May 17, 2022; Chicago, IL, USA; Orlando Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley and NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum pose after Orlando Magic won the first pick during the 2022 NBA Draft Lottery at McCormick Place. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
- Jabari Smith is heavily favored to be selected first overall in the 2022 NBA Draft
- The Orlando Magic won the lottery on Tuesday night ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder
- Read below for odds and analysis on the 2022 NBA Draft
Jabari Smith is the odds on favorite to be selected first overall in the 2022 NBA Draft. The Orlando Magic won the lottery for the first time since 2004 with the Oklahoma City Thunder slotting in at two and the Houston Rockets picking third after drafting Jalen Green second overall in 2021.
It was inevitable that the lottery would have an impact on NBA draft odds. The outcome led to Smith’s favorites status becoming stronger still, with Chet Holmgren at +175 and Paolo Banchero at +400 to have their name called first.
NBA First Overall Pick Odds
Odds as of May 18 at Caesars Sportsbook
Smith’s Fit in Orlando
Jabari Smith was already favored to be picked first overall, but the news of the Magic winning the pick has seen him move to odds-on. He was an average price of +108 just over a month ago, while Paolo Banchero was just behind Chet Holmgren at the time.
Orlando has an array of options in the backcourt, Franz Wagner on the wing and Wendell Carter Jr at the five. All of Smith, Holmgren and Banchero will probably be fours in the NBA to start off with, but Smith’s skillset is what the Magic crave most of all.
A talented shooter with the potential to develop into an elite defender, Smith slots in nicely alongside Carter and Wagner in the frontcourt. The playmaking of Holmgren and Banchero is not as appealing to the Magic given the number of ball handlers already on the roster, including Wagner and Jalen Suggs, who was selected fifth overall in 2021.
No Trade Happening
Given the lack of a clear consensus on the top prospect in this draft, a trade involving the first overall pick was possible. Had a team like Portland leapt up, a trade down would have been very much on the table, further confusing the first overall pick betting markets. That’s not a factor to really worry about with Orlando, who remains firmly in a rebuild.
This is a relatively straight-forward discussion from now onwards. It’s about which player makes most sense for the Magic, and while a case can be made for Holmgren and Banchero, it’s hard to look past Smith at the moment.
Where Holmgren is the swing-for-the-fences option, and Banchero is coming off some stellar performances in March Madness, Smith is a combination of high floor and upside. At worst, he’s a nice complementary piece on their current roster. At best, he’s a transformative scorer who can take on any defensive assignment.
Other Candidates to Go First Overall
Jaden Ivey was always an outsider to break into the top three, let alone go first. Ivey’s explosiveness as a scorer and ability as a shooter could have lured in a team, however, making him a tempting longshot wager to be the first overall selection. Orlando winning the draft effectively ends any such ambitions with Cole Anthony, Markelle Fultz, Suggs and R.J. Hampton already battling for minutes at the guard spots.
Shaedon Sharpe is popular with many draft analysts, but most think it would be a reach to take him in the top three. Sharpe could be a fit with Orlando if they look to play smaller with Wagner at the four, and he’s got very significant upside at both ends of the floor. That would have been a tempter at +6000 if a different team had won the lottery.
Time will tell how deep this draft class really is. When it comes to the top pick, though, Smith deserves to be the heavy favorite.
Sam Cox is a freelance writer and sports junkie, who has spent the past several years immersed in the online gaming industry. He has worked with 888sport, Oddschecker, and Colossus Bets to name a few. Based in the UK, Sam also runs Franchise Sports with his brother.