NBA Draft: First round mock draft betting picks

By Jonathan Von Tobel  (Senior NBA Analyst) 

June 19, 2023 08:25 AM


The NBA Draft is nowhere near the betting event that the NFL Draft has become. The event itself is buried by the NBA Finals, and information as to how teams will handle their draft selections is hard to come by. However, if you dig deep enough you can find information that can help you conquer what is a very thin betting market.

Not many draft props are available on players projected to be drafted outside of the lottery, but there are still quite a few selections for bettors to get down on. So for today’s mock draft I’ve decided to tie a bet into as many selections as I can while also giving out information that I’ve compiled from industry experts. 

All of the props you see are available at DraftKings, as they have the most expansive market for the NBA Draft available.

1. San Antonio Spurs

Victor Wembanyama (F, Metropolitans 92)

There is no need for an in-depth breakdown of the reasoning behind this pick. Wembanyama could be one of the best players of his generation when all is said and done, and he joins a team in San Antonio that has quietly amassed some good young talent. San Antonio has only won 56 games the last two seasons, but they have exciting pieces in Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, Jeremy Sochan and Tre Jones as well. The future is extremely bright for the Spurs.

Bet: Victor Wembanyama First Overall Pick (-20000)

2. Charlotte Hornets

Scoot Henderson (G, G-League Ignite)

Henderson has regained his status as odds-on favorite to be the second overall pick. He reportedly turned heads in a recent workout with Charlotte in which Brandon Miller was also present for. He would fit better next to LaMelo Ball than most believe, and there is also a chance the Hornets deal this pick. 

New Orleans and Charlotte have spoken about a swap here, and the name that was initially reported to be coveted by the Hornets was Brandon Ingram. However, the Pelicans could be willing to move off of Zion Williamson in order to draft Henderson, who New Orleans general manager David Griffin reportedly has a “man crush” on.

One last note: Do not dismiss what new ownership can do for a team. New Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia was reportedly the driving force behind the team acquiring both Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal. The new owners in Charlotte could push for an exciting piece as well, and Williamson is a very exciting player to put next to Ball.

Bet: Scoot Henderson Second Overall Pick (-150)

3. Portland Trail Blazers

Brandon Miller (F, Alabama)

What is going to happen with Damian Lillard? It has been reported that Lillard and Portland are committed to one another, but Lillard continues to put out vague threats via the media and there aren’t many options for the Trail Blazers via trade to make the team better. Lillard staying most likely means this pick ends up in the hands of another team, but which team would it be and for who?

The other option is Lillard leaves and Portland makes the selection with the future in mind, so I am making this selection under the assumption that the longtime guard is elsewhere. These windows just do not line up anymore, and the Trail Blazers could get a haul of assets for Lillard and an extremely talented wing player in Miller. There have been reports that Miller is struggling with conditioning, but a bout with mono could be the reason why those issues have been present. He’s a great 3-and-D prospect that would fit nicely with the core of Anfernee Simons and Shaedon Sharpe.

Bet: Top 3 Exact Order V. Wembanyama, S. Henderson, B. Miller (-140)

4. Houston Rockets

Cam Whitmore (F, Villanova)

Almost every report and mock draft points to Houston deciding between Whitmore and Amen Thompson at this spot. Thompson is more of a point guard prospect, and with the potential of Harden joining the team in the offseason it would not make much sense to draft him with Harden on the way along with Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green on the roster.

Whitmore has been one of the more popular risers in the pre-draft process. He was always considered to be a fringe candidate to be selected in the top five, but by all accounts his workouts have cemented him here. He’s a physical offensive player with a good off the bounce game that can double as a solid on-ball defender. Should Harden make his way back Whitmore would be a great piece to add to the mix.

Bet: Cam Whitmore Fourth Overall Pick (+150)

5. Detroit Pistons

Jarace Walker (F, Houston)

The betting market has been all over the place with Walker when it comes to both draft position and odds to be a top five selection. However, the intel around Walker has slowly come back full circle to this spot with Detroit.

