On The Clock: Betting On The NBA Draft With 2020-21 Season A Month Away

Written By Grant Lucas on November 18, 2020Last Updated on October 26, 2021

Just over a month ago, LeBron James led the Los Angeles Lakers to the franchise’s 17th NBA championship.

In just over a month, the 2020-21 season expects to get underway. Marking the midpoint of this unusual offseason, the NBA draft will be conducted virtually from ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut.

Over the next few weeks, speculation will abound regarding which player will be selected first overall, which team “won the draft,” which organizations hold the best odds to win the league title, all leading into a pre-Christmas tipoff for the new NBA season.

Folks in Oregon will certainly chime in with their opinions, especially if pundits don’t include the Portland Trail Blazers as contenders.  But fans of the Blazers — as well as other local favorites such as the Lakers and Golden State Warriors — can also legally put money behind their beliefs via the Oregon Lottery Scoreboard betting app.

Starting with the NBA draft.

Who will go No. 1 in the NBA draft?

The Minnesota Timberwolves hold the first overall pick in this special fall edition of the league’s annual draft, followed by the Warriors and the Charlotte Hornets.

Time will tell if Minnesota keeps the pick or opts to trade it away. Regardless of which team goes on the clock first, it seems the choice of which player goes first is between only two players: Anthony Edwards or LaMelo Ball.

And Scoreboard agrees.

Player (College/Interational Team) Odds
Anthony Edwards (Georgia) -125
LaMelo Ball (Illawarra Hawks, Australia) +100
James Wiseman (Memphis) +650
Deni Avdija (Maccabi Tel Aviv, Israel) +10000
Obi Toppin (Dayton) +10000

What other NBA draft betting markets exist?

Draft position

Not so confident which player will be the first off the big board? Or perhaps just not liking the value?

No problem. Through Scoreboard, bettors can wager on the outcome of six players, essentially betting on the over/under of draft position.

For example, Edwards enters the draft as a contender to go first overall. His over/under via Scoreboard sits at 1.5. So, for those who think Edwards will get drafted first, they can bet on it at -125 odds. If he falls to second, that hits the over and pays +100.

Other draft position markets include and coinciding over/under totals and odds include:

  • LaMelo Ball, Illawarra Hawks (Australia): over/under 2.5 (+120/-140)
  • James Wiseman, Memphis: 2.5 (+170/-230)
  • Deni Avdija, Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel): 4.5 (-115/-115)
  • Obi Toppin, Dayton: 5.5 (+120/-150)
  • Onyeka Okongwu, USC: 6.5 (+120/-150)
  • Tyrese Haliburton, Iowa State: 7.5 (+130/-160)
  • Killian Hayes. Ratiopharm (Germany): 7.5 (-200/+160)

Conference-, team- and international-specific totals

Traditionally, the ACC (namely Duke and North Carolina) and the SEC (specifically Kentucky) dominate draft day.

But there’s just no telling exactly how many players from each conference/team will go in the first round until everything is official.

That said, Scoreboard offers a way to cash in on such predictions. Bettors can wager on the total players taken in the opening round from four of the five power conferences.

Conference Over/Under (Odds)
ACC 5.5 (+500/-825)
Pac-12 5.5 (-105/-125)
SEC 5.5 (-110/-120)
Big 12 2.5 (+180/-235)
Big Ten 1.5 (+155/-195)

Trail Blazers without a first-round pick

Technically, Portland will select 16th overall. But the Trail Blazers will not keep that player.

In the days leading up to the draft, Portland worked toward finalizing a trade with the Houston Rockets to bring in Robert Covington in exchange for Trevor Ariza and two first-round picks.

The 16th pick is part of the deal, which cannot be completed until after Wednesday’s draft. So in essence, Portland will draft for Houston. The other first-round pick in the trade is a 2021 protected pick.

As it stands, the Trail Blazers own one draft pick in 2020: 46th overall.

Important dates for the 2020-21 NBA season

Just in time for Christmas, the 2020-21 NBA season expects to tip off Dec. 22.

The league’s board of governors unanimously approved an amendment to the collective bargaining agreement that allowed the NBA to schedule a 72-game regular season without the All-Star Game.

As negotiated with the National Basketball Players Association, the new season will get going three days before Christmas and conclude May 16. Similar to the format shown in the Orlando bubble, a play-in-tournament for teams seeded seventh through 10th will occur May 17-21. The first round of the playoffs will follow May 22.

While no All-Star Game will occur this season, there will be a break in the schedule between March 5 and March 10, essentially allowing the league to reschedule any games during this time should any be canceled as a result of COVID-19.

With new alternate uniforms at the ready, the Trail Blazers will certainly look to maintain a healthy roster throughout the shortened season and capitalize on it. The Blazers have reached the playoffs seven straight years (tied for the second-longest active streak) and will seek out the franchise’s second NBA title and first since 1977.

The Trail Blazers hold +2800 odds to win the 2021 NBA Finals — ranked 12th among the league’s 30 teams. The favorites to lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy include:

Team Odds
Los Angeles Lakers +335
Los Angeles Clippers +550
Milwaukee Bucks +600
Brooklyn Nets +600
Golden State Warriors +700

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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sports writer who has covered the high school, collegiate and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield and Oregon State athletics, the Portland Trail Blazers and golf throughout his career.

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