Monday June 27, 2022

Residing a short drive off the Las Vegas Strip, professional sports bettor Bill Krackomberger shrugged off the inconvenience of soaring gas prices and raced over the Hoover Dam, across the Arizona state line. 

Knowing DraftKings’ Arizona online sportsbook offered better odds and higher betting limits, Krackomberger assessed the expense of his journey was worth his furious need to place a wise wager. 

His effort driven by the belief Duke power forward Paolo Banchero will be the first pick in Thursday’s NBA draft. 

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At times during the last month, Krackomberger has seen the 6-foot-10 Banchero listed as an 18/1 longshot to go first overall in the draft — staged at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, with the Orlando Magic owning the top pick. 

After first scoring a 16/1 bet on Banchero at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, Krackomberger watched the Mike Krzyzewski-coached product’s odds drop markedly around The Strip to the +240, where it stands at Tipico Sportsbook now. 

Before it reached that level, Krackomberger drove to Arizona three times, betting Banchero at 13/1, 10/1, and then again Wednesday — just for good measure. 

“I think I have a great bet,” he said. 

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Duke forward Paolo Banchero celebrates during an NCAA tournament game against Arkansas.

His reasoning was rooted in an in-depth mock draft he read, where the writers were discussing the attributes of Banchero and how smartly he fits on Orlando’s roster. 

Better than Auburn power forward Jabari Smith Jr., who stands as the current betting favorite to go No. 1 at -250, and surer than 7-foot Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren, who seems to be falling out of favor at +330. 

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USA TODAY Sports’ mock draft projects the 6-10, 220-pound Smith as the expected top choice: 

“Given this Magic front office’s draft history, they will give Chet Holmgren serious consideration, but also given injury issues with its previous draft picks, Orlando might be go with a safer yet still quality option in Smith,” USA TODAY report Jeff Zillgitt wrote. “He is a fantastic offensive player who can score off the dribble and with his jump shot – either from 3-point range or mid-range. At his size, he is difficult to defend. It will be tough for the Magic to pass on Smith because of his upside and potential to make an immediate impact.” 

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Auburn forward Jabari Smith (10) shoots a 3-pointer against Vanderbilt.

Yet, Krackomberger, founder of the betting service KrackWins.com and co-host of the WSN.com podcast “WiseKracks,” suggests, “There’s been great value on (Banchero), and the Magic really seem like they can use this kid from Duke.” 

While Tipico accepted earlier action on Banchero, after he helped lead the Blue Devils to the Final Four in Krzyzewski’s celebrated final season Caesars Sportsbook and others reported a swarm of late betting traffic on the 19-year-old from Seattle. 

In the USA TODAY Sports mock draft, Zillgitt explained Banchero is “perhaps the most NBA-ready player among the projected top five with his physical tools (size, strength, speed) and on-court skills. He can pass, handle the ball, drive to the basket and finish near the rim and possesses solid footwork. He can play off ball or as a lead guard.” 

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Just last week, Smith and Holmgren, who has been praised for his nimbleness and passing skill from a lanky frame, stood as -115 co-favorites at Caesars. 

But Banchero rocketed from 20/1 on June 9 to 2/1 on Wednesday. 

“It’s the same bettors (who’ve) been fading Smith before (who) have really zeroed in on Banchero,” said Eric Fenstermaker, Caesars Sportsbook’s senior trading manager. “It’s all one-way on Banchero compared to Holmgren, which means that Holmgren has really fallen out of the mix.” 

Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren reacts during a Sweet 16 game against Arkansas.

Caesars reports a staggering 8% of the NBA-related tickets and 15% of all NBA betting dollars have been on Banchero to go No. 1 since Sunday around noon in Las Vegas. 

Over that stretch, Banchero drew 43% of the first-pick wagers at Caesars, including a bettor from New Jersey who staked $5,000 on him at +275 to win $13,750. Another New Jersey bettor put $2,500 on Banchero at 12/1 last, positioning for a $30,000 win. 

“We kept moving (him) down and if they keep taking him that low, it’s probably a toss-up,” as to who’ll be the draft-deadline favorite to go No. 1, Fenstermaker said. 

Holmgren’s odds to go No. 3, meanwhile, have shortened from 30/1 to 20/1, and a Colorado bettor wagered $500 that Holmgren will be the No. 4 pick, which would reward him with a potential $40,000 payoff at 80/1 odds.

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