The 2023 NBA Draft brings back a classic feature of draft night: Which players will be taken first? We know that the No. 1 overall pick to the San Antonio Spurs will be Victor Wembanyama, who will leave French basketball to pursue his NBA dream. After that, it’s a lot less clear.

You will get plenty of props at in which you are asked: which player of two will go first? Let’s tackle four and see which offer the best value.


Amen Thompson (-270) or Ausar Thompson (+210)?

Amen is picked multiple spots ahead of Ausar in several different draft projections. This brings up a fundamental point: If you see players separated by only one spot in potential draft projections, and it’s clear that the player projected higher is not an absolute lock (the way Wembanyama is at No. 1 in this draft), you should strongly consider taking the underdog for the plus money. If, however, projections have players separated by at least two spots and ideally three, you should take the favored player. Amen Thompson is a heavy favorite here, but at -270, the price is pretty reasonable. It’s not -350 or -400. You don’t have to say any prayers. Just choose “Amen” and get decent value.

Anthony Black (-190) or Taylor Hendricks (+150)?

A number of projections have Black just one spot ahead of Hendricks. This could be at No. 8 and No. 9, but it might also be at No. 9 and No. 10. At any rate, with just one spot separating these players in the projections, taking Hendricks at the plus-money price is worth the risk. It is not viewed as a certainty that Black will go at No. 8 in the draft. One should expect a certain degree of fluidity in the back end of the top 10, so Hendricks is a reasonable play. The point of emphasis is to differentiate between closely bunched projections on the draft board and situations in which there are several slots of separation between any two players.

Rayan Rupert (-170) or Gregory Jackson (+140)?

This NBA Draft drama applies to the back end of the first round, as opposed to the lottery (the top 14 picks). Rupert is appearing multiple spots ahead of Jackson in a number of projections, so according to the principle that you should base your selections on whether they are multiple spots apart or just one spot apart, the right play is on the favorite, Rupert, for what is a pretty reasonable price. If you see some reshuffling of projections which puts these two players in back-to-back spots – meaning they are no longer separated by two or more positions – you should reconsider your play. If the information and analysis provided leads you to think there is real and substantial separation between Rupert and Jackson, stick with Rupert.

Jordan Hawkins (-115) or Keyonte George (-115)?

This is priced basically as a toss-up, but there are some experts who have George going four spots ahead of Hawkins. It could be that Hawkins is an equally good or better player, but part of the reality of a draft in any sport is that a team might have a specific need to fill instead of going for the best player available. Based on what teams need with the 14th through 18th picks in the first round of the draft, George appears to be a player who will be more acutely needed than Hawkins. Take George as a result.

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