2021 NBA Draft Betting

Betting on the NBA Draft has seen a major spike in interest of the last few years. The NBA futures odds market is alive and well, and there will be plenty of opportunities to explore as draft day approaches.

Included on that list are dozens of NBA Draft prop odds from which players will go first or second overall to which teams will select which player to the position of the player that’ll go #1.

NBA Draft betting is fun for seasoned and casual fans. Here’s what you need to know about it, starting with the top US online sportsbooks where you can make a bet.

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How to bet on the NBA Draft

The NBA Draft is an exciting time for prospects as they finally achieve their dreams. For fans and teams, the Draft brings hope and excitement for what the future may hold.

Basketball bettors can get in on that hope as well. You’ll have several ways to bet on draft results. You can do so well in advance of the NBA Draft via the futures market, or jump in on the day of the event and explore opportunities.

Here are some of the various bet types you’ll come across:

  • First overall selection
  • Second overall selection
  • Top three picks in order
  • First player drafted by position
  • Player to be drafted by which team
  • Over/under on player draft position

For bets in which there are several selections available, the odds listing will resemble what you would find in the futures market. When it’s a wager with just two choices, such as an over/under of player draft position, the odds will look like the two sides of a single-game bet.

For example, let’s take a look at some of the favorites for the top overall pick (odds from DraftKings Sportsbook as of July 23):

  • Cade Cunningham -8000
  • Jalen Green: +1500
  • Evan Mobley: +2200
  • Jalen Suggs: +2500
  • Scottie Barnes: +4500

Now let’s say you had a hunch that Mobley will be the first pick and place a $50 bet at odds of +2200. If Mobley ends up as the top pick, that $50 bet would return a total of $1,150.

How do draft odds work?

Let’s take a closer look at how the odds work for the various types of bets you can place on NBA Draft 2020. For a player draft position bet, you may see something that looks like this:

  • James Bouknight over/under 9.5
  • Over: +110
  • Under: -140

For this bet you’re simply deciding if you think Bouknight will be off the board before or after the designated number. Odds will be posted on both sides and there may be some movement to watch based on market activity.

When the odds are negative, that indicates the favorite side, while positive odds point to the less likely of the two outcomes. For a $50 bet at +105 odds, the return would be $102.50. Furthermore, you’re looking at a return of $93.50 at -115 odds.

Next, let’s say we’re looking at the odds for the second overall choice, which may go something like this:

  • Jalen Green: -170
  • Evan Mobley: +170
  • Jalen Suggs: +650

It opens up the chance for a nice score if you anticipate the NBA Draft won’t go according to the script. For example, if Cunningham goes first and you placed a bet on Suggs to go second at +650 odds, you’d be looking at a nice return.

One other note to keep in mind on NBA Draft odds: Take the time to shop around at a few different sportsbooks. All odds aren’t created equal, so you may be able to find more attractive prices on the most interesting players.

As an example, let’s say one book is offering Mobley at second overall at +170 odds. You do a little digging and find odds on Mobley for the same bet at +180. Just like that, you’re looking at an even better potential return for just seconds of effort.

2021 NBA Draft order

The official order for NBA Draft is set but there’s never a shortage of wheeling and dealing on draft night. Here’s what the first-round order looks like as of July 22:

1Detroit Pistons
2Houston Rockets
3Cleveland Cavaliers
4Toronto Raptors
5Orlando Magic
6Oklahoma City Thunder
7Golden State Warriors (from Minnesota)
8Orlando Magic (from Chicago)
9Sacramento Kings
10New Orleans Pelicans
11Charlotte Hornets
12San Antonio Spurs
13Indiana Pacers
14Golden State Warriors
15Washington Wizards
16Oklahoma City Thunder (from Boston)
17Memphis Grizzlies
18Oklahoma City (from Miami via the LA Clippers, Philadelphia, and Phoenix)
19New York Knicks
20Atlanta Hawks
21New York Knicks (from Dallas)
22Los Angeles Lakers
23Houston (from Portland)
24Houston (from Milwaukee)
25Los Angeles Clippers
26Denver Nuggets
27Brooklyn Nets
28Philadelphia 76ers
29Phoenix Suns
30Utah Jazz

How does the NBA Draft work?

