The NBA Draft is mostly about players living out their dreams and teams improving their rosters. We say "mostly" because it also represents one of the best opportunities for NBA betting during the offseason, now that the NBA Finals are over. There’s not a whole lot that you can bet on during this stretch, so you’ll want to take advantage of these player props/specials while you can.
Whether it’s an Over/Under on a player’s draft position, a head-to-head matchup between two players, or an exact draft spot, you should be able to find something that offers you great value.
After COVID-19 forced last year's NBA Draft to be held virtually, the 2021 NBA Draft will take place at the Barclay Centers in Brooklyn, New York at 8:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 29. Players, coaches, and fans alike will surely enjoy a return to normalcy — or at least something close to it.
With that said, here’s a 2021 NBA Mock Draft that provides a betting angle for every pick in the first round:
2021 NBA Draft betting predictions
1. Detroit Pistons – G Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State
Cunningham is one of the best prospects to enter the draft in the last decade. While he’s not quite Luka Doncic, he’ll give Detroit a similar plus-sized initiator with star potential.
The best odds you’ll find on Cunningham to go first are -5000, so you need to get creative to find decent value.
Pick: First Three Exact Order – Cunningham/Green/Mobley (-120 at PointsBet)
2. Houston Rockets – G Jalen Green, G League Ignite
Green skipped college and averaged 17.9 points per game against professionals in the G League. He’s drawn comparisons to Zach LaVine, as he’s a remarkable athlete with advanced scoring chops.
The Rockets are supposedly leaning heavily towards going with Green, which is why he’s as high as a -200 favorite to land in Houston on some books.
Pick: Second Overall Pick – Jalen Green (-165 at BetMGM)
3. Cleveland Cavaliers – C Evan Mobley, USC
Mobley is an elite defensive prospect, capable of protecting the rim and guarding on the perimeter. He also has a ton of promise on the offensive end, making him the best available here.
All indications are that the Cavaliers would be thrilled if the big man dropped, even with Jarrett Allen in the mix.
Pick: Third Overall Pick – Evan Mobley (-140 at William Hill)
4. Toronto Raptors – G Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga
Suggs is actually very similar to Kyle Lowry, who the Raptors might lose in the offseason. He’s a dog on both ends of the floor and would be a good fit next to Fred VanVleet.
There are some rumors about the Raptors being interested in Scottie Barnes, but they’d be foolish not to take a guy like Suggs. These odds offer nice value, considering the first four picks seem somewhat inevitable.
Pick: Exact Order – Cunningham/Green/Mobley/Suggs (+154 at FanDuel)
5. Orlando Magic – F Scottie Barnes, Florida State
Speaking of Barnes, he is a lengthy forward that can defend all five positions, and he can be a stud if he develops a reliable jumper. He’s exactly the type of player the Magic normally covet.
Barnes to go fifth overall at +105 (at BetMGM) is a decent bet, but this is the safer play with the Raptors at least somewhat interested in the forward.
Pick: Draft Position - Scottie Barnes Under 5.5 (-215 at FanDuel)
6. Oklahoma City Thunder – G James Bouknight, UConn
The Thunder already have a lot of projects on the wing and they’ll now look to add some firepower in the backcourt. Bouknight is a three-level scorer with the chance to be special.
You likely won’t be able to find odds on Bouknight to go to the Thunder, but this is a great play considering the Warriors (picking seventh) can also use a scorer with his ability.
Pick: Draft Position – James Bouknight Under 8.5 (-115 at William Hill)
7. Golden State Warriors – F Jonathan Kuminga, G League Ignite
Kuminga has a great blend of athleticism and skill, but he is definitely a work in progress. Still, the 18-year-old has as much upside as anybody in this draft, making him a no-brainer if he falls to the Warriors.
Kuminga has been considered a Top-5 prospect in this draft for a while, but it now looks likely he’ll slide a bit. He won’t drop further than eighth, but it’s unlikely he goes in the Top 6.
Pick: Draft Position – Jonathan Kuminga Over 6.5 (-110 at FanDuel)
8. Orlando Magic – F/C Alperen Sengun, Besiktas
Sengun was the Turkish League MVP at a very young age, and he’s as advanced a post player as you’ll find in any draft. His skill set isn’t exactly a perfect fit for the modern NBA, but he’s so good offensively that it shouldn’t matter.
This seems like a good landing spot for Sengun, but these odds are great either way. It wouldn’t be shocking at all if somebody traded up for a player of his caliber.
Pick: Player to be drafted in Top 10 picks – Alperen Sengun (+160 at DraftKings)
9. Sacramento Kings – F Franz Wagner, Michigan
Wagner is an unbelievable defender and has great size on the wing. He’s also an improving shooter and he doesn’t need the ball to be effective — that’s a good thing for a team with De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton.