The Pistons’ weakest position on the roster is power forward, and Walker would immediately be the best player at his position if drafted by Detroit. He is a defensive minded forward who can switch out to the perimeter to defend opposing guards. His offensive game is still a question, but he is a threat as a roll-man and a good finisher.

Walker’s draft position prop has been bet up from 5.5 when it first opened to 6.5 shaded to the over at -175 at DraftKings. However, both Kevin O’Conner and Sam Vecenie have Walker going to Detroit in their most recent mocks. If Whitmore goes to Houston this pick makes even more sense for the Pistons.

Bet: Jarace Walker Fifth Overall Pick (+275)

6. Orlando Magic

Amen Thompson (G, Overtime Elite)

This might be a bit farther down the board than most expected Thompson to end up, but it's not out of the realm of possibility. If Whitmore ends up going to Houston fourth overall it would cause a slide for Thompson only because of Detroit’s positional need.

Orlando desperately needs a point guard, and Thompson not only fits a need but his physical measurements match with the Magic’s roster style. At 6-foot-7 Thompson would be part of a potentially massive starting five for Orlando that includes Franz Wagner (6-foot-10), Paolo Banchero (6-foot-9) and Wendell Carter Jr. (6-foot-10). That is a long and athletic group that can get out and run. Thompson isn’t a perfect shooter, but the Magic have another first round pick with which they can address that issue. If the board falls this way Orlando should run to make the selection.

Bet: Amen Thompson Sixth Overall Pick (+450)

7. Indiana Pacers

Taylor Hendricks (F, UCF)

Hendricks is arguably the biggest riser in the pre-draft process. When draft season initially picked up he was a fringe top 10 selection, but at this point it would be a shock if he was available when Dallas is on the clock. In fact, according to James Edwards at The Athletic, he is one of five prospects the Pistons are considering at five.

Hendricks is everything a team like Indiana could want. He is a dynamic wing that fits perfectly next to the backcourt pieces like Tyrese Haliburton, Bennedict Mathurin and others. The Pacers were 26th in non-garbage time defensive rating last season, and Hendricks could help improve that while also being able to shoot consistently as a 39.4% shooter for the Knights last season.

Bet: Taylor Hendricks Seventh Overall Pick (+225)

8. Washington Wizards

Anthony Black (G, Arkansas)

Washington is reportedly looking at guards here, and one would assume that desire is only deepened by the trade of Bradley Beal to Phoenix. Black is an excellent two-way guard that would give the Wizards’ rebuild a jumpstart. At this point of the draft it is hard to pinpoint concrete intel, but Vecenie and Jonathan Givony of ESPN both have Black slated to go here. He has worked out for Washington already and fits a need. It’s worth mentioning that Vecenie mentioned Kentucky guard Cason Wallace as a possibility here as well.

Bet: Anthony Black Eighth Overall Pick (+175)

9. Utah Jazz

Bilal Coulibaly (F, Metropolitans 92)

NBA Big Board analyst Rafael Barlowe reported that Utah is looking to take Coulibaly at this spot, and if Barlowe says it that is good enough for me. Coulibaly is another riser in the pre-draft process, although most of the positive vibes generated by him have come via his play on the court during his and Wembanyama’s run to their championship series. Coulibaly projects to be a great defender both on and off the ball. He is also extremely athletic and possesses the ability to be an explosive dunker. His skill set would fit perfectly with Lauri Markkanen’s offense and Walker Kessler’s rim protection.

