For months leading up to Thursday night’s NBA Draft, we knew French seven-footer Victor Wembanyama would be the No. 1 pick. But what we were much less certain of was what the Charlotte Hornets would do at No. 2, torn between SEC Player of the Year Brandon Miller and G League phenom Scoot Henderson. All signs were pointing to Miller until insider Shams Charania, pulling from his infinite well of league sources, muddied the waters by sending out the following tweet.
Sources: Scoot Henderson is gaining serious momentum at No. 2 with the Charlotte Hornets in tonight’s NBA draft. Hornets have been torn over the last week between Henderson and Brandon Miller. Team has final meetings today to settle on decision.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 22, 2023
That development struck many as odd. In terms of need, Miller always made more sense for the Hornets while Henderson, for all his talent, would have been redundant, adding another body to what was already a crowded backcourt led by LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Kelly Oubre and Dennis Smith Jr. Regardless, Charania’s tweet had an immediate impact on betting markets, transforming Henderson from a longshot to the heavy favorite for the No. 2 pick, all in a matter of hours.
— theScore Bet (@theScoreBet) June 22, 2023
Before this tweet, @PointsBetUSA had Brandon Miller -190 and Scoot Henderson +135 to go No. 2.
They just took it down and reposted with Scoot at -600 and Miller at +400. https://t.co/xBxGLxEzOp
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) June 22, 2023
Though Charania’s report may have been accurate at the time, Charlotte, sometime before the No. 2 pick was announced, must have had a change of heart, ultimately selecting Miller with Henderson falling to the Portland Trail Blazers at No. 3.
Charania’s ESPN counterpart, Adrian Wojnarowski, would later take a victory lap at Shams’ expense, suggesting Henderson was never in play for Charlotte at No. 2.
All along, the entire Charlotte Hornets organization has been all-in on Brandon Miller — ownership, front office, scouts, coaches. They see him as a perennial future All-Star player.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 23, 2023
Wojnarowski’s ESPN colleague, Joe Fortenbaugh, offered further insight, acknowledging that while the Hornets did briefly entertain trading the No. 2 pick, their reported interest in Henderson was likely a smokescreen.
Charlotte knew the market for Brandon Miller because of the Woj report earlier in the week. So they tried to dangle Scoot in the 24th hour to see what that could bring. When it amounted to little, they stuck with Miller.
— Joe Fortenbaugh (@JoeFortenbaugh) June 23, 2023
That could have been the end of the story, but what complicates matters is that Charania just so happens to be on FanDuel’s payroll. Predictably, many on Twitter cried foul, accusing Charania of manipulating Henderson’s odds for the benefit of his employer.
– shams (employed by fanduel) tweets this
– tons of people put money on scoot at #2 at sportsbook like fanduel (odds massively shifted immediately after the tweet)
– hornets don’t draft scoot
– fanduel makes a ton of money
is this not just blatant fraud ??? https://t.co/Vf6yKFOrYu
— mansur?️ (@mansurshaheen) June 23, 2023
NFL player bets on NFL: suspension, cut from team, spat on in public, ostracized from society
FanDuel employee manipulates betting market: glorified as insider, gets high five from boss, receives briefcase full of money pic.twitter.com/hZ3qDOPZ37
— Isaac (@WorldofIsaac) June 23, 2023
Making that accusation without knowing all the facts is probably irresponsible, though you can’t deny it’s a heck of a coincidence, illustrating the slippery slope between sports and its betting overlords, rife with conflicts of interest. If nothing else, Thursday’s controversy shows the enormous power wielded by Charania and Wojnarowski, with both carrying enough industry juice to influence the betting community in a major way.