The NBA Draft is a two-round event that is held over a single night. While the results of the regular season and playoffs have a bearing on how things play out, there’s also another big wrinkle that impacts the proceedings.

Prior to draft night, the NBA Draft Lottery is held. This is a practice that was first implemented in 1985. The theory behind it suggests that this will prevent teams from “tanking,” as in going out of their way to post horrible records in lost seasons.

The non-playoff teams are included in the lottery. Each squad receives a certain number of balls based on their position in the standings. Theoretically, the worst squad in the league has the best shot at the top spot and so on.

The remainder of the draft position is determined by how teams finish. Trades can impact the overall order, so there are often cases in which teams with solid overall records receive lofty spots or in which clubs end up with multiple selections in a round.

To be eligible for the draft, players must be at least 19 years old that year. While most players chosen have gone the college basketball route, international players are also selected along with the occasional high schooler a year removed.

When & where is the 2021 NBA Draft?

Here are the current details on NBA Draft 2021:

  • Date: Thursday, July 29
  • Location: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
  • TV: ESPN
  • Streaming: Yahoo
  • Rounds: Two

NBA Draft betting tips

As the NBA Draft approaches, you’ll want to spend some time researching before diving in and placing your wagers. This applies even if you have a good sense of this year’s field of prospects. While players may light it up in the college or international ranks, that doesn’t always mean they grade out well by pro basketball standards.

Here are a few more tips to keep in mind for NBA basketball draft betting:

  1. Study the futures market: In addition to providing odds for this year’s prospects, the futures market also serves as a handy research tool. By examining the odds, you can quickly get a sense of the public perception of players entering the draft. While the futures market isn’t always spot-on, it does make for a useful tool.
  2. Understand team needs: After studying the field for a bit and running through some mock drafts, there’s a good chance you’ll have a sense of how players stack up on an overall basis. However, don’t just assume the draft will fall in that order. Examine the teams’ needs, which may provide better clues on how it will all shake out.
  3. Research players by position: When it comes to the top five or so players in the NBA Draft, there can be a good consensus on which players fall into that group. It becomes less clear after that. One thing that can help you sort through the noise is to go through each position category. When you can spot the best players by their position, that enables you to align with team needs.

NBA Draft trends

To further understand how NBA Draft could shake out, it can help to have a sense of the overall trends from recent drafts. Here are some nuggets of intel from the last three years.

  • Freshmen dominate top 10: Out of 40 top-10 picks over the last four years, a whopping 28 have been freshmen. Last year was the low water mark with five, but it was six, eight and nine the years before, respectively. This time around, most of the top choices in the futures market are freshmen again.
  • Don’t overhype international players: Sticking with the Top 10 over the last four years, only five of the 40 potential picks for those slots played international basketball instead of going the college route. In 2019, the first international player wasn’t off the board until Pick 15. In 2020, though, three international players went in the top 10.
  • Look for strength by position: Themes can develop during draft years in which specific position groups are quite strong. For example, five of the Top 10 picks in 2017 were PGs.

Recent NBA lottery picks

NBA Draft night is an exciting event. In the aftermath, scores of basketball pundits and industry types will attempt to grade teams based on how they fared.

It’s certainly fair to judge how it all shook out based on conventional wisdom, but the reality is that the story of the ultimate success or failure of a draft year can’t be told right away. Outside of the exceptional players who jump right in and light up the NBA, there’s often a transition period that picks and teams will go through.

On that note, let’s take a stroll down memory lane by looking at the top five picks for the last four drafts.

2020 NBA Draft

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia
  2. Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman, C, Memphis
  3. Charlotte Hornets: LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawarra Hawks
  4. Chicago Bulls: Patrick Williams, SF, Florida St.
  5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Isaac Okoro, SF, Auburn

2019 NBA Draft

  1. New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson, PF, Duke
  2. Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant, PG, Murray State
  3. New York Knicks: RJ Barrett, SG/SF, Virginia
  4. Los Angeles Lakers: De’andre Hunter, SF, Virginia
  5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt

2018 NBA Draft

  1. Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona
  2. Sacramento Kings: Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke
  3. Atlanta Hawks: Luka Doncic, PG/SF, Real Madrid
  4. Memphis Grizzlies: Jaren Jackson Jr., PF, Michigan State
  5. Dallas Mavericks: Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma

2017 NBA Draft

  1. Philadelphia 76ers: Markelle Fultz, PG/SG, Washington
  2. Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA
  3. Boston Celtics: Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke
  4. Phoenix Suns: Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas
  5. Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky

Which states allow betting on NBA Draft?

