This article is part of our Handicapping the NBA series.
As the suspension of the NBA season wears on, it's been difficult for sports bettors to scratch the itch.
Outside of team championship odds, most books have wiped out their NBA offerings. If (or, hopefully, when), the season resumes, handicapping will follow suit, but as of early May, we're still without a concrete timetable – let alone a plan of action to play out a postseason, or perhaps even a partial finish to the regular season.
Even so, our friends at the DraftKings Sportsbook are offering a simple NBA Draft prop: which prospect will go No. 1 overall?
For now, the league has held off on postponing the draft – currently scheduled for June 25 in Brooklyn – but it's widely assumed that it will not take place until after the season is finished (or officially canceled). Last week, the NBA moved to postpone its two May events – the Draft Combine and the Draft Lottery – so an announcement regarding the draft, itself, is expected in the coming weeks.
But even if the coranavirus epidemic pushes the draft to sometime in the late-summer or fall, it's never too early to begin speculating. Here are the prospects with the best odds to go No. 1 overall, via DraftKings:
After that, there's a considerable drop to Israeli forward Deni Avdija (+700), who's on somewhat of a second tier of his own. High-flying Dayton star Obi Toppin sits at +1000, while French point guard Killian Hayes rounds out the top five at +1500.
Further down the list, college basketball fans will recognize the names Cole Anthony (+3000), Isaac Okoro (+4000), Tyrese Maxey (+5000), Tyrese Haliburton (+5000) and Onyeka Okongwu (+5000), among others.
In general, the 2020 class has long been considered a relatively weak crop, but that's due in large part to the fact that it lacks major star power at the top. As the odds imply, there's no clear No. 1 guy, and it's likely that most teams' draft boards will look considerably different from one through 10.
From a betting perspective, there's not a ton of value to be found in Ball, Edwards or Wiseman. Ball may be the slight favorite right now, but at +100 you're not getting much of an incentive – especially given how much could change between now and when the draft actually happens.
The same goes for Edwards and Wiseman. Each could certainly go No. 1, but the value simply isn't there – at least not at this juncture.
My recommendation would be to wait until closer to the draft, but if you're intent on getting in on some action now, look beyond the top three. There's a decent chance the draft won't happen for another five or six months. That's plenty of time for teams to fall in love with Avdija, Toppin or Hayes, each of whom have garnered No. 1 buzz at times in the last few months.
And while some teams may be more reluctant to roll the dice on an international prospect given the limitations placed on prospect evaluations, it's difficult to assert that Ball, Edwards or Wiseman put enough on tape in 2019-20 to clinch the top spot.
Ball has improved dramatically over the last two years following his departure from high school basketball, but he's a bit of a loose cannon on the floor with a tendentious reputation off of it. Meanwhile, Wiseman played all of 69 minutes at Memphis before peacing out for the year, while Edwards' freshman season at Georgia ranged from spectacular to this guy might be the next Dion Waiters.
This is all to say: I have no idea who's going No. 1 overall right now – no one does. Each draft is unique, and the odds rightfully reflect the kind of draft this one is shaping up to be.