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NBA draft betting: Who's favored to go near the top in a mysterious year?

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The 2024 NBA Draft is considered one of the weakest in modern NBA history. With few proven star prospects, there's more intrigue and mystery at the top of the board than in years past.

The draft begins Wednesday and will conclude with the second round Thursday. Let's dive into who's favored to be selected with the top five picks and the projected draft positions for some notable names.

No. 1 pick odds (Hawks)

Player Odds
Zaccharie Risacher -250
Donovan Clingan +200
Alexandre Sarr +600
Stephon Castle +4000
Reed Sheppard +7500

All odds via theScore Bet

It's rare for mystery to surround the No. 1 pick two days before the draft, but the Hawks are doing their due diligence without a clear top prospect. The three names in contention are Alex Sarr, Zaccharie Risacher, and Donovan Clingan.

Last week, Sarr was favored to go first overall. However, the buzz surrounding Risacher grew louder, and mock drafts predicted Atlanta would select the latter.

Sarr and Risacher are both from France. Sarr is considered a raw development project with the intangibles to be an elite defensive big but lacks a trustworthy offensive skill set. The Hawks aren't in complete rebuild mode, so they'll likely favor ready-now players like Risacher or Clingan.

Risacher is an elite shooter and willing defender, filling the role of a complementary wing for Atlanta.

Clingan is reportedly still in the mix as a traditional center who can serve the role of a rim-protector and rim-runner. He also brings a winning pedigree as a back-to-back national champion at UConn.

No. 2 pick odds (Wizards)

Player Odds
Alexandre Sarr -500
Zaccharie Risacher +450
Donovan Clingan +1300
Reed Sheppard +2500
Stephon Castle +2500

The Wizards aren't close to competing. Washington had the NBA's second-worst record and will be a regular at the top of the draft for the foreseeable future. They can afford to take a raw prospect with a potentially high ceiling. Sarr fits the bill.

Washington had the league's third-worst defense and allowed the second-most points in the paint. Sarr's strength is on the defensive end. He's a natural rim-protector standing at 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-4 wingspan but also has the athleticism and mobility to switch onto guards.

No. 3 pick odds (Rockets)

Player Odds
Reed Sheppard -135
Donovan Clingan +300
Zaccharie Risacher +650
Alexandre Sarr +1000
Stephon Castle +1000
Matas Buzelis +1400
Nikola Topic +2800
Tidjane Salaun +2800
Rob Dillingham +3300

The Rockets snuck into the top three despite finishing the campaign with a .500 record. Houston should expect to compete in a loaded West next season with a solid blend of veterans and young pieces.

There's a chance Houston would try to trade back in the draft to acquire an experienced player rather than develop another rookie. However, if the Rockets use the pick, they must select a player who can help them win now. Reed Sheppard is the draft's best shooter and should immediately become a shooting threat at the next level.

Sheppard led the country in 3-point percentage, drilling 52% of his attempts. He'd be a solid fit with the Rockets, who ranked in the bottom third in 3-point percentage last season.

Clingan has been linked to Houston, but pairing him with Alperen Sengun would create wonky spacing with two non-shooting bigs.

No. 4 pick odds (Spurs)

Player Odds
Stephon Castle +175
Reed Sheppard +350
Zaccharie Risacher +375
Matas Buzelis +425
Donovan Clingan +1500
Alexandre Sarr +1800
Dalton Knecht +2000
Rob Dillingham +2000
Ronald Holland +2000

The Spurs could trade up to draft Sheppard, who can serve a larger role than only a spot-up shooter. Although undersized, he has the skills to flourish in an on-ball role. Sheppard's shooting is his calling card, but he's an underrated playmaker, averaging 4.5 assists in his lone season at Kentucky.

San Antonio needs a point guard. It could target Stephon Castle if Sheppard is gone. Victor Wembanyama is a generational talent, but the Spurs struggled to feed him the ball without a true point guard running the show.

Castle had an inconsistent freshman season at UConn, where he sacrificed playmaking duties for an off-ball role. However, he's clearly expressed that point guard is his true position.

He showed flashes as a playmaker and tough finisher, but he must improve his 3-pointer after shooting 26% from deep this season. He might be worth the development project for the Spurs as they look to find the right pieces to grow with Wembanyama.

No. 5 pick odds (Pistons)

Player Odds
Matas Buzelis +135
Cody Williams +400
Stephon Castle +500
Dalton Knecht +1000
Donovan Clingan +1000
Reed Sheppard +1000
Rob Dillingham +1100
Ronald Holland +1100

The Pistons had the NBA's worst record, fired their head coach last week, and have a new general manager running the show. Cade Cunningham, who will likely sign a max extension this summer, is the only surefire piece on Detroit's roster.

However, one of the league's youngest teams has promising players to develop, including Ausar Thompson, Jaden Ivey, and Jalen Duren. At this point, the Pistons should draft the best available player rather than a positional need.

Matas Buzelis is a brash point forward with guard-like playmaking qualities and big-like defensive intuitions.

The G League Ignite star shot 27% from three, creating questions about his offensive repertoire. Drawing comparisons to Franz Wagner, Buzelis could develop into a well-rounded player if he improves his shooting.

Cody Williams - brother of Thunder budding star Jalen Williams - is another name to monitor. Williams' athleticism allows him to efficiently get to the rim and finish at a high level. He could fill the Pistons' void as a dynamic wing scorer.

Draft position props

Player O/U Draft Position
Reed Sheppard 3.5
Donovan Clingan 3.5
Matas Buzelis 5.5
Stephon Castle 5.5
Dalton Knecht 9.5
Rob Dillingham 9.5
Devin Carter 10.5
Nikola Topic 10.5
Jared McCain 15.5
Zach Edey 16.5
Bronny James 43.5

With Risacher and Sarr projected first and second overall, Clingan's landing spot is unknown. He's considered a top prospect, but the Spurs and Rockets don't present good fits with a center as each of their best players. If Clingan is drafted in the top three, it's likely because a team traded up to select him.

College basketball fans fell in love with sharpshooter Dalton Knecht's scoring prowess. He shot 42% on catch-and-shoot attempts at Tennessee. He's a suspect defender but is worth the gamble for a win-now team.

Rob Dillingham's stock slightly dipped over the last year after an up-and-down freshman season at Kentucky. Although ESPN projects him to go to the Spurs at No. 8, most mock drafts have him falling outside the top 10.

Zach Edey dominated college basketball as a traditional low-post center, but there's no room for that in today's NBA. He can't shoot and is slow-footed, creating questions about his ability to earn consistent minutes. In a normal draft, Edey wouldn't be a lottery pick, but he's projected to land between Nos. 12 and 15 in this year's feeble draft.

Sam Oshtry is a sports betting writer at theScore. You can follow him on X @soshtry for more betting coverage.

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