The clear top pick for the 2022 NBA draft

The Orlando Magic were the big winners of this year’s NBA Draft Lottery and will take first place overall in the June draft.

This is the fourth time Orlando has won the draft lottery. The three other top picks in franchise history were Dwight Howard, Shaquille O’Neal, and Chris Webber (trading for Penny Hardaway).

The Magic are hoping to hit Paydirt again with this year’s top pick and chances are the pick will be one of three low post players: Auburn’s Jabari Smith (-130), Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren (+160) or Duke’s Paolo Banchero (+). 475).

Jabari Smith

He is the early favorite to end up in Orlando. He’s probably got the best mix in this class of someone who can come in right away and contribute but also has a big head down. The 6-foot-11, 220-pound Smith dominated as a freshman at Auburn, averaging 16.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and shooting 80 percent from the foul line.

Jabari Smith
Auburn Jabari Smith

While there’s a lot to like about Smith, he only shot 42.9 percent from the field. That’s a problem for a man of Smith’s size and college-level talent. Also, he needs to develop more killer instincts. There were times when Smith was reluctant to take over games, and he struggled with losing the NCAA tournament to Miami, scoring just 10 points in 3-for-16 shooting.

The Magic needs an experienced low post player and Smith definitely fits. I think Smith is the most talented player in the draft, but with two other amazing big men on the board I’m not sure I would put him -130 in #1 now.

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Chet Holmgren

One thing I always warn about when betting draft props is that my/your opinion is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter what we would do, it matters what the selected teams will do.

Personally, I like Smith more than Holmgren. However, Chet at +160 is the best bet on the board. There’s no question that some in the Magic camp will be infatuated with Holmgren’s unique abilities, and you can bet he’ll be strong in the game to become #1 overall.

Holmgren is one of the most hotly debated NBA prospects in recent history. People love him or hate him. While I’m not as fond of Holmgren as some people are, a valid argument is that his game suits the NBA better than college.

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Holmgren supporters believe his ball handling ability and distance in the NBA is a recipe for him to become a superstar. However, Holmgren’s detractors will argue that he struggled against better competition in college, and that will likely continue against bigger, more physical players in the NBA.

Holmgren averaged 14.1 points and 9.9 rebounds at Gonzaga. However, in games against Arkansas, Memphis, Texas Tech, Alabama, Duke, UCLA and Texas, those numbers dropped to 9.7 points and nine rebounds.

Still, I like to grab Holmgren +160 early in the process. I think he’ll be closer to break even with Smith in June.

Paolo Banchero
Duke’s Paolo Banchero

Paolo Banchero

He is the most polished player of the three and the one most likely to make an immediate impression. The reason it goes #1 at +475 is because many analysts believe its cap isn’t quite as high as the other two top prospects.

However, it’s hard to argue with the production. According to KenPom, Banchero averaged 17.2 points and 7.8 rebounds against the 42nd-toughest schedule. He was also by far the most impressive of the three on the big stage, averaging 18.8 points and 7.6 rebounds in the NCAA tournament.

I’d be fine if Orlando Banchero took over No. 1, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. The +475 is tempting, but it’s a pass for me. I see the magic going with either Smith or Holmgren, making Chet +160 the best bet on the board right now. The clear top pick for the 2022 NBA draft


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