Bet: Bilal Coulibaly Ninth Overall Selection (+1000)

10. Dallas Mavericks

Ausar Thompson (G/F, Overtime Elite)

It is extremely unlikely that Dallas is going to keep this selection, but regardless of who is picking here Thompson is a great steal with how this mock has fallen. Thompson is a good finisher through contact and will work as a cutter on offense, and that works nicely with a passer like Luka Doncic on the floor. He is also a solid off-ball defender as well which helps Dallas after it fell to 23rd in non-garbage time defensive efficiency last season. There is little intel that matches these teams up, but at this point of the draft its all about value and if Thompson is available this is an extremely valuable pick up.

Bet: Ausar Thompson 10th Overall Selection (+4000)

11. Orlando Magic

Gradey Dick (SG/SF, Kansas)

Orlando desperately needs to address its shooting woes, and Dick would be a great way to do that. Dick shot 40.3% on 5.7 3-point attempts per game for Kansas last season, and is considered by some to be the best shooter in this class. Meanwhile, the Magic shot just 34.9% from deep overall and 33.4% on non-corner 3-point attempts last season. It’s a match made in heaven, and multiple mock drafts have made this connection throughout the draft process. Even if he’s not selected here bettors can feel confident in betting Dick to land outside of the top 10 selections.

Bet: Gradey Dick Draft Position OVER 10.5 (-250)

12. Oklahoma City Thunder

Jalen Hood-Schifino (G, Indiana)

Oklahoma City’s roster is rife with young talent, so they have the luxury of drafting the best player available by their evaluation. At this point of the draft it is Jalen Hood-Schifino or Kobe Bufkin, and seeing as they are reportedly having trouble on getting Bufkin in the building (More on that coming up) Hood-Schifino is the pick. On offense it would be interesting to see his fit next to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but he projects to be a solid defensive guard who can switch onto multiple positions. He can also fit with a young Thunder team that loves to get up and down the floor. His inconsistent shooting might prove to be an issue for Oklahoma City’s spacing, but if he can find consistency with his 3-point shot he could be a steal for an already talented team.

Bet: N/A

13. Toronto Raptors

Kobe Bufkin (G, Michigan)

On the most recent episode of The Lowe Post it was theorized that Bufkin might have a promise from someone to be drafted. According to Givony, teams are having trouble scheduling Bufkin for a workout and the reason why could be that his people believe he is already locked into going somewhere. There are many who have Bufkin mocked to go to Oklahoma City, but Givony stated on the same episode that the Thunder don’t even have medicals on Bufkin. So, he slides here to Toronto. The Raptors’ backcourt is in flux, as both Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. could be in different uniforms next season. Bufkin can come in and give an extremely thing backcourt a boost in talent, and his physical profile matches that of Toronto’s roster.

Bet: Kobe Bufkin Draft Position UNDER 14.5 (-330)

14. New Orleans Pelicans

Keyonte George (G, Baylor)

There is a chance New Orleans is not making this pick, but trades are too hard to project in the NBA Draft. For the sake of this exercise the Pelicans are, and as a result they get a lead guard, just not they one they covet. Still, George is a decent consolation prize. George showed an incredible ball-handling ability at Baylor, as well as the ability to shoot from the perimeter. His efficiency wasn’t incredible, and that is why his range is vast. Jonathan Givony and Sam Vecenie have him going 22nd and 27th respectively in their latest mocks. However, Kevin O’Conner has George slotted here, so there are some believe this can be his ceiling and he fits a need for New Orleans. Either way, bettors should look to bet his draft position prop over.

It should also be noted that George is reportedly coveted by the Utah Jazz who have a pick coming up at 16th. There is certainly a chance George is selected here by Utah, or earlier should they move up to get him.

Bet: Keyonte George (+135) over Jordan Hawkins

15. Atlanta Hawks

Cason Wallace (G, Kentucky)

Atlanta has almost its entire roster from last season back on the books, but one of the positions that could use depth is point guard. Dejounte Murray and Trae Young constantly stagger, but the only other ball-handling guard on the roster as of now is Aaron Holiday. Wallace could fill that role well for Quin Snyder if he is selected. He can pair well next to either Murray or Young without taking away from any of the wing pieces like AJ Griffin or Bogdan Bogdanovic. It is a great fit on paper, so it would make sense for the Hawks to take a swing on Wallace here.

