Jabari Smith Jr. Listed as Likely Top Selection in 2022 NBA Draft

With the NBA Finals wrapping up late last week, the focus has shifted towards the upcoming 2022 NBA draft.

Drafting well is an integral part of winning championships in professional sports. Look no further than the most recent championship team, the Golden State Warriors. It’s not always about who you select at the top of the class that counts, with Stephen Curry being selected seventh overall out of Davidson in 2009, Klay Thompson 11th overall from Washington State, and Draymond Green 35th overall from Michigan State. 

When you have lottery picks, you have to hit on them. The Orlando Magic will look to do that with the first selection when they kick off the draft on Thursday. The likely selection will come down to one of three talented prospects in Jabari Smith. Jr, Chet Holmgren, or Paolo Banchero. Smith Jr. is a forward out of Auburn who currently has the highest odds to go first overall at -250, seeing his odds increase from an open of -105. Slightly behind Smith Jr. is Banchero, who played a key role for Duke, owning +240 odds to be selected first. Holmgren out of Gonzaga is more of a longshot here, but he’s the only other prospect with odds above +1000, sitting at +400. 

Smith Jr. would add to the Magic’s current core of Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony while giving them another presence up front alongside Franz Wagner. There’s certainly potential that Smith Jr. could be a team-leading scorer down the line after averaging 16 points per game in the NCAA tournament and 16.9 per game throughout the season. Holmgren would give the Magic more rim protection with a little less scoring capability, but there’s still a lot to like about the 7’0 C/F. Banchero is likely the best pure scorer of the three. Still, it looks like it’s a two-horse race between Holmgren and Smith Jr. With the backcourt assembled already, that’s why these promising prospects are the odds-on favorites to be selected by the Magic. 

Smith Jr. currently boasts the highest ticket percentage to be the first overall selection at 27.1%, Holmgren with 24.5%, and Banchero at 16.5%. 

The money has also trended in a similar direction, with Smith Jr. owning more than half the handle at 53.3%, with Holmgren registering the second-highest percentage at 35.3%, followed by Banchero with 8.5%. 

Smith Jr., Holmgren, and Banchero are the books’ most significant liabilities to be the first overall pick to Orlando. 

Below you can find the likely three players in contention for the top overall selection from the BetMGM Sportsbook

Player Opening Odds Current Odds
Jabari Smith Jr. -105 -250
Chet Holmgren 145 400
Paolo Banchero 350 240