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2022 NBA Draft Odds: Heavy Favorites Emerge for First Four Picks

Heavy favorites have emerged at SI Sportsbook for the first four picks in the 2022 NBA draft, highlighted by Jabari Smith serving as the massive favorite to be drafted first.

Thirty NBA front offices are deep in preparation for the draft next week while the Finals rage on in San Francisco and Boston.

The two teams dueling for the title are especially representative of the importance of successfully building through the draft as the Celtics and Warriors found the bulk of their rosters in the draft, including their All-NBA talents.

Are there any Steph Currys or Jayson Tatums to be found in the NBA draft next Thursday? Maybe, maybe not.

What is clear is the lines in the sand that have been drawn between the top three prospects and the rest of the field and—perhaps to an even greater extent—separating the presumptive No. 1 pick from his counterparts in the top three.

Any shakeup from that projected 1-3 order—where a favorite has emerged for the second and third picks, as well as the first—has the potential to yield a massive payout.

So, who are the top three and where will they fall? And which player will have the honor of going fourth?

The top four picks of the NBA draft are as follows:

No. 1 Orlando Magic
No. 2 Oklahoma City Thunder
No. 3 Houston Rockets
No. 4 Sacramento Kings

This is where the odds stand nine days out from the 2022 NBA Draft for each slot, along with a breakdown of how each pick could play out and where there may be betting value to exploit

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Auburn Tigers forward Jabari Smith (10) takes a jump shot during the first round of the 2022 NCAA tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C., on Friday, March 18, 2022.

No. 1 Pick Odds

Jabari Smith -250
Chet Homgren +150
Paolo Banchero +1600

Smith is a heavier favorite to go No. 1 as the draft inches closer and it’s easy to see why. He’s a 6’10” forward with a pure jump shot who has shown defensive versatility. The 19-year-old who went one-and-done at Auburn is the top pick in Jeremy Woo’s latest mock draft and he described Smith as “an excellent fit with the roster and a potential culture-setting player for a Magic team still establishing its identity.”

If any player leaps Smith, it will be Holmgren. The 7’0” big man from Gonzaga is consistently dinged for his slight frame (he weighs 195 lbs, less than Smith or Banchero despite being taller than both). But his defensive ability around the rim, which he flashed by swatting nearly four shots per game in college, and what he adds on offense (60% from the field, 39% from three) make him a very enticing prospect.

The Magic front office has been enamored with lengthy forwards and centers in recent years like Jonathan Isaac, Mob Bamba and, to a lesser extent, Franz Wagner a season ago. Holmgren could very well join that lineage in Orlando and the plus-odds payday for that pivot would be immense.

Mar 24, 2022; San Francisco, CA, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs center Chet Holmgren (34) warms up before the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks in the semifinals of the West regional of the men’s college basketball NCAA Tournament at Chase Center.
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No. 2 Pick Odds

Chet Homgren -250
Jabari Smith +220
Paolo Banchero +800

Holmgren has the same odds to go No. 2 to Oklahoma City as Smith to go first. The Thunder have a greater need at center than either the Magic or Rockets, so the defensive stalwart seems like a logical fit with Sam Presti’s squad. Again, if Holmgren comes off the board at No. 1 it’s hard to see Smith falling past the second pick. 

airing plus-odds wagers on Holmgren and then Smith going first and second is a good way to extract value from a draft that seems rather chalky up top.

Woo has Banchero landing with the Thunder, which would be a massive upset based on his odds. Woo writes: “While a lot of the early buzz around this pick has centered on Chet Holmgren, expect Oklahoma City to also take a long look at Banchero, who fits their ethos with his size and skill but brings a very different set of strengths.”

FILE - Duke forward Paolo Banchero celebrates during the first half of a college basketball game against Arkansas in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA men’s tournament in San Francisco, Saturday, March 26, 2022. Houston, Detroit and Orlando share the best odds to win the draft lottery on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, and the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. All three are already loaded with young players, even before the possibility of adding someone like Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero or Jabari Smith.

No. 3 Pick Odds

Paolo Banchero -654
Chet Holmgren +1200
Jaden Ivey +1200

Banchero is a prohibitive favorite to go No. 3 to Houston. He’s viewed as somewhat of a consolation prize for the Rockets after the Magic and Thunder pluck what seems to be the consensus top two prospects in the draft, but there’s plenty to love about Banchero and his potential fit alongside Christian Wood in the frontcourt.

The 6’10” Duke product enters the NBA as a solid scorer and distributor after one year in college. He led a team full of first-rounders in points and rebounds per game and he can hold up defensively, though it’s not necessarily his strength.

Woo says of Banchero: “He’s the most polished offensive player in the draft, with a unique mix of power, skill and passing chops that lets him operate all over the floor as a playmaking fulcrum.”

Given how much money one would have to lay on Banchero to see any significant return, it’s best to stay away from betting on him in this spot. He surely seems like the pick, but those heavy odds are enough to drive away interest.

Holmgren at No. 3 offers a massive return if Woo’s mock is correct.

Jaden Ivey prepares to shoot a free throw for Purdue.

No. 4 Pick Odds

Jaden Ivey -400
Keegan Murray +290
Shaedon Sharpe +500

This is where the draft shifts.

The conversation has centered around the top three prospects, but there are very talented players to be had when the Kings are on the clock.

Right now, Ivey, the 6’4” sophomore point guard from Purdue, is the favorite to end up in Sacramento alongside De’Aaron Fox, another ball-dominant guard.

Woo projects Murray, a forward from Iowa, will land with the Kings. The sophomore made a huge year-over-year leap and can help a woebegone franchise toward its ultimate goal of ending its record 16-year playoff drought.

Considering how much the board opens up when Sacramento is on the clock with the top three prospects gone, there’s little value in betting Ivey as such a heavy favorite. Murray can potentially slide in at the four spot for the Kings alongside Domantas Sabonis in the frontcourt and offers plus-odds.

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