Bet: Cason Wallace Draft Position OVER 12.5 (+105)

16. Utah Jazz

Jordan Hawkins (G, UConn)

Two names have been linked to Utah at this spot: Keyonte George and Jordan Hawkins. Since George is off the board in this mock then Hawkins will be the selection. Hawkins was a knockdown shooter for the Huskies last season, hitting 38.8% of his 3-point attempts on the way to a national championship. He would fit nicely for Utah which really ramped up its shooting last season with an overall 3-point frequency of 39.0%, according to Cleaning The Glass. The Jazz might want George here, but if they end up with Hawkins along with Coulibaly as previously mocked then I would call it a good night for Utah.

Bet: Jordan Hawkins Draft Position OVER 15.5 (-150)

17. Los Angeles Lakers

Dereck Lively (C, Duke)

There was some hot buzz that Lively could be making his way inside the top 10 of this draft, and there is obviously a chance that this happens. However, with the way this mock draft is breaking down he is still available when Los Angeles makes its selection, and I think this is a match made in heaven. The Lakers need center depth desperately, and they were searching high and low for center minutes outside of Anthony Davis in the postseason. Lively is a perfect answer as a mobile 7-foot-1 center who can provide rim protection, and he has the makings of a floor spacer if his jumpshot develops. Los Angeles has a strong history of developing players, and Lively could be another on a long list of youngsters that reached their potential with this organization.

Bet: N/A

18. Miami Heat

Jett Howard (G, Michigan)

Miami is still holding out hope that Damian Lillard is going to force his way out of Portland, so there is certainly a chance this pick changes hands before the draft. However, the Heat still hold this pick as of Monday morning, so let’s give them an electric shooter that can move. Howard only shot 36.8% from deep for the Wolverines, but he is great off dribble-handoffs which pairs nicely with what the Heat love to do with Bam Adebayo. Plus, both Gabe Vincent and Max Strus are restricted free agents, which means there is a chance one of those two is gone this offseason, meaning Miami could use some shooting depth once again. 

Bet: N/A

19. Golden State Warriors

Kris Murray (F, Iowa)

The Ringer’s Kevin O’Conner has reported that Golden State is looking to move back from this selection once the draft is underway, so it is unlikely that the Warriors will make this selection. Having said that, if they make the pick it could be Murray, as Sam Vecenie has said there is prevailing thought that Golden State is looking for older players to add to their young mix. Murray is 22 years old, and he can fill a 3-and-D role much like his brother did for Sacramento.

Bet: N/A

20. Houston Rockets

Nick Smith (G, Arkansas)

If James Harden is going to be a member of the Houston Rockets it would be foolish to waste a top five pick on a guard. However, at this point of the draft it makes much more sense to take a swing on a guard like Smith, regardless of Harden’s fate. Smith has drawn comparisons to Jamal Murray or Tyler Herro, and if he takes the developmental path of Murray the Rockets could have a steal. Smith could play next to Jalen Green, and with the tenuous standing of Kevin Porter Jr. with the team he could be an option as their point guard of the future.

Bet: N/A

21. Brooklyn Nets

Dariq Whitehead (G, Duke)

Brooklyn’s backcourt is in need of some help and Whitehead could provide that. Yes, he somewhat underperformed at Duke, but much of that could be attributed to the foot injury he suffered not healing correctly. Whitehead underwent a second procedure to fix the issue, and it is thought that he will be ready to go for the start of training camp. He is a good offensive player with a pull-up game, and he has shown flashes as a good off-ball defender. For a team which desperately needs offensive firepower he could be a steal at this point of the draft.