The legal sports betting environment continues to change at a rapid pace. The US Supreme Court put the matter in the hands of the individual states to decide for themselves in May 2018. A number of states have done just that, and business is booming. Other states are set to be up and running soon, while another group remains a work in progress.

Here’s a look at the current list of states where you can legally and safely bet on basketball and the NBA Draft online:

State Online / AppRetail
Arizona Sports BettingYesYes
Colorado Sports BettingYesYes
Connecticut Sports BettingYesYes
Florida Sports BettingYesYes
Illinois Sports BettingYesYes
Indiana Sports BettingYesYes
Iowa Sports BettingYesYes
Michigan Sports BettingYesYes
New Hampshire Sports BettingYesYes
New Jersey Sports BettingYesYes
New York Sports BettingYesYes
Pennsylvania Sports BettingYesYes
Tennessee Sports BettingYesNo
Virginia Sports BettingYesNo
West Virginia Sports BettingYesYes
Wyoming Sports BettingYesYes

Best apps for betting on NBA Draft

You can bet on the NBA Draft via a sportsbook app as well. Here are our recommendations on the best places to place your basketball bets:

draftkings live betting app1. DraftKings Sportsbook – $50 free bet

Use DraftKings Sportsbook online in: AZ, CO, CT, IL, IN, IA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, PA, TN, VA, WV & WY

DraftKings made its bones in the world of daily fantasy sports (DFS), but has emerged as a market leader in sports betting as well. A great platform and a wide range of betting markets are among its biggest highlights.

For the NBA Draft you can expect to find odds for the 1st overall pick and a slew of added props including:

  • Top 3 in exact order
  • Team to select specific player
  • Over/under for draft position per player

Claim your bonus at DraftKings in legal states here:

2. FanDuel Sportsbook – Up to $1,000 risk-free bet

Use FanDuel Sportsbook online in: AZ, CO, CT, IL, IN, IA, MI, NJ, NY, PA, TN, VA & WV

FanDuel is another DFS titan that is racing to the top of the charts in sports betting. The user-friendly interface is a huge hit with its users, and the company isn’t shy on the promotional front either. FanDuel and DraftKings are typically lockstep when it comes to betting markets for the Big 4 sports so expect a similar set of NBA Draft markets to DK.

3. BetMGM Sportsbook – Up to $1,000 bonus

Use BetMGM Sportsbook online in: AZ, CO, DC, IN, IA, MI, MS, NJ, NV, NY, PA, TN, VA, WV & WY

The MGM brand is a recognized leader in the world of gaming, and the company aims to do the same for its sports betting offering. Years of know-how have translated into a product that’s attracting scores of users. BetMGM will offer similar NBA Draft markets to other sportsbooks.

To get started with each of these apps, click on our exclusive links to create an account. After entering a few simple details, you can complete the registration process. From there, download the sports betting app for your device by following the instructions on-site.

It’s a quick and painless process that takes just a couple of minutes of your time. Once it’s all set, you’ll be ready to take advantage of what these operators have to offer online and via your iPhone or Android phone or tablet.


A mock NBA Draft attempts to project how the real draft will shake out. You’ll find mock drafts throughout the season and in advance of the draft. They can be fun to create and track, and are a helpful research tool. Remember that the actual proceedings can break much differently than even the best prognosticator sees it.

The NBA Draft lottery helps to determine the order of picks at the top of the draft. It was first implemented in 1985 to prevent teams from throwing in the towel. Teams who don’t make it to the postseason are assigned lottery balls based on their record. The balls are then selected lottery-style to determine the order. The worst team has the best shot at the top pick and so on.

The NBA Draft is a two-round event held over a single night. The current format has been in place since 1989. Prior to that, it was seven rounds from 1985 and onward, and typically 10 rounds in the decade or so preceding that.

ESPN will broadcast the NBA Draft. Those looking for streaming options can catch the event on Yahoo Sports. Numerous sports outlets will likely provide web coverage of picks in real-time, such as ESPN, CBS Sports and NBA.com.

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