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How Much Do NBA Draft Lottery Odds Lag Actual Odds

Mark Strotman for Bookies.com

Mark Strotman  | 4 mins

How Much Do NBA Draft Lottery Odds Lag Actual Odds

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The NBA Draft Lottery is just one week away and the stakes couldn’t be higher. So, naturally, the sportsbooks have posted odds on which team will get the No. 1 pick.

For the first time since 2012, when Anthony Davis was at the top of every team’s draft board, there’s a consensus pick at the top. Duke freshman Zion Williamson is the prize that 14 teams are hoping to win when the ping pong balls begin bouncing on May 14 in Chicago. He’s arguably the best NBA prospect and most marketable athlete since LeBron James in 2003.

He’ll change the course of not only a team’s on-court performance but the franchise as a whole. There’s a reason he’s -2500 to be selected as the first pick on 888Sport, and even those odds seem a bit low.

But who will get the chance to draft Williamson? The NBA instituted changes to the Lottery that will go into effect this year. It evened out the probabilities across the 14 non-playoff teams to deter teams from actively tanking. Of course, with Williamson as the top pick, teams did everything they could to be one of the top 3 teams, who will each receive a 14 percent chance of winning the Lottery.

That said, the odds at PointsBet are definitely skewed from the actual probability of which team will get the No. 1 pick.

NBA Draft Lottery 2019 Odds

Team Chance Betting OddsImplied odds

Given those numbers above, all NBA betting fans can do is look at the math to see if there is any real value out there. The Lottery isn’t rigged – sorry, Frozen Envelope truthers – so betting on this will come down to which way the ping pong balls bounce. Here are the teams with odds most in favor of the bettor:

Knicks, Suns, Cavs

No teams have better actual odds than their expected odds, of course, but the three teams with the best chance of landing the top pick come closest and are almost identical, with just a difference of 14 points between implied and actual offs. These three teams each have a 14 percent chance of winning the Lottery, the best odds among the 14 teams.

It’s worth noting that the team with the best odds entering the Lottery has won the Lottery each of the last four seasons. And the last time a team came from outside the top-3 to win the Lottery was the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014.


The difference for the Bulls compared to the top three teams is a little wider (-14 compared to -50), but that gap is also much smaller than it is compared to the No. 5 Atlanta Hawks (-127). That means the Bulls and their 10.5% chance of winning the Lottery provide pretty good value compared to Atlanta and especially the Wizards’ 9.0% odds (-211).

Pelicans and Mavericks

Say, you are predicting a long shot. The Pelicans, Mavericks and Grizzlies all finished in a three-way tie for the 7th worst record in the NBA (33-49). Despite that, PointsBet has the Grizzlies listed at +1200 to win the Lottery and the Pelicans and Mavericks at +1400 despite each of them having the same six percent chance of hearing their name called.

The actual odds difference (-167) is smaller for New Orleans and Dallas than it is for the No. 6 Wizards (-211).

About the Author

Mark Strotman for Bookies.com
Mark Strotman
Mark is a veteran sports betting journalist who has covered the Bulls and the NBA since 2012. His work has appeared on ESPN.com, FoxSports.com, The Chicago Tribune and Yahoo Sports. He regularly provides NBA betting picks, as well as in-depth sportsbook reviews and the latest promo codes for all the major sports gambling operators, including Caesars Sportsbook, BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel and more.