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2020 NBA Draft - by the odds

This year’s NBA draft was always going to be fraught with uncertainty: Firstly, around whether/when it would happen (hello Covid!) and also about the quality of the talent trying to find homes in the greatest basketball league on the planet.

Consensus opinion is that this year’s draft pool is solid, but not outstanding. This group of youngsters unfortunately follows two stacked draft classes that produced Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, Tyler Herro and Luka Doncic, who all appear destined for greatness.

The class of 2020-21 is sadly not as heavily laden with talent. Be that as it may, the business of basketball must go on, and clubs will still be wheeling and dealing through draft day on November 18 in the hope of unearthing that one sleeper that they hope to mold into a future Hall-of-Famer. The late, great, Kobe Bryant was drafted 13th overall in the 1996 draft.

And, as with any year’s draft, there is the appropriate speculation on the order in which each prospect is picked. As far as Cloudbet odds are concerned, LaMelo Ball last week moved ahead of Anthony Edwards as the prospect most likely to be drafted first.

We take the opportunity now to bring you the likely top picks, as indicated by Cloudbet odds.

It’s our very own NBA mock draft.

(Prospect’s most recent club/college follows their name. Prices are current as of 8am UTC, but be sure to check the latest odds.)

Pick 1: Minnesota Timberwolves

LaMelo Ball

Illawarra Hawks, Australia
Odds on being drafted first: 1.45 (-223)

Ball firmed as top draft pick following reports of a solid workout with the Timberwolves, who could use this mercurial point guard to complement D'Angelo Russell and center Karl-Anthony Towns.

Some say Ball’s skill set overlaps too much with Russell - so don’t be surprised if the Wolves trade Ball’s potential as a future franchise point guard elsewhere to get what they really need - a dynamic wing scorer, or another solid big man to complement Towns.

If you want to give yourself some wriggle room, consider the over/under on Ball’s draft position. Ball going first or second pick pays 1.35 (-284). Three or higher returns 3.21 (+221).

Pick 2: Golden State Warriors

Anthony Edwards

Georgia Bulldogs
Odds on being drafted second: 2.2 (+120)

Interesting second pick for a team that suffered last year because of injuries to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. The Splash Brothers are back this year, making the Dubs an instant title contender, with a high lottery pick thanks to a forgettable 2019-20 season. The Warriors need a big man, and early betting odds favored them picking 7-foot James Wiseman to fit that bill.

One consideration is that Curry and Thompson, while still in the prime of their careers, may start to slow in a couple years. With that in mind, Golden State may not want to wait for Wiseman to mature and may choose Edwards, a two-guard with an NBA-ready body who some say is really this draft’s best prospect, as valuable trade bait for what they really want. That’s what the odds seem to be indicating at this stage.

Pick 3: Charlotte Hornets

James Wiseman

Memphis Tigers
Odds on being drafted third: 2.2 (+120)

Charlotte is in rebuilding mode, is badly in need of marquee players and also badly needs big men. In which case, James Wiseman makes perfect sense. Some compare him to a Javale McGee-type of player - big, but athletic and can roll to the rim strongly and defend as well - so expect him to get up and down the court quick, catch lots of lobs and block lots of shots.

Expect Wiseman to get some serious minutes in the talent-deficient Charlotte rotation. The former Gatorade National Player of the Year was one of the most sought-after recruits coming out of high school. He boasts an incredible 9-foot-6-inch reach, which makes him an instant factor, whether on offence or defence.

Pick 4: Chicago Bulls

Deni Avdija

Maccabi Tel Aviv, Israel
Odds on being drafted fourth: 2.5 (+150) touts Avdija as possibly the “greatest basketball talent that Israel has ever had.” This 19-year-old playmaking forward has been playing pro basketball with domestic powerhouse Maccabi since 2017 and pundits have been gushing about his court vision and ball handling, as well as his high basketball IQ.

Avdija would be a valuable addition to a Bulls squad that has been rebuilding for a couple of years and has a core of good young players in need of development. That responsibility now falls to a new front office and new head coach Billy Donovan. If Avdija lives up to the hype, he will make Donovan’s job that much easier.

Pick 5: Cleveland Cavaliers

Obi Toppin

Odds on being drafted fifth or higher: 1.6 (-167)

It wasn’t so long ago that Lebron James gave the Cavs their first title ever. Four years later, they’re languishing near the bottom of the league while James has taken his championship talents to Los Angeles.

The Cavs drafted guards Collin Sexton and Darius Garland in the last two drafts, but could use solid talent inside, which is where Toppin comes in. A powerful and physical forward, Toppin captured nearly every college player-of-the-year honour last season. He has compared himself physically to Amare Stoudemire, and as a player, to Al Horford.

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Nov 16, 2020

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