The new wave of players will enter the NBA on Thursday night with the draft. Today’s odds have moved heavily in favor of Jabari Smith being the No. 1 overall pick. The top 3 seem to be set with Chet Holmgren and then Paolo Banchero rounding out the top 3, but then it could go in any direction. Let’s look at some props for the draft that you should consider.
(All odds via DraftKings)
Purdue G Jaden Ivey at No. 4 (-200)
It’s important to know that guard is not a need for the Kings with De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell in the backcourt. Right behind them are many teams that would love to build around Ivey, who has a ton of upside, quickness, a premier jump shot, and creates highlight reels when he finishes to the basket.
The fact that Kings do not need Ivey makes the ability to trade that pick more enticing. We can see someone move up to grab him, or Sacramento makes the pick and moves him later in the draft.
Arizona G Bennedict Mathurin at No. 5 (+200)
The Pistons sit at this spot, and their moves in the last 24 hours indicate their eyes are on Mathurin.
NBA insiders say that the Arizona swingman was universally loved throughout the private workout cycle. Several executives said they not only liked his on-court skills and workout scores, but he excelled in the interviews.
He can play either wing spot and shoot off the screen but also has the quickness to gain separation from the perimeter and drive the lane and finish. He could pair well with Cade Cunningham in the backcourt, and it would be difficult for the Pistons to pass him up.
Some are expecting Detroit to take Keegan Murray, especially after the trade of Jerami Grant a day prior, but that was a move to free cap space, not necessarily to find his replacement in the draft. The rumor is the Piston will be offering a max deal to Suns free agent C Deandre Ayton, and with that, no name for Murray.
SF Ousmane Dieng to be drafted in the top 10 (+110)
Dieng’s value is good here as it’s hard to believe any team in the latter half of the top 10 would pass on him if he’s on the board.
He’s another versatile player you can see playing the wing right now, but he has the height and frame to move to the power forward position if he bulks up.
He has an excellent mid-range jumper and can play off the screen and create separation. Excellent ball-handling skills and the quickness to turn towards the rim and finish. Lastly, he’s proven to be a two-way player with his defensive skills and can lock up the ball handler but could defend different positions.
The Pelicans at No. 8 are rumored to have loved him during his private workout, and although they have a solid roster right now, picking a guy like Dieng would be a good boost. If he doesn’t wind up in NOLA, it’s far-fetched to believe San Antonio or Washington would pass either.
Duke C Mark Williams O/U 13.5 (+170)
Williams is a center in the truest sense — tough on the glass as a defender, well-above-average shot blocker, good rebounder, low percentage shooting outside of the paint and at the free-throw line.
As a pure center, he’s second behind Jalen Duren, whom many believe to be just outside the top 10.
From 13-15 are the Hornets with two picks and Cavaliers sandwiched in between. The Hornets need some presence down low, and Williams would be a good fit at 13.
Kansas G Ochai Agbaji O/U 14.5 (+110)
Agbaji is one of the best shooters in this draft, and he’s the quintessential plug-and-play, 3-and-D prospect who will be ready to contribute immediately.
At 22, he has the experience and was a proven leader as he propelled Kansas to a National Championship.
While he shot 40% from three this past season, he continually made improvements throughout his career.
He’s been projected from 12-16, and I believe it’ll be the latter. The Hornets would be an excellent fit for him as a team that needs a shooter, but I think they go center, as mentioned. The Cavaliers need a wing, and most likely, the Hornets will give up that pick to who could potentially take Agbaji.
Lock of the Draft: Gonzaga PF Chet Holmgren at No. 2
Jabari Smith is the guy that will have his name called first on Thursday, leaving Holmgren as the next overall prospect on the board.
He only worked out for the Magic and Thunder during the pre-draft process, so it’s tough to believe the Thunder are passing on him. You won’t make much, but it’s a lock, so why not?
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