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Winners Club: Paolo Banchero a Surprise No. 1 Selection in NBA Draft

Plus, Avalanche can clinch Stanley Cup tonight and fantasy football alternative league formats.

The consensus top-three NBA Draft prospects were correct. The order was not.

Jabari Smith had long been linked to the Magic as their target with the first pick in Thursday’s draft. After a day rife with dramatically shifting betting odds, Smith ended up going third to the Rockets and Paolo Banchero was a surprise pick at No. 1.

Keep reading to see how the rest of the draft unfolded, what to know before tonight’s potentially decisive Stanley Cup Final and learn about alternative fantasy football league formats.

Magic Land Duke’s Banchero First Overall

Where there’s smoke there’s fire, right? Banchero’s odds to go No. 1 to Orlando were on the rise all week long despite the fact that the Duke freshman forward did not workout with the franchise ahead of Thursday’s draft.

Banchero had long been tied to the Rockets at the third pick, but the Magic shocked the world and burned a multitude of mock drafts when they selected Banchero.

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Smith’s “fall” did not last long. The Thunder selected Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren No. 2 and then Smith went to Houston with the third pick.

In the end, Holmgren was the only betting favorite in the top five picks to land with his expected team after the Kings selected Keegan Murray fourth and the Pistons went with Jaden Ivey at No. 5.

A flurry of trades were made as the rest of the draft unfolded, including Kemba Walker getting dealt to the Pistons, where he could be headed for a buyout, in a deal that also sent Jalen Duren to the Motor City and the 76ers received De’Anthony Melton in exchange for Danny Green and a pick.

The Knicks were about as active as a team can be on draft night and not end up with a player in the first round. It seems they’re all in on the Jalen Brunson sweepstakes.

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Here are the biggest takeaways from draft night:

NBA First-Round Draft Grades: With the dust now settled on a wild first 30 picks, see how each team made out in the first round of the draft. Who got the biggest steal? And who may have reached for their pick? Jeremy Woo breaks it all down.

Winners and Losers from the Draft: Michael Pina dubbed three winners and three losers after Thursday’s draft. Is OKC finally cashing in on its stockpile of picks going to translate to success? And an evergreen question: What are the Kings doing?

Best Rookie Landing Spots: Entering a good situation is essential to the success of first-year players and, for the most part, teams picking at the top of the draft don’t have a lot going their way. See which rookies Michael Shapiro believes landed in the best spots.

Steals of the Draft: So much is made of the first few picks, and for good reason. But which teams found value Thursday outside of the lottery? Kevin Sweeney found four players he’s bullish on despite their draft position.

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Avalanche One Win Away from the Cup

Colorado can win its first Stanley Cup in more than two decades tonight.

The Avalanche hold a 3-1 series lead against the Lightning, the back-to-back defending champions, and are on their home ice with a chance to claim the Cup.

Tampa Bay had an opportunity to even the series at home in Game 4 and it lost in overtime, 4-3, its second defeat this series in the extra period.

Nazem Kadri, in his first game since June 4, scored the winning goal Wednesday and now the most dominant team in the postseason is in position to end the Lightning’s reign.

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The Avalanche are massive favorites to win the series with a 3-1 lead and two of the three possible remaining games to be played in Denver. Colorado is -1613 at SI Sportsbook and the Lightning are +800. The most likely outcome at SISB is a 4-1 Avalanche series win (-200).

Friday
8 p.m. ET (ABC): Lightning vs. Avalanche (-175) | Colorado leads series, 3-1

Alternative Fantasy Football League Formats, Explained

Fantasy football has something for everyone. Redraft is a relatively easy entry way for the casual player and keeper and dynasty leagues are also among the more common formats, though they cater to a more invested clientele interested in a more year-round commitment.

Matt De Lima wrote about three alternative league formats for those looking to switch it up this season. Here’s the gist of each:

Best Ball: Rather than managing a team throughout a season and prepping a weekly lineup, the best ball format allows managers to draft a team and be done with it.

Auction Draft: Auction drafts give each team a set budget, typically $200. Players are nominated and bid on using a short 15- or 30-second timer.

Salary Cap: A precursor to auction leagues and DFS, salary cap leagues assign an updated pricing list for each player weekly before managers construct a new lineup for every matchup.

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More NFL and fantasy football:

What Gronk’s Retirement Means for Bettors, Fantasy Players: Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski announced his second retirement Tuesday. That could open up some end zone targets in Tampa Bay, though Gronkowski’s agent Drew Rosenhaus said it wouldn’t surprise him if his client makes a return next season—again.

The Fantasy Stars of the Original USFL: Derrick Henry set fantasy football leagues ablaze when he ran for 2,000 yards in 2020; Herschel Walker cleared that bar in the 1985 USFL season. Jim Kelly also tore the league up prior to his NFL career. Find out which USFL players had the most fantasy production from 1983-85 and how their stats stacked up to today’s game.

Rookie-Only Fantasy Draft Review: Michael Fabiano reviewed the four-round rookie draft of the Dirt Dynasty League. There was somewhat of a surprise at 1.01 before things generally went according to plan. Get Fabiano’s analysis of this 48-player draft to find where value may lie.

Falcons Receiving Game Has Holes to Fill: Atlanta lost its quarterback, two of its top receivers and one of its top backs from a season ago. That leaves a lot of open opportunities in this offense. In the third installment of The Replacements, find out how the Falcons will make up for their offseason losses and which players stand to gain.

In Other News

Arch Manning Commits to Texas: The No. 1 recruit in the class of 2023 announced his intent to play for the Longhorns via his Twitter account Thursday. Manning, who plays quarterback at Isodore Newman in New Orleans, did not follow the path of his uncles Peyton and Eli, who played at Tennessee and Ole Miss, respectively.

Wimbledon Betting Preview: Serena Williams is a longshot to win her 24th Grand Slam next week in London, where Iga Swiatek is a heavy favorite. See which contenders have a shot to score an upset against Swiatek, the world’s No. 1 player.

USFL Playoff Betting Breakdown: The postseason is here and four teams are in the running for the first USFL championship since 1985. The Stallions enter the playoffs as the favorites to win it all—see how the Generals, Breakers and Stars stack up behind them as play shifts from Birmingham, Ala., to Canton, Ohio.

Ole Miss to Face Oklahoma in College World Series: The Rebels defeated the Razorbacks on Thursday to advance to the finals for the first time in program history. The Sooners await for a best-of-three series that gets underway Saturday.

WNBA Announces All-Star Starters: Breanna Stewart, Sue Bird, A’ja Wilson Sylvia Fowles were named the four co-captains for the July 10 exhibition. The league’s coaches will vote on the 12 reserves and then the teams will be drafted July 2.

PGA Tour Announces Changes: Commissioner Jay Monahan said Wednesday that significant purse increases are to come, as well as enhancements to the schedule in a direct response to the LIV Golf Invitational series. Monahan also reiterated that players who sign on to play in LIV Golf events will face an indefinite suspension from the PGA Tour.


Thanks for reading! Enjoy your weekend. I’ll be back in your inbox Monday morning.