Bet: N/A

22. Brooklyn Nets

Noah Clowney (F, Alabama)

Seeing as the Nets have consecutive first round picks we could see this selection, or both, get flipped in some way. Should Brooklyn make this selection Clowney makes a ton of sense. He is a defensive minded forward that can still play next to Nic Claxton. Clowney took 3.3 3-point attempts per game for the Crimson Tide, and many scouts think his jumpshot could turn into a consistent weapon, and if that is the case he is a great fit for the Nets.

Bet: N/A

23. Portland Trail Blazers

Leonard Miller (F, G-League Ignite)

There are no markets for first round picks, but Miller is one that would be worth betting if they pop up in the next couple days. He is a good ball-handler that can finish at a high level while also filling up the stat sheet. He is young, but that has been a staple of this Portland front office: Drafting young talent and then developing them into legit players in the NBA. They did it with Anfernee Simons and they could do it here with the 19-year-old Miller.

Bet: N/A

24. Sacramento Kings

Rayan Rupert (F, NZ Breakers)

Sacramento needs to add to its defense this offseason, and one of the ways to do it is to take a chance on Rupert out of New Zealand. Rupert is an awesome defensive prospect that will be effective both on and off the ball. He has plenty of room for growth on offense, and his ability to handle the ball is underrated and comes from his time playing guard as a kid. This is a project, but Mike Brown is a great head coach who can accelerate that development for Rupert on offense.

Bet: Rayan Rupert (-175) over Gregory Jackson

25. Memphis Grizzlies

Colby Jones (F, Xavier)

Dillon Brooks is on his way out and that means the Memphis Grizzlies will be looking to fill a hole at the wing position. Jones could be a nice fit there as a 42% catch-and-shoot threat in college. It also gives a team which struggled with consistent shooting a nice threat to space the floor.

Bet: N/A

26. Indiana Pacers

Oliver Maxence-Prosper (F, Marquette)

It is nearly impossible to predict which selections are going to take place at this point of the draft. Picks will be traded with teams like Milwaukee, Phoenix and Cleveland all reportedly calling in an attempt to get in this range to make a selection. For now, let’s slot Maxence-Prosper here. He is a solid forward that just adds depth to one of Indiana’s weakest positions on the roster.

Bet: N/A

27. Charlotte Hornets

Jaime Jaquez (F, UCLA)

For Charlotte’s second first round pick it makes sense to take a swing on an older player like Jaquez. He is a good all-around player that can score in the post against smaller players while also playing sound defense. The Hornets do not have much depth at the small forward position, so Jaquez fills that role nicely. He will also be a favorite of Steve Clifford with his intensity on the court.

Bet: N/A

28. Utah Jazz

Brandin Podziemski (G, Santa Clara)

This would be the third selection of the first round for Utah should it make it, and at this point the team is just stockpiling talent. Podziemski is considered one of the risers in the pre-draft process, doing enough to be considered a fringe first round selection. He is a good catch-and-shoot threat, and he has shown that an extremely nice floater is part of his arsenal. For a Utah team looking for backcourt talent he is a fit here if the Jazz are still selecting.

Bet: N/A 

29. Indiana Pacers

Brice Sensabaugh (G, Ohio State)

It is almost certain that Indiana does not make this selection if the intel about the backend of the first round is accurate, but if they do why not add to its absolutely loaded backcourt? Sensabaugh projects to be a brilliant scorer who can hurt opponents from multiple levels of the court. Much like Bennedict Mathurin last season, he could come off the bench and provide a scoring punch for almost any team.

Bet: N/A

30. Los Angeles Clippers

Ben Sheppard (F, Belmont)

Los Angeles could be moving off Robert Covington and Marcus Morris this offseason, and that would mean a need for depth along the wing. Sheppard could fit that need with the final pick of the first round. He hit 40.4% of his catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts his senior year, and played fantastic defense. His profile matches with what the Clippers love, and some even believe he could be off the board before we reach the end of the first round.

Bet: N/A

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