The 2019 NBA Draft will be this Thursday night at 7 ET at the Barclays Center in New York. The class is generally seen to be one of the weaker groups of players in the past several seasons, but predraft predictions often don’t go exactly according to plan.
The key piece of certainty is that the New Orleans Pelicans will select Zion Williamson with the No. 1 pick. Following that, there is a dropoff in player quality, and many teams in the first round have been rumored to be looking to either trade up or down according to how they value players differently.
Let’s look at three prop bets you can make before Thursday night that could have a strong payout. None of them are events that are supposedly favored to happen, but they are more likely than many people might think.
Best NBA Draft Prop Bets
Tyler Herro Draft Pick Over 17.5 (+150 at BetOnline)
Herro is a freshman combo guard out of Kentucky. His calling card is most definitely shooting, as he has a very pretty stroke that he used to average 14 points for the Wildcats this season.
I do think he has plenty of concerns that teams drafting in the teens should be wary of, however. Herro’s wingspan of 6’3.25” is extremely short for any NBA player, much less someone who probably will be asked to guard shooting guards in the NBA. He is 192 pounds with a 7.1 percent body fat, both uninspiring numbers. Herro was a respectable defender at the NCAA level, but I worry that he is not quick enough to defend NBA point guards or big enough to deter NBA wings.
On offense, Herro is primarily a shooter, but he also shot a very mediocre 35.5 percent from the college three-point line as a freshman. His strength is more as a pull-up midrange shooter, as he needs to get better off the catch behind the arc to become a capable role player at the next level.
Basically, Herro could turn into a valuable role player in a best-case scenario, but he will probably need to play with others who can defend and make plays around him. The middling teams drafting between picks 11 and 20 may not have enough of those guys to draft him.
Under 2.5 Duke players drafted in the Top 10 (+411 at Bookmaker)
Two players from Duke University are total locks to be drafted in the top 10 of the draft: Zion Williamson will be selected first by the New Orleans Pelicans, and R.J. Barrett is extremely unlikely to go after the New York Knicks and their third pick.
That third player would be Cam Reddish. Reddish is mostly seen as getting drafted between the No. 5 and No. 10 picks, but don’t be surprised if he slips a bit. The 6’8” swingman has the measurements and athleticism to be a top-10 or top-5 pick, but his basketball IQ showed a ton of improvement in his freshman season at Duke.
Reddish really struggled to find his offensive role at Duke, posting a 49.9 true-shooting percentage despite playing with Williamson and Barrett, two of the best on-ball players in the nation. He turned the ball over on 16.5 percent of his used possessions, which was by far the highest mark of Duke’s top six minute-getters. He wasn’t really effective on or off the ball.
On defense, Reddish has strong versatility. However, his motor is questionable. Combining that with all of his red flags on offense, would it really be that surprising to see him fall out of the top 10?
Over 0.5 Gonzaga players drafted in the top 10 (+289 at Bookmaker)
We are looking at two players from Gonzaga who have a shot to work their way into the top 10: Brandon Clarke and Rui Hachimura. The two players were the driving forces behind the Bulldogs being the No. 1-ranked team for several weeks of the college basketball season.
Hachimura could sneak into the top 10 on a team looking to find a small or power forward of the future. While I don’t think these would be particularly good picks, the Chicago Bulls or Washington Wizards could consider him at No. 7 and No. 9, respectively.
Clarke is already 22 years old and has a very ordinary wingspan (6’8”) for someone 6’8” who is also looking to play power forward at the NBA level. However, his combination of in-game instincts, smarts and athleticism is just excellent. He is going to be a very good NBA defender, and on offense, he is at least knowledgeable enough to stay within his lane as a play finisher. He’s a guy who can play in a variety of different lineups, which makes him someone most squads in the bottom half of the top 10 could take a look at.
Overall, neither Hachimura nor Clarke is necessarily likely to crack the top 10 but they are both talents who are close to that range. With the trade buzz happening and the unexpected picks that happen every year, this is a bet with very achievable reward potential.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.