NBA draft betting: With picks being tipped off beforehand, books have to take down odds

·3 min read

Betting on a draft isn't the same as betting on a game, obviously. 

In a game, anything can theoretically happen. There's not one person making a decision on who wins or loses and by how much. For the draft, decisions can be made weeks or months ahead of time. If the Detroit Pistons decide to take a player at No. 1 overall, nothing will stop that. It's a little dangerous in the betting realm if that decision gets out, or someone receives inside information, before books can take down the odds. 

The old topic of pick-tipping came up again on Thursday many hours before the NBA draft. The first few picks were tipped off, and BetMGM had to take down odds that might have drawn some action as the draft approached. 

Hopefully you got your bets in. 

First three picks were tipped off

At 1:37 p.m. Eastern, about six-and-a-half hours before the NBA draft started, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that the first pick was official. Barring a last-minute trade, the Pistons would take Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham. 

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That's not a huge deal. Cunningham was the presumptive pick for a while, and his -5000 odds at BetMGM reflected that. 

But then other picks started to be tipped. 

Wojnarowski reported that the Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers "continue to trend" toward taking Jalen Green and Evan Mobley with the second and third picks of the draft. Even though those players were favored to go in those spots, BetMGM took down all odds for which players would go with the first through fifth picks of the draft. Bettors could still wager on players' draft position, but most of the odds that were still posted were for players who were not top-10 prospects (and therefore, not as interesting to casual bettors). It's much tougher to tip picks far ahead of time if they're outside of the top 10. 

Most other books also took down prop bets for at least the first three picks. 

A report said Cade Cunningham was locked into the first overall pick, and sportsbooks scrambled after that. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
A report said Cade Cunningham was locked into the first overall pick, and sportsbooks scrambled after that. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Tipping picks a controversial issue

Tipping picks has been a hot-button topic for years. Some fans hate it, wanting to see the drama unfold on television. Reporters defend their right to do their jobs and tweet out picks when they are tipped off. It's a circular argument that never gets solved. 

While it's a bigger deal around the NFL draft, it's part of the NBA draft too. Memphis Grizzlies star guard Ja Morant was complaining about it long before the draft started.  

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With sports betting legal in many states, it's more than just an entertainment issue. While sportsbooks don't do a ton of handle on draft props, they still do have odds up for a long time. When there's a tipped pick long ahead of time, they're vulnerable until the odds go off the board. 

The subject of tipping off picks on social media won't go away anytime soon. It's something sportsbooks are well aware of too. 

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