Thursday night. He’s projected to go at No. 12 to OKC (via Toronto) by ESPN but Portland needs some size and grit in the paint, and will likely pass on Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk – which seems like the logical fit demographically - for Adams.
Odds courtesy of SportsInteraction.com.