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2022 NBA Draft Bets: Player to be Drafted 1st Overall Bet Picks
The Orlando Magic pulled off some magic on Tuesday, winning the NBA Draft Lottery for the fourth time in franchise history. But choosing who to select will be more difficult than pulling a rabbit out of a hat.
This year’s draft class is dominated by three players: Jabari Smith Jr., Chet Holmgren, and Paolo Banchero. Each prospect has a claim as the “top” player in the draft, which is supported by numerous scouts around the league. However, only one will join Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, and Dwight Howard in Magic lore.
Mock drafts between now and June 23 will have each of those players in the No. 1 spot. But the odds are cut and dry, as one particular player currently holds a slight edge. Here’s how the odds for the first-overall pick shake out.
Jabari Smith Jr. (-110)
Even though Holmgren and Banchero were 2022 draft favorites dating back to last summer, it’s Smith who enters draft season as the betting favorite.
The 6-foot-10 forward has everything teams want, including size, shooting, and defensive versatility. At Auburn, the 19-year-old averaged 16.9 points, which included a 42.0% clip from three. But Smith isn’t just a great shooter, as his poster dunk in the NCAA Tournament showcased his impressive athleticism.
Smith’s offensive capabilities earn him a spot in the number-one pick conversation. It also bodes well for him that the Magic had the second-worst offense in 2021-22.
Orlando has had one winning season since 2011-12, so getting this pick right is crucial. While some may see more upside in other prospects, Smith has an incredibly high floor and skills that should translate at the next level.
Chet Holmgren (+160)
When Orlando won the No. 1 pick, many fans started to envision Holmgren wearing a Magic jersey this fall.
It’s hard not to wonder about Chet’s enormous potential. The 7-footer has a slim 195-pound frame but makes up for it with shooting, playmaking, and elite defense around the rim. He finished his lone year at Gonzaga averaging 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks while earning a consensus All-American nod.
Holmgren’s frail frame makes him a slight underdog to go first overall. But with Orlando showing an affinity for lengthy prospects in recent drafts, Chet certainly fits the bill. Not to mention, he was high school teammates with Jalen Suggs, Orlando’s first-round pick in 2021.
There’s a slight boom-or-bust quality with Holmgren, who turned 20 on May 1. But if the Magic feel he has the most potential, he could easily become the pick.
Paolo Banchero (+280)
The only reason Banchero isn’t the favorite to go first overall is because of the Magic owning the pick, not anything to do with his talent.
Banchero is the same age and height as Smith but about 40 pounds heavier. The Duke freshman averaged 17.2 points and 7.8 rebounds and led the Blue Devils to the Final Four. Like Holmgren, he was a consensus All-American and earned a spot on the All-NCAA Tournament team.
While he’s not the three-point shooter his peers are, Banchero still possesses dynamic scoring ability near the basket and in the midrange. He can also create his own shots, something the points-starved Magic desperately need.
Orlando could favor Smith or Holmgren’s shooting, pushing Banchero off to the side. But there’s still lots of time for the Magic to reconsider their choice.