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With a prohibitive favorite at No. 1 in the 2021 NBA draft, the real betting intrigue starts after Cade Cunningham

The Oklahoma State star is the overwhelming favorite, but there's plenty of markets behind him. There's an over/under on where Villanova's Jeremiah Robinson-Earl will go.

Cade Cunningham averaged 20.1 points per game for Oklahoma State. He is expected to be the first OSU player ever selected No. 1 overall in an NBA Draft.
Cade Cunningham averaged 20.1 points per game for Oklahoma State. He is expected to be the first OSU player ever selected No. 1 overall in an NBA Draft.Read moreCharlie Riedel / AP

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski threw a bomb out there on social media Monday afternoon, stating that the Detroit Pistons might consider not taking Cade Cunningham with the No. 1 pick, which would be an absolute stunner.

“Detroit isn’t fully there yet on committing to Cunningham with their first overall choice,” tweeted the man also known as Woj.

Wait a minute. Really?

If the Pistons don’t take Oklahoma State’s Cunningham, Adam Silver should send them back to Fort Wayne. As of Monday afternoon, Cunningham was -6000 at FanDuel to be taken No. 1, -8000 at DraftKings, -10000 at PointsBet.

The real start to the draft

“The main talking points, as far as sports betting, start at pick No. 2,” said Jay Croucher, head of trading for PointsBet. “That’s going to shape the draft, whether Jalen Green goes second or Evan Mobley does. That’s where we’re seeing a lot of activity.”

The action is expected to be lighter because of such a heavy chalk like Cunningham at the top of the draft, according to some in the industry. Ed Salmons, of the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, said their activity was mostly on Lakers’ props. But it’s early in the week.

For the No. 2 pick, PointsBet has Green -300, Mobley +200.

“Cade Cunningham is such a huge favorite no one wants to lay the price,” said Tom Gable, sportsbook director at the Borgata. “We have a number of players up with over/under draft positions, and that’s where you will see the action.”

» NBA Draft odds: DraftKings | FanDuel | PointsBet

History lesson

There was more intrigue last season as Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball swapped being favorites for the first overall pick leading up to the draft. Cunningham at -10000 is impossible to bet, but it’s not an unheard of line.

Zion Williamson (2019), Anthony Davis (2012), John Wall (2010), and Blake Griffin (2009) are some recent overwhelming favorites. Croucher also pointed out Trevor Lawrence was -10000 when Jacksonville took him at the top of this year’s NFL draft.

Trifecta, superfecta

DraftKings has a prop on the top 3 in order, a basketball trifecta, if you will. PointsBet pushes things further with superfecta markets. Cunningham-Green-Mobley-Jalen Suggs is even money (+100), but they need to come out exactly in that order.

Cunningham-Mobley-Green-Suggs is +400.

Where ya goin’?

Then there are the over/under markets for draft position for individual players. FanDuel has Moses Moody’s overall position at 11.5 with the juice heavy toward the under (-152) as opposed to over (+104). Our Marc Narducci has him going to New Orleans at No. 10 because the “Pelicans need all the defensive help they can get, and Moody is a strong 3-and-D player.”

» READ MORE: Marc Narducci's mock draft

This is where Narducci, if he was a bettor (and he is not) would be well served to shop around. Hop on over to DraftKings, where Moody is +155 to be drafted in the top 10. Who knows what’s going to happen, but the sharps who make a living analyzing this stuff always look for such edges.

Locally speaking

Villanova’s Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is likely the only area player to be selected. PointsBet’s line for Robinson-Earl, who led the Wildcats with 15.7 points per game as a sophomore, is draft pick 39.5.

Wherever he goes, Robinson-Earl will give the Wildcats a drafted player for the fifth consecutive year. That’s a first in the storied program’s history.

The final word

“There’s a lot of value that’s out there with the draft if you know what you’re doing,” said Croucher, “because the prices fluctuate all over the place in the weeks leading up.”