Jabari Smith Jr. is the consensus favorite for the No. 1 choice, but odds on sports books have moved on to what bookmakers say has become the most difficult betting NBA draft ever.
Smith, a versatile, 6-foot-10 forward from Auburn, remains the chance to favorite for the No. 1 spot. 1 choice in Thursday’s draft (7:30 pm ET, ESPN / ABC). Since Monday, his chances have improved from -145 to -280 at Caesars Sportsbook. Smith’s chances were also improved at DraftKings, where he sat at -275 on Wednesday. The Orlando Magic possess the first choice, except a trade.
Duke’s Paolo Banchero has the one to one best chance at no. 1 and has also seen increased betting interest this week. Banchero, who was 10-1 on Sunday, stands at +280 on Caesars Sportsbook on Wednesday, ahead of Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren (+500), whose chances have disappeared. Holmgren’s odds were as short as +145 earlier this week. Smith, Banchero and Holmgren are the only players with single-digit odds around the No. 1 opkj.
The changing prices and odds movement have attracted heavy betting interest, especially from professional bettors. At Caesars Sportsbook, the opportunities for the No. 1-choice in the NBA draft has attracted five times as much money has been invested in the chance to be the number 1. 1 choice in the NFL draft, according to Eric Fenstermaker, senior trading manager for Caesars Sportsbook.
“It’s the strangest concept brand I think I’ve ever booked,” Windowmaker, a veteran Nevada bookmaker, told ESPN on Wednesday. “Most of the time there is clear news at this point about who No.
Windowmaker said a group of sharp bettors “who always hit us on the draft” targeted Holmgren last week, significantly improving his chances. At one point, Holmgren was a co-favorite with Smith around the No. 1 pick by Caesars Sportsbook. But the action has shifted to Banchero this week.
Since Sunday afternoon, there had been more betting on Banchero to be the best choice than there had been on another NBA brand offered at Caesars Sportsbook. Online sportsbook PointsBet also reports an increase in betting interest on Banchero at no. 1. In the past week, Banchero’s odds have moved from 16-1 to 5-2 at PointsBet.
“This is the nature of draft laws, in which market movements are as wild as the rumors they drive,” said Jay Croucher, head of trading for PointsBet. “We saw similar crazy fluctuations with the number one pick brand in the NFL draft. Someone out there clearly thinks Banchero has a better chance than public perception to go first, but Smith remains the surest bet.”