The 2019 NBA Draft is set for Thursday night from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and much like it’s NFL counterpart it has become a popular betting event in it’s own right. The NBA draft dates back to 1947 and has seen a number of rule and format changes over the years. Currently, the NBA Draft has only two rounds which makes it much shorter and far less tedious than drafts in other professional sports. At one point, high school players were allowed to declare for the NBA Draft but that changed in 2006 and now high school players do not attain draft eligibility until one year after their graduation.
In the early days of the NBA Draft the process was far less regimented than it is now. At one point, teams would keep making selections until they ran out of prospects–something that would be downright unwieldy today. The 1960 and 1968 NBA drafts went 22 rounds but by 1974 it had more or less settled at 10 rounds. In 1985, the length of the draft was cut to 7 rounds where it would remain until 1989 when it was cut to two rounds. Undrafted players can try out for any NBA team.
The 2000 NBA Draft is a nearly unanimous choice as the worst in history. Kenyon Martin was the #1 pick that year and would become a credible NBA player with a 15 year career. The quality of the draft would drop quickly from there to #2 choice Stromile Swift who bounced around the NBA for a decade making minimal impact. Sports Illustrated hilariously (and correctly) called the 2000 first round class ‘a horrible group of players’.
The 2019 NBA Draft class is expected to be significantly better than that. The first three picks in the draft all but set at this point. The New Orleans Pelicans are expected to take Duke power forward Zion Williamson with the first pick. Williamson is considered to be the best player in the draft by far and has been compared to superstars like Charles Barkley and LeBroun James. The Memphis Grizzlies will take Murray State pointguard Ja Morant with their second pick. The New York Knicks will use the third pick in the draft to select Williamson’s Duke teammate RJ Barrett. There’s a bit of uncertainty about the #3 pick but not much.
The fourth pick is where things will start to get interesting. New Orleans obtained the #4 pick from the LA Lakers as part of the deal for Anthony Davis. There has been considerable speculation about what they’ll do with it but the thinking now is that they’ll trade it to one of several teams that are in need of a pointguard. Most of the teams that have been in discussion with the Pelicans are interested in Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland so he’ll most likely be the fourth pick in the draft. Yesterday, Garland was priced at +175 to go at #4 but today he’s priced at -175. There’s also a prop bet on where Garland will be selected–Over or Under pick #5.5. Currently the ‘Under’ is -500. Since Jarrett Culver is also O/U Pick 5.5 priced at ‘Under’ -200 that suggests he’ll go #5.