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Value Props for the 2017 NBA Draft

Nigel Williams-Goss at Findlay Prep
Nigel Williams-Goss at Findlay Prep (Bryan Horowitz [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0])

The NBA Draft takes place on Thursday night (June 22nd). The champion Warriors don’t have a single pick, which is only fair, since they’re the one team in the league that doesn’t need any new talent.

You can expect a whirlwind of trade activity over the next 48 hours. This is regarded by experts as a talented and deep class, and a lot of teams see the potential to steer their ships toward a brighter horizon. It’s going to be pure entertainment, and you can, as usual, add to the excitement by laying a little coin on some draft props.

While many bettors wager on the draft purely to make the proceedings a little more interesting, there’s money to be made. Here are the smart plays for tomorrow night.


Harry Giles (Duke) Draft Position: Over 15.5

You have to lay nearly -200 to bet that Giles won’t be a top-15 pick, but the Duke center suffered through an injury-plagued freshman season in Durham and there are several red flags. Once the top recruit in the country and the projected no. 1-overall pick, Giles’ body is failing him. He’s already had three knee surgeries and, when he returned from the latest, he wasn’t overly effective in his limited time under Coach K.

The biggest pro for Giles has always been his freak athleticism. But there are serious questions about whether he will ever be fully healthy again. He certainly didn’t look explosive at Duke, and he doesn’t have the outside game to play power forward, so he is limited to center. In a league where executives get assessed quickly, Giles has Greg Oden bust potential.

He probably would have been drafted in the top three if players had been allowed to go from high school to the NBA 12 months ago. Now he has big upside, but huge risk too. Some team will take a chance on him in the first round, but it’s more likely to be in the late teens or 20s than the lottery.

Number Of Gonzaga Players Drafted: Under 1.5

Zach Collins is a lottery pick. Lock him in. Hitting the over depends on whether Nigel Williams-Goss gets picked towards the end of the second round, and the odds are right around even money. NWG has all the intangibles and a solid resume: he was a top high-school recruit; he was the point guard and undisputed leader on a team that played for the NCAA title; and, at 6’4, he has NBA size.

On the flip side, the soon-to-be 23-year-old is ancient (by NBA standards) and is not athletic (by NBA standards). Seven of the final 13 picks in the 2016 draft were foreign draft-and-stash players, and five of the last seven off the board in 2015 were international. Teams look for upside at the end of the draft, not a possible 11th man. Williams-Goss should be a free agent on Friday morning.

Jonathan Isaac (FSU) Draft Position: Over 6.5

Isaac might be prototypical big for the “new” NBA, which values length and athleticism over pure size. Though he’s 6’10, he has some guard-like skills and can play wing or in the post. The negatives on the lanky, young Isaac are that he’s still raw and needs time to fill out. He’s being drafted on body type, potential, and extreme athleticism.

Isaac is not in the consensus top-five (Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum, De’Aaron Fox). But he’s next on many draft boards and going to Orlando at no. 6 would be a good fit, so this is by no means a lock. That said, getting almost 2/1 that the Magic opt for Malik Monk or Dennis Smith provides value. There’s also a chance a team like Dallas makes a swap with Orlando in order to move up and grab Smith. The divisive NC State product has the insanely high upside to motivate that type of move.

At -200, Isaac falling to the Timberwolves at no. 7 provides value.

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Dave gave up on his athletic career at the tender age of 14 due to a lack of ability. Thankfully, that wasn't the end of the road for Dave and sports, however. He has been a sports journalist for 15 years, broadcasting and writing about college and pro sports for outlets across the U.S. and Canada.