NBA betting: One longer shot to win draft lottery getting almost 2/3 of the money bet
The NBA probably doesn't fix the draft lottery (insert the Patrick Ewing envelope theories here), and it really isn't fixing it for the small market Indiana Pacers. Or so you'd think.
So what do bettors know?
BetMGM has odds on which team will win Tuesday's draft lottery, which will be remembered forever as the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes. One team is going to land the rights to a potential franchise-changing player, and it's all at the whim of some pingpong balls.
Bettors believe it'll be the Pacers winning the top pick.
In quite a strange betting pattern, 64.7% of the money bet on who will win the lottery at BetMGM is on the Pacers. Six teams have more pingpong balls in the lottery.
Which team will win NBA draft lottery?
There isn't a ton of betting on the NBA draft lottery so one or two big bets can swing that handle percentage. Still, two-thirds of the money on the Pacers is odd.
The Pacers have a 6.8% of winning the lottery, and are +1200 odds at BetMGM. You need to win a 12-to-1 bet about 7.7% of the time to break even, so it's not an odds play.
Only 9.1% of the tickets are on the Pacers, so some big bets are pushing up the money. It's odd. Unlike actual draft props, there's no inside information on which pingpong ball will come up.
Perhaps an even more unusual betting pattern is on the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls are +5000 odds to win the lottery at BetMGM. Of the money bet in that market, 24.3% is on the Bulls. Of all the bets made, 27.3% are on the Bulls. If you believe in conspiracy theories, getting Wembanyama to the big market Bulls makes sense. Last week, the Chicago Blackhawks won the NHL draft lottery despite having worse odds than the Anaheim Ducks, and will draft mega-prospect Connor Bedard.
Most bettors think a similar thing will happen in the NBA despite the Bulls having just 1.8% odds to win the lottery. But the big bets are on the Pacers, for some reason.
Victor Wembanyama is presumed top pick
Wembanyama is -10000 to be the first pick of the draft. Just 17.5% of the tickets are on him being picked first, which means 82.5% of bettors are hoping for a crazy scenario in which Wembanyama isn't the first pick. Even at long odds, it seems like throwing away money.
Wembanyama is seen as a generational prospect, listed anywhere between 7-foot-2 and 7-foot-4 with the skills of a guard. He can handle, shoot and is a difference maker on the defensive end due to his wingspan.
Here are the chances of each lottery team getting the first pick, with the BetMGM odds:
Detroit Pistons 14%, +550
Houston Rockets 14%, +550
San Antonio Spurs 14%, +550
Charlotte Hornets 12.5%, +650
Portland Trail Blazers 10.5%, +800
Orlando Magic 9%, +900
Indiana Pacers 6.8%, +1200
Washington Wizards 6.7%, +1200
Utah Jazz 4.5%, +2000
Dallas Mavericks 3%, +3000
Chicago Bulls 1.8%, +5000
Oklahoma City Thunder 1.7%, +5000
Toronto Raptors 1%, +10000
New Orleans Pelicans 0.5%, +10000
One of those teams listed above will have their future change by getting the first pick and the chance to grab Wembanyama in late June. A few bettors are trying to anticipate which team will get lucky on Tuesday night. If it's the Pacers or Bulls, we'll wonder how those bettors knew.