Is Betting The NBA Draft The Best Way To Hit A Longshot?

  • The 2024 NBA Draft featured many longshot bets that hit in reference to players' exact draft position.
  • Could arbitrage betting every pick up until profit pay out in the end or was it too random to try?

BROOKLYN - Before Wednesday's first round of the NBA Draft, everyone knew Zaccharie Risacher was the expected number 1 pick (-450 odds). Likewise, the number 2, 3, and 4 drafted, Alexandre Sarr, Reed Sheppard, and Stephon Castle, were favored in their position at -1200, -250, and -200 odds, respectively.

But the other 26 players drafted held underdog odds at NBA sportsbooks online that make us wonder, is betting the NBA Draft the best way to hit a longshot?

Some positions were rather locked in, with players being the top selection holding odds around +500 or less. However, half of the picks saw online sports betting odds of +1000 or longer. In some cases, these players were the third or fourth option, offering a real chance to hit a game-changer.

NBA Player's Exact Draft Pick Odds

Pick Player Team Odds
1st Overall Pick Zaccharie Risacher JL Bourg -450
2nd Overall Pick Alexandre Sarr Perth Wildcats -1200
3rd Overall Pick Reed Sheppard Kentucky -250
4th Overall Pick Stephon Castle Connecticut -200
5th Overall Pick Ron Holland G League +1800
6th Overall Pick Tidjane Salaun Cholet +300
7th Overall Pick Donovan Clingan Connecticut +330
8th Overall Pick Rob Dillingham Kentucky +900
9th Overall Pick Zach Edey Purdue +500
10th Overall Pick Cody Williams Colorado +750
11th Overall Pick Matas Buzelis G League +1500
12th Overall Pick Nikola Topic KK Crvena Zvezda +900
13th Overall Pick Devin Carter Providence +1100
14th Overall Pick Carlton Carrington Pittsburgh +1600
15th Overall Pick Kel'el Ware Baylor +800
16th Overall Pick Jared McCain Duke +750
17th Overall Pick Dalton Knecht Tennessee +2800
18th Overall Pick Tristan De Silva Colorado +1400
19th Overall Pick Ja'Kobe Walter Baylor +1100
20th Overall Pick Jaylon Tyson California +1200
21st Overall Pick Yves Missi Baylor +225
22nd Overall Pick DaRon Holmes Dayton +2000
23rd Overall Pick AJ Johnson Illawarra OFF THE BOARD
24th Overall Pick Kyshawn George Miami +1200
25th Overall Pick Pacome Dadiet Ratiopharm Ulm +1600
26th Overall Pick Dillon Jones Weber State +3300
27th Overall Pick Terrence Shannon Jr. Illinois +1200
28th Overall Pick Ryan Dunn Virginia +1800
29th Overall Pick Isaiah Collier USC +4000
30th Overall Pick Baylor Scheierman Creighton +500

While guessing these bets would be a challenge, one wonders how someone would do if they bet one less than the number of players listed up to the favorite. In other words, if a player is favored at +600, one could bet five players and still come out on top.

Take this example with the Toronto Raptors' pick at spot 19.

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19th Overall Pick Odds

  • Zach Edey (Purdue) +650
  • Kel'el Ware (Baylor) +900
  • Isaiah Collier (USC) +1000
  • Kyshawn George (Miami) +1000
  • Tristan De Silva (Colorado) +1000
  • Ja'Kobe Walter (Baylor) +1100

With Zach Edey favored in the position, bettors were given five other choices to bet before betting on Zach Edey became a detriment (assuming even bets across the board). In every scenario, an NBA betting follower would come out ahead.

Potential Payouts

  • Zach Edey: 1.5x
  • Kel'el Ware: 4x
  • Isaiah Collier: 5x
  • Kyshawn George: 5x
  • Tristan De Silva: 5x
  • Ja'Kobe Walter: 6x

With Ja'Kobe Walter being the selection, bettors would have profited six times their risk, cashing +1100 odds while losing 5 units in the process.

But is this possible to do across the board? If we followed the same process for every underdog pick, the NBA Draft betting payouts would have totaled -37.95 units for Day 1.

Conclusion: Betting the NBA Draft is a great opportunity to hit a longshot bet. However, selecting the most favored for every pick would have resulted in a loss of almost 40 units on the day! Because so many real money sports betting picks had the favorite from +500 to +650, a loss of four or five units per play was common.