The 2020 WNBA Draft will be a first for the league in a couple of ways. Not only will it be the first in the league’s history to be held remotely but it will also be the first that will see legal wagering upon its results.
According to a spokesperson, the West Virginia Lottery approved sports betting licensees’ requests to offer action on the event. And that means the West Virginia sports betting crowd can look forward to betting on the WNBA.
How to bet on the 2020 WNBA Draft at WV sportsbook
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic hasn’t canceled the event but it has altered the format. The league’s new Commissioner, Cathy Engelbert, will announce all picks live on ESPN on April 17 starting at 7 p.m. ET.
There will be no fans, guests, other media or prospects in attendance, however. A select number of prospects will join the broadcast remotely.
The league hasn’t announced which prospects will be part of the broadcast or how many prospects will join yet. Although team personnel will join the broadcast as well, the league hasn’t specified who that will be.
West Virginia’s brick-and-mortar sportsbooks are closed right now and most likely won’t re-open in time for this event. Fortunately, WV online betting apps are still open for business. There should still be options for bettors in the state, however.
Both BetMGM and FanDuel currently offer action on the draft’s first three picks. The smart bettors will favor the action on the second and third pick markets, however.
The WNBA Draft betting action starts in the second pick
The New York Liberty hold the first overall selection for the first time in franchise history this year. They have a chance to draft a historic talent.
Guard Sabrina Ionescu is the most accomplished NCAA D1 basketball player ever by several standards. She is the only such player ever, male or female, to accumulate 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds. She also recorded more triple-doubles during her career than any other player, male or female.
She is also arguably the most marketable WNBA rookie ever. For those reasons, it would be a huge shock if New York doesn’t take her first overall on Friday.
Because of that, FanDuel has her a tremendous favorite in its market to for the top selection. As of Monday morning, she sat at -20000. BetMGM also has her as a runaway favorite at -5000.
The next options in the fields are Lauren Cox and Ionescu’s former Oregon teammate Satou Sabally. They both sit at +1400 on BetMGM and +1000 on FanDuel.
While betting on either of those prospects to be selected over Ionescu might be throwing money away, they are the favorites in the market for the second overall pick. These books are split on which is the favorite, however.
Will Dallas go best available or the hometown product at No. 2 overall?
Sabally forewent her final year of NCAA eligibility to enter this WNBA Draft class. When she did so, she instantly became the second-best prospect in the opinion of many.
Her decision might have altered not only her fate but Cox’s as well. Before Sabally made her decision, it seemed another foregone conclusion that the Dallas Wings would select Cox second overall.
Cox grew up in Flower Mound, Texas and played her collegiate ball at Baylor. She won a national championship as a junior and had the Bears on track to contend for back-to-back titles as a senior.
Selecting Cox could go a long way toward satisfying a fan base that has seen Dallas trade away All-Stars Liz Cambage and Skylar Diggins-Smith to other Western Conference teams over the past two offseasons. Additionally, the 6’4″ power forward would fill a position of need for the Wings.
Sabally is a rare talent despite her lack of local connection and the fact that Dallas’ need at the two-guard isn’t as great. The Wings simply may not feel comfortable passing on her and thus far, Dallas has given no indication of its plans.
Just as the Wings may be split on what they will do with the second pick, BetMGM and FanDuel are split on which player is their favorite. BetMGM favors Cox at -132 and has Sabally +120.
FanDuel, on the other hand, has taken a more conservative approach with little difference in the lines for the two prospects. Sabally currents sits at -125 while Cox rests at -105.
There is more intrigue in the markets for the third and fourth overall picks. That’s where there are some great opportunities for some contrarian plays.
The Fever and the Dream go on the clock for WV bettors on Friday
Both BetMGM and FanDuel have markets for the third overall pick, which belongs to the Indiana Fever. Only BetMGM currently has action on the Atlanta’s Dream‘s first pick, No. 4 overall, however.
BetMGM simply inverted Cox and Sabally for its market on the third overall selection. Sabally is the favorite at -132 with Cox at +120.
FanDuel has done the same thing, with the odds identical to its market for the second overall pick. That book has Cox at -125 with Sabally at -105 for pick No. 3.
Like Dallas, Indiana has been tight-lipped about its plans for its first selection. Draft analysts expect the Fever to go with whichever of Cox and Sabally is left over after the Wings make their pick.
The fourth overall pick is perhaps the most up in the air of the available markets right now. BetMGM and many analysts have Atlanta taking Chennedy Carter but there’s another contender in the field who presents some value.
Tyasha Harris sits at +1200 to be the fourth overall selection and it’s likely the Dream is considering her. Carter is a two-guard while Harris plays the point and Atlanta’s anemic 2019 offense lacked direction.
While Carter has a better skill set for scoring herself, she can be inconsistent. For these reasons, Harris might be the call when the Dream’s turn comes up.
Friday’s WNBA Draft could be a gamechanger for these athletes and more. For bettors who take some risks, if there are some surprises, it could be a lucrative night for them as well.