Wagner to the Kings seems like one of the likeliest outcomes in the draft. He’s an analytics darling and Sacramento weighs that heavily.
Pick: Draft Position – Franz Wagner Under 9.5 (+120 at BetMGM)
10. New Orleans Pelicans – G Davion Mitchell, Baylor
Mitchell turned himself into a lottery pick by improving tremendously as a three-point shooter. He’s a very good on-ball defender and seems ready to contribute right away.
Mitchell is viewed as an NBA-ready prospect, and the Pelicans need to put winning players around Zion Williamson now. Also, the Warriors are in the market for instant contributors, making Mitchell more likely to be picked earlier than Johnson, who is a little raw.
Pick: First Player Drafted – Davion Mitchell over Keon Johnson (-150 at BetMGM)
11. Charlotte Hornets – F/C Kai Jones, Texas
Jones is a few years away from reaching his potential, but he’s a big man with excellent mobility and some legitimate guard skills. There’s a real chance he ends up being one of the best players in this draft.
The Hornets need to eventually pair LaMelo Ball with a talented big man, so look for them to take a chance on Jones’s tools. If they don’t, there’s a good chance the Spurs would scoop him up at 12.
Pick: Draft Position – Kai Jones Under 13.5 (-102 at FanDuel)
12. San Antonio Spurs – G/F Josh Giddey, Adelaide
Giddey is one of the most skilled passers in this draft and he is massive (6-foot-8) for a lead guard. The 18-year-old is a jumper away from being special, and the Spurs have the best shooting coach in the world in Chip Engelland.
Giddey has a ton of potential but he’s a better fit once the Spurs are on the clock at 12, as a few teams in this range have shown they’re willing to draft international players.
Pick: Draft Position – Josh Giddey Over 11.5 (-145 at DraftKings)
13. Indiana Pacers – G/F Moses Moody, Arkansas
Moody is a prototype 3-and-D wing and should be a plug-and-play rotation player from Day 1. He also has a little upside to him, as he isn’t hopeless as an isolation player.
While Moody is a safe pick with a little untapped potential, this feels like more of his draft range. The teams picking before this are going to be swinging for stars.
Pick: Draft Position – Moses Moody Over 11.5 (+110 at DraftKings)
14. Golden State Warriors – F Corey Kispert, Gonzaga
Kispert is arguably the best shooter in the entire draft, as he shot 44 percent from deep on 6.5 attempts per game as a senior. He’s a huge minus on the defensive end but he’s an elite floor spacer and you have to pay a premium for that.
Kispert is far more likely to go in this range of the draft, as he doesn’t have a lot of upside, but he can help playoff teams immediately. This fit with Golden State is especially good, as the Warriors need shooting.
Pick: Draft Position – Corey Kispert Over 13.5 (-160 at PointsBet)
15. Washington Wizards – F Jalen Johnson, Duke
Johnson is arguably a Top-10 talent in this draft: He’s a dynamic athlete, with great size and tremendous ability in transition. But — he’s a really poor shooter and struggles as an on-ball defender.
This feels like the spot Johnson will come off the board, with the Wizards needing to add big-time talent and not having a lot of ways to do it.
Pick: Draft Position – Jalen Johnson Over 13.5 (-125 at BetMGM)
16. Oklahoma City Thunder – F/C Isaiah Jackson, Kentucky
Jackson has a pretty high floor because of his ability to block shots and play with energy. He’s a Mitchell Robinson-type athlete, and he has some room to grow offensively.
Last year, everybody accurately predicted the Thunder made a draft promise to Aleksej Pokusevski. The rumor this year is that they’ve done the same with Jackson. Being that they pick 18th also, this is great value.
17. Memphis Grizzlies – G Chris Duarte, Oregon
Duarte is an absolute sniper but he can handle the ball a little and also competes hard defensively. The only downside is that he’s 24 years old, so he doesn’t have much room to grow.
Duarte received a Green Room invitation and Springer didn’t, suggesting NBA front offices are higher on the Oregon shooter.
Pick: First Player Drafted – Chris Duarte over Jaden Springer (+120 at BetMGM)
18. Oklahoma City Thunder – G Cameron Thomas, LSU
Thomas is a careless defender and doesn’t pass the ball very often, but he’s arguably the best scorer in this draft. It wouldn't shock us to see him score 20 points per game in the NBA.
Even if Thomas isn’t selected here, it’d be surprising if Mann goes before him, as teams seem to view Mann as more of a second-round pick.
