College Freshmen to Dominate the Early Part of the 2022 NBA Draft
The Orlando Magic has had more than its share of experience with the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft odds as Orlando won the draft lottery three times from 1992-to 2004. There was no question that Shaquille O’Neal would be the top pick in 1992. The Magic took Chris Webber the following year and turned that into a haul of assets including Penny Hardaway. In 2004, Dwight Howard was picked over Emeka Okafor and once again, Orlando made a wise choice.
The decision will be a little more challenging when the draft kicks off later this month. A pair of college freshmen – Auburn’s Jabari Smith and Chet Holmgren – have separated themselves from the rest of the candidates according to the NBA Draft odds.
Here’s a look at the options facing Orlando and the other teams picking early in the June 23 draft. Oklahoma City, Houston, Sacramento, and Detroit are the other teams picking in the top five.
Jabari Smith Jr. Auburn
As the draft draws closer, there are more reports that the NBA Draft odds favor Smith going first overall. He is currently at -250 to be the top pick and +250 to be selected second.
Smith did a little bit of everything during his freshman season. He shows the ability to score both inside and outside and that versatility would serve both Smith and the Magic well. His shooting ability is his calling card and he will add some needed punch to an Orlando team that finished 29th out of 30 NBA teams during the regular season in scoring offense and 28th in field-goal percentage.
If he does end up going first, an interesting tidbit is that his cousin Kwame Brown was also a former No. 1 overall pick. The expectation is that Smith will make a bigger impact at the pro level than Brown did.
Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga
Holmgren might have a higher ceiling than Smith, especially when his shot-blocking ability is taken into consideration when looking at the NBA Draft projections.
Despite Drew Timme being the No. 1 offensive option at Gonzaga, the 7-foot Holmgren nearly averaged a double-double with 14.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. He shot 61 percent from the field and nearly 40 percent from the 3-point range.
Holmgren didn’t have a high usage rate at Gonzaga with just 8.8 field-goal attempts per game. Some of those came due to his strong offensive rebounding prowess. He was a factor defensively as Holmgren averaged 3.7 blocked shots per game.
He’ll need to get stronger, but he will bring plenty of versatility on offense and could be a rim protector as well. There are some who think that among the draft prospects, he could have the best skill set to emerge into an NBA All-Star.
Holmgren has -300 odds to go second overall to Oklahoma City and comes in at +170 to be taken with the top pick.
Paolo Banchero, Duke
There was a time when there were three legitimate candidates to go first although Banchero was always third in that pecking order. The gap has continued to grow and that has made it more likely that he will be there when Houston picks third. The odds were +800 for Banchero to become the fifth Duke product to go first overall. They dropped to +1000 and now stand at +1400.
Banchero was not as consistent from the 3-point range as either Smith or Holmgren, however, he still finished with 44 3-pointers and in the NCAA tournament, he was 10 of 19 from behind the 3-point line.
With Houston deciding to pass on Evan Mobley and Scottie Barnes to select Jalen Green with the second overall pick in the 2021 draft, going big with its top pick makes a ton of sense.
Banchero is an overwhelming pick at -550 to go third overall, according to the NBA Draft odds. He checks in at +450 to go with the second pick and is a long shot to be selected first.
Jaden Ivey, Purdue
If there is a player who could sneak into the top three, it could be Ivey.
The 6-foot-4 Ivey made tremendous strides after averaging 11.1 points per game as a freshman. He shot better from the field, on 3-pointers, and from the foul line. Ivey averaged 17.3 points per game as a sophomore. His assist/turnover ratio in the recently completed season was just mediocre. He displayed the ability to get to the foul line for the Boilermakers and that aggressive mentality should serve him well in the NBA.
Ivey is showing up in some mock drafts being picked ahead of Banchero. He comes in at +800 to be picked third overall. That only trails Banchero and is tied for Holmgren.
Shaedon Sharpe, Kentucky
For a team willing to go all in, Sharpe could be the prospect for them.
Originally the top-rated player in the Class of 2022, Sharpe was reclassified into the Class of 2021 and once again soared to the top of the recruiting rankings.
The native of London, Ontario enrolled at Kentucky but never played in a game.
The 6-foot-5 Sharpe opened the eyes of college and professional scouts in the summer on the Nike EYBL circuit. He’s also had strong showings with Canada’s junior national teams. Sharpe averaged 13 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.3 steals in 21.6 minutes per game for Canada at the 2019 FIBA U16 Americas Championship.
Best of the Rest
After the top five candidates, there is a gap between the other potential draftees.
Arizona’s Bennedict Mathurin, Duke’s A.J. Griffin, and Iowa’s Keegan Murray all come in at +20000 in the odds to be the top pick. Indiana’s Johnny Davis and Jalen Duren of Memphis are close behind at +30000.
Murray has the best betting odds among this group to go second overall as he comes in at +10000. He is a stronger option to be taken with the third pick at +1400.
Australian guard/forward Dyson Daniels is listed at +20000 to be picked either second or third overall. Jeremy Sochan, who played at Baylor, is listed by the Las Vegas odds at +20000 for the No. 3 selection in the draft.Follow us on Twitter