Update: Since this story was originally published Tuesday, there’s been wild movement in the 2022 NBA Draft betting market. Overnight on the eve of the draft, Duke prospect Paolo Banchero was moved to the odds-on favorite to be the first overall selection, priced at -210 at FanDuel and -200 at Caesars on Thursday morning, surpassing Auburn’s Jabari Smith as the top betting choice. Contrarily, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, tweeted Thursday morning, “the 1-2-3 of the NBA Draft is increasingly firm, per sources: Jabari Smith to Orlando, Chet Holmgren to Oklahoma City and Paolo Banchero to Houston.”
Odds on players to be selected No. 1 were taken off the board at several sportsbooks Thursday, and when they were reposted later in the morning, Smith had reclaimed favorite status — and by a huge margin. As of this 9:45 a.m. ET update, Smith is a prohibitive -6000 at FanDuel, while Banchero is +600 to go first overall.
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Here’s Tony Meija’s take before these late moves and news.
On Sunday, BetMGM listed Duke standout Paolo Banchero as a +1600 choice to be selected No. 1 in Thursday night’s NBA Draft. By Monday, his odds had come down to +900. On Tuesday afternoon, Banchero was +180, while Auburn star Jabari Smith remained the betting favorite at -135.
Orlando Magic president Jeff Weltman, whose organization is slated to pick first, curiously didn’t even admit to having Banchero in for a workout when asked by reporters earlier this week, instead taking pride in his people being “buttoned up” in not divulging information.
.@OrlandoMagic Jeff Weltman's full answer to my question about if Orlando brought in Paolo Banchero for a workout.
I've thought a lot about why a franchise and player(or player's agent) wouldn't want the public to know about a workout, & I still can't come up with a good reason. pic.twitter.com/xTfYVYEK4J
— Adam Shadoff FOX 35 (@FOX35Adam) June 20, 2022
The Magic won the right to dictate what direction this draft will take by prevailing in the lottery. While there’s no inkling they would trade down, perhaps Houston has its eyes on Banchero as the player it covets most and is willing to trade up ahead of both Orlando and Oklahoma City. The Rockets traded Christian Wood to Dallas last week for a package featuring reserves Boban Marjanovic and Trey Burke in addition to the No. 26 pick in Thursday’s first round.
Moving Wood to give this year’s first-round pick and last year’s frontcourt selections, Alperen Sengun and Usman Garuba, a bigger platform, was thought to be a significant sign that Banchero would be Houston’s selection. After all, the deal was made immediately after the Rockets visited the Duke star in Memphis for a private workout.
Since the Magic’s lottery win on May 17, it has been widely reported that most front-office sources have believed Smith would be Orlando’s pick at No. 1, so the fact that this Banchero steam has surfaced makes riding Smith a solid value play. Smith was -250 and -275 at FanDuel and DraftKings last week to go first overall.
Odds to Go Second and Third
Gonzaga big man Chet Holmgren is a -155 favorite at DraftKings and is -175 at FanDuel to go No. 2 to Oklahoma City, and he’s reportedly comfortable landing with the Thunder since they’re continuing a rebuild and would allow him an opportunity to develop without the pressure of winning immediately.
Smith is +145 at DraftKings and +180 at FanDuel to go second ahead of Holmgren, but Holmgren’s size and wingspan fit a need for the Thunder.
Ironically, Banchero remains the heavy favorite to go No. 3. Purdue’s Jaden Ivey (No. 4, Sacramento) and Iowa’s Keegan Murray (No. 5, Detroit) are most likely to round out the top five, according to odds around the betting market.
NBA Draft Position Props
FanDuel has released some draft position props for players projected to be selected outside the top five, and the one who stands out is Arizona wing Bennedict Mathurin, whose over/under number has been placed at 6.5, with under favored at -158. Given he might be the Pistons’ choice ahead of Murray and has also been tied closely to the Indiana Pacers at No. 6, that’s an attractive number – he’s high on most draft boards.
Australian Dyson Daniels, who played for G League Ignite last season and has risen steadily in workouts, is also heavy chalk to go inside 7.5 picks (-172), which suggests a belief he wouldn’t get past the Trail Blazers at No. 7. Considering that guards Shaedon Sharpe, who sat out the season at Kentucky, and Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis are also candidates, it might be best to fade Daniels going top seven, which pays +128 as of the time of this writing.
The top true centers in this draft, Memphis’ Jalen Duren and Duke’s Mark Williams, are also in the top 10 mix. Duren’s over/under prop is 10.5 (-114 both ways, FanDuel) and could be selected as high as No. 7 by Portland or land with San Antonio or Washington, respective owners of the ninth and 10th picks.
Williams’ draft position has been set at 13.5 by FanDuel, with him slipping to the final pick in the lottery or out of it entirely the favored position (-158). Although his offensive game needs work, his athleticism, wingspan, and defensive instincts could make taking a shot at the under (+116) a solid play, since those attributes are always coveted.
Baylor’s Jeremy Sochan is a bit of an x-factor as well. His draft position has been set at 11.5, and he’s got admirers in San Antonio, New York, and Oklahoma City, but with Duke’s AJ Griffin and Murray also available as better shooters with similar frames, he might slip towards the end of the lottery. He’s the better defender of the trio and did improve throughout his freshman season in Waco.
Finally, the top player from national champ Kansas is likely to slip out of the lottery if FanDuel odds are to be believed. Ochai Agbaji, who had a terrific season and an outstanding NCAA Tournament, is -205 to go higher than 13.5 and nets you +152 if you don’t think he’ll be available when Cleveland makes the final lottery selection. Agbaji is smart but could be a victim of teams believing he’s got a limited ceiling since France’s Ousmane Dieng, a 19-year-old who played for the NBL’s New Zealand Breakers, is a similar bigger wing expected to go higher based on his potential.
Dieng is likely to be the first true International player – one with no ties to an American college system or the G League — to come off the board. Serbian 6-foot-11 forward Nikola Jovic and Senegalese 6-foot-11 center Khalifa Diop are also in the mix to hear their names called in the first round.