Pick: First Player Drafted – Cameron Thomas over Tre Mann (-130 at DraftKings)
19. New York Knicks – G Sharife Cooper, Auburn
Cooper is a jumper away from being a surefire lottery pick. He gets to wherever he wants on the court and he’s an unreal passer off the dribble.
It’s very hard to imagine the scoring-deprived Knicks passing on a player with Cooper’s offensive flair — and Williams is projected to go somewhere in the 20s.
Pick: First Player Drafted – Sharife Cooper over Ziaire Williams (+125 at DraftKings)
20. Atlanta Hawks – G/F Keon Johnson, Tennessee
Johnson is one of the best athletes in the entire draft, and he’s an unbelievable point-of-attack defender. The issue is that he needs to find his role on offense.
It would be absolutely stunning if Johnson is a Top-10 pick in this draft, making this one of the best values of the entire night.
21. New York Knicks – F Usman Garuba, Real Madrid
Garuba is probably the best defender in the draft right now. He’s also a good athlete, giving him upside as a finisher on offense, and he’s working to improve his shot.
Garuba seems like a candidate to slip on draft night, but his defense/intensity combo makes for a great fit with Tom Thibodeau in New York.
Pick: Draft Position – Usman Garuba Over 16.5 (-120 at FanDuel)
22. Los Angeles Lakers – F Trey Murphy, Virginia
Murphy has the size to defend both forward positions, and he is one of the best spot-up shooters in the draft.
None of the books are offering odds on Murphy right now but he’s getting looks as early as the lottery. If you can find anything on him going in the first round... grab it immediately. He makes too much sense for any team looking to make the postseason next year.
23. Houston Rockets - F Ziaire Williams, Stanford
Williams has a lot of question marks after a rough freshman year, but he’s a gifted scorer with great size.
The Rockets are very early in what looks to be a long rebuild, so they should end the slide for Williams, the eighth-ranked player in his class coming out of high school.
24. Houston Rockets – G Jaden Springer, Tennessee
Springer isn’t elite in any one regard but does a lot of things well. That type of player tends to significantly outplay their draft slot.
As mentioned earlier, it seems pretty likely that Mann will slip out of the first round. That’s not the case for Springer, who fits so many rosters.
Pick: First Player Selected – Jaden Springer over Tre Mann (-145 at DraftKings)
25. Los Angeles Clippers – G Jared Butler, Baylor
Butler was cleared of a medical red flag for a heart condition he has dealt with for a while, but teams might still be hesitant to risk an early pick on the 2021 national champion.
Butler is a Top-15 player in this draft right now, and is a great fit for a Clippers team that can use some win-now players — especially at point guard. Only a handful of books are offering draft props for him right now, but keep an eye out. He’s likely to go somewhere in the mid to late-20s.
Pick: Draft Position – Jared Butler Over 21.5 (-112 at FanDuel)
26. Denver Nuggets – G Rokas Jokubaitis, Zalgiris
The Nuggets have done well with international players in the past, and Jokubaitis is a guard with great size that can help them off the bench as soon as he comes over.
There are no props for Jokubaitis right now, but this could also be the spot where Kentucky’s Brandon Boston (U38.5 +105 at BetMGM) lands. The Nuggets believe in their developmental system and have taken upside swings before.
27. Brooklyn Nets – C Day’Ron Sharpe, North Carolina
Sharpe is something of a throwback, as he’s a bruiser with great size and likes to play in the paint. He’s also an underrated passer.
There’s a lot of smoke about the Nets targeting Sharpe, and it makes sense with their need for a center. If he doesn’t land here, it’s unlikely he’d fall past the Suns at 29.
Pick: Draft Position – Day’Ron Sharpe Under 33.5 (-125 at BetMGM)
28. Philadelphia 76ers – G Joshua Primo, Alabama
Primo is extremely green right now, as he’s just 18 years old. But he has a clean stroke and has more to his game than you’d think off the bounce.
Primo is the exact type of player that Daryl Morey would look for at this point in the draft — he’s far from a sure thing but has a lot of upside.
Pick: Draft Position – Joshua Primo Under 31.5 (+105 at BetMGM)
29. Phoenix Suns – G Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois
Dosunmu has the size to play both guard positions, and his experience makes it likely he’ll contribute right away.
The Suns need help in the backcourt and James Jones likes guys with multiple years of college experience. It seems likely that he’ll go either here or early in the second round.
30. Utah Jazz – F Herbert Jones, Alabama
Jones is one of the most versatile defenders in this draft, and he’s good with the ball in his hands for a big man. He just needs to develop a jump shot.
After letting the Clippers score at will in the postseason last year, the Jazz desperately needs a guy that prides himself on getting stops.
Pick: Draft Position – Herbert Jones Under 42.5 (-110 at BetMGM)
Where can I bet on the NBA Draft?
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