With the NCAA Tournament having wrapped up in April and the NBA Finals concluding last week as the Golden State Warriors captured their fourth title in eight years, the focus now shifts to the 2022 NBA Draft. There are a ton of intriguing prospects in this class, with Auburn freshman Jabari Smith the current favorite to go first overall to the Orlando Magic. However, both Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero are in the mix for the top selection as well. After the Magic, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings, and Detroit Pistons will be on the clock. Below, we'll discuss the 2022 NBA Draft picks and odds for first overall.
Odds to be first pick in 2022 NBA Draft
|First Overall Pick Odds|
Back at the start of the year, it was frankly a toss-up between Smith, Holmgren, and Banchero for the top pick. But as of right now, Smith has odds as low as -180 ahead of Thursday. The 6'10" forward was a force in his lone season at Auburn, he averaged 16.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, and two assists per game while shooting an impressive 42% from three-point land. While Banchero might have the more NBA-ready body, Smith is one of the best shooters to come into the league in years. His stroke is absolutely flawless, showing the ability to pull and drain shots from anywhere on the perimeter. When it comes to catch-and-shoot situations, Smith is also very efficient. He should immediately thrive as a three-point weapon in the Association. Aside from his ability to get hot from deep, the Auburn star is also very athletic and strong. Although there is room for him to still fill out more, he is relatively physical already and can hold his own around the cup. In a day and age where the triple is such a frequent source of offense, it's no wonder Smith is at the top of most draft boards. The Magic were one of the worst shooting teams in the league last season too, shooting a putrid 33% from long range. You can understand why they're so high on Smith.
Holmgren is a modern-day big who has scouts absolutely drooling. At 7 feet, he's a smooth ball-handler who can defend the hoop and shoot the rock consistently. However, he is extremely slender for his height, weighing just 195 pounds. That has a lot of teams worrying about his longevity in the NBA. In his lone season at Gonzaga, Chet put up 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks per night and also shot 39% from beyond the arc. Because of how skinny he is, Holmgren could have a tough time with interior scoring in the Association but his ability to shoot the trey should definitely continue. He did meet with the Magic last week but there are rumors swirling around that Holmgren rather head to OKC because there will be more opportunities with how the Thunder's roster is currently constructed. Whether that's true or not remains to be seen, but his fit with Orlando isn't as perfect as Smith's. That could make a difference come Draft Night.
Banchero's first overall pick odds are pretty steep, hovering mostly around +400. But, you can't take away from what he accomplished in his freshman season at Duke. Playing on a stacked roster for Coach K, Banchero was easily the Blue Devils' best player and led them all the way to the Final Four, ultimately losing to ACC rivals North Carolina in New Orleans. He dropped 20 points and 10 rebounds in that contest and averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists on the season. Banchero isn't the greatest long-range shooter but the 19-year-old is an absolute force to be reckoned with in essentially every other area. The power forward is long, physical, and strong at 6'10" and 250 pounds, showing impressive ball-handling abilities and he can truly score at all three levels. He's fantastic at getting downhill and attacking and has the physical stature right now to immediately compete at the NBA level. His most intriguing skill set however could very well be his playmaking, showing a special talent for getting his teammates involved. The Magic also met with Banchero but they already have a stacked forward group and look like they're focusing more on Smith or Holmgren. There is a chance they could go all in and take the offensive menace who can do it all, but they're looking for more shooting. Banchero to Houston looks like it may be the move because he fits perfectly into that core group with Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr, and Alperen Sengun, among others.
First Overall Best Bet
All signs are pointing to Jabari Smith at first overall and the odds reflect just that. Banchero is essentially out of the mix. It will come down to Smith and Holmgren for that top pick. But, because of the Auburn's star's more physical body and ability to shoot the lights out, I do believe the Magic are going to prioritize him to help jumpstart their rebuild.
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