Just a few days ago it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Auburn forward Jabari Smith would have his name called first in the NBA draft. But like usual, when the draft gets closer and closer, there’s more talk about other avenues that the team with the No.1 pick will go. With the NBA draft set for tomorrow night, let’s take a look at how the odds have shifted for which player will go first overall.
Smith is still the odds-on favorite to hear his name first overall, but a few weeks ago he was the favorite at -600 and since then it has been practically cut in half to -330. At the end of the day, I still think the Orlando Magic choose Smith because his scoring upside from three, matched with his size, is just too much to pass on.
At Auburn, Smith averaged 17 points a game on 43% shooting from the field, but shot an astounding 42% from distance. He still has to develop a better mid-range game and needs to do a better job of attacking off the dribble, but the tools are there for him to develop those skills.
If the Magic are looking for a player that has the most upside and that fits the model that the NBA is going to, then Smith makes the most sense in my eyes at No.1.
It’s been quite the past couple of weeks for forward Paolo Banchero. He had been pegged to go No. 3 overall to the Houston Rockets and that was really the end of the discussion. The decision by the Rockets to trade power forward Christian Wood reinforced the idea that they would lean towards picking Banchero.
However, with the third best odds to go No. 1 just a couple weeks ago at +2400, those odds have increased all the way to +300. Like Smith, Banchero would be an added boost to a Magic team that is looking for as many offensive weapons as possible. The key difference between the two is where they get a bulk of their scoring from.
A portion of Banchero’s offensive production comes from isolation in the mid-range, which tends to make the offense more stagnant. Isolation scoring is always needed in the NBA, but if Banchero wants to reach his full potential, he’ll have to be better off the ball.
Well, he’s still the favorite to go No. 2 to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Chet Holmgren’s odds went from +340 two weeks ago, just to +450 today. His odds haven’t had a groundbreaking shift like Banchero’s, but he now has the third-best odds to go first overall.
For a bulk of the year it seemed as though Holmgren would go No.1, but when the Magic won the lottery that scenario seemed to go down the drain. The Magic already have a center who they’re committed to in Wendell Carter Jr. It makes the most sense for the Magic to lean towards a forward, but passing on Holmgren won’t be easy.
Holmgren’s an elite rim protector who’s shown he can take it coast-to-coast, while also spreading the floor with his jumper. He’s just another example of a player that the NBA is looking for more and more, and whoever has the privilege of drafting him, is in store for a treat.