Just three weeks from now, every team in the NBA will be looking to better their futures through the 2022 NBA Draft.
Set to take place on June 23, this year’s draft features a lot of talent at the top of the draft board for the Orlando Magic to mull over with their No. 1 overall selection they were awarded via the NBA Draft Lottery last month.
This year, there does not seem to be a "clear-cut" favorite as to who the best overall prospect in the draft class is, yet the Magic are zeroing in on Jabari Smith Jr. out of Auburn, sources tell SI Fastbreak.
Standing about 6-foot-10 with a near 7-2 wingspan, Smith possesses a unique skillset of scoring and potential to defend virtually any position on the floor.
Arguably the most talented scorer at the top of the draft, Jabari Smith has a chance to grow into an All-Star-like offensive talent very quickly in this league, something Orlando desperately needs at either forward position right now.
Several league executives anticipate the Magic selecting Smith first overall in a few weeks, which opens up the door for a world of possibilities moving down the draft board.
Should Jabari Smith in fact be the first player selected in the 2022 NBA Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder will face a big decision in regards to who they draft between Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero.
Each player has fans within the Thunder’s front-office, with Holmgren filling more of a need this team has at the moment in their frontcourt. If Oklahoma City ends up with Chet Holmgren with the second overall pick, the Houston Rockets will get everything they have been wanting throughout this pre-draft process in Paolo Banchero out of Duke.
Banchero has been on Houston’s radar for quite some time now and if they did end up with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft lottery, multiple NBA scouts have said that the Rockets would strongly consider taking Paolo Banchero first over the likes of Smith and Holmgren.
While anything can change over the course of the next few weeks leading up to the 2022 NBA Draft, the Magic, Thunder and Rockets all seem to have a clear idea as to who the guy at the top of their draft boards are.
For the Magic, Jabari Smith Jr. checks off more boxes for them right now, which is why he is expected to be the third No. 1 pick in Orlando Magic history.
Sacramento Kings Draft Plans
This year’s draft is expected to start with the No. 4 overall pick currently held by the Sacramento Kings.
Looking to find ways to build right now and possibly make the playoffs during the 2022-23 season, ending what is now a 16-year playoff drought, the Kings are expected to be aggressive leading up to the 2022 NBA Draft in regards to shopping their draft pick, sources said.
Talents such as Malcolm Brogdon (Indiana Pacers), Julius Randle (New York Knicks), John Collins (Atlanta Hawks) and Jerami Grant (Detroit Pistons) have been brought up in league circles in connection to the Kings and their fourth overall selection in this year’s draft. As of right now, no formal trade offers have been made for this pick involving any of the players mentioned above.
Kings general manager Monte McNair is expected to work closely with newly hired head coach Mike Brown following the conclusion of the 2022 NBA Finals to get a sense of how the organization needs to build their roster in the offseason. Already having the blueprints of a plan in place with De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis as their focal points, Sacramento is not afraid to make a big move either before or during the draft.
As of right now, all players other than De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis and Davion Mitchell are said to be available in trade talks pertaining to the Kings.
The New York Knicks have been mentioned recently as a team heavily interested in moving up in the draft, most likely in connection to their interest in Purdue’s Jaden Ivey.
Should New York look to be aggressive in attempts to move up in this year’s draft, Sacramento will definitely be interested in hearing what the Knicks have to offer, especially if Randle is on the table in trade discussions.
Fallout In Utah Continues To Form
Lack of success over the years in the postseason has begun to take its toll on the Utah Jazz as an organization. Not only is All-Star Donovan Mitchell’s long-term future with the organization up-in-the-air, but the futures of All-Star center Rudy Gobert and head coach Quin Snyder also loom large over the heads of the Jazz front-office.
While some within Utah’s front-office are questioning Gobert’s long-term effectiveness next to Mitchell and his ability to possibly elevate the Jazz to championship contending status in the Western Conference, the league-wide expectation right now is that Utah will be keeping both All-Star talents barring a massive change in emotions from general manager Justin Zanik and owner Ryan Smith.
The focus of this franchise is on head coach Quin Snyder and whether or not he will in fact be the head coach of the Jazz heading into the 2022-23 season. Not much has been said in regards to what Snyder is thinking about, but the possibility of him sitting out next season and leaving the Jazz is very real.
Going from having the best record in the league during the 2020-21 season to losing in the first-round of the playoffs this year has put a lot of pressure on everyone associated with the Utah Jazz and Snyder has been at the forefront of this discussion.
Utah would like to retain their head coach though and ESPN has reported that the team did offer their head coach a new extension recently. No decision has been made yet and talks are expected to continue well into the offseason.
As to what this roster will look like next year, the Jazz are expected to look for ways to surround Donovan Mitchell with other capable scorers and facilitators. Veteran point guard Mike Conley is said to be on the trade market, yet the 34-year-old has generated very little interest league-wide, especially since he is set to make $22.7 million during the 2022-23 season with a partially-guaranteed clause in his deal for the 2023-24 season.
Royce O’Neale and Rudy Gay are two veteran players that could very much be on the move to teams that currently have trade exceptions adding up to the values of their respective contracts.
The Jazz have no draft picks in the upcoming 2022 NBA Draft and are already projected to be a tax-paying team with the roster they currently have heading into the offseason.
Other Notes and Rumors From Around the NBA:
Boston Celtics - Up for a contract extension off of his rookie deal in the offseason, sources tell SI Fastbreak that third-year forward Grant Williams would like to remain in Boston long-term. Williams has been a breakout contributor off-the-bench for the Celtics in the playoffs.
Dallas Mavericks - There is mutual interest between Jalen Brunson and the Dallas Mavericks to get a new deal done in the offseason. Dallas can offer Brunson the most money when he becomes a free agent this summer and they have proven that they are a contending threat in the Western Conference this season.
Miami Heat - Team president Pat Riley and the Miami Heat front-office have already begun preparations for what they believe is a pivotal offseason for their franchise. The Heat still believe their All-Star trio of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry can get to the NBA Finals, but many around the league are anticipating Miami inquiring about the availability of Washington Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal and Utah Jazz All-Star Donovan Mitchell in the offseason.
Philadelphia 76ers - There is no interest within the 76ers front-office in moving former first-round pick Tyrese Maxey at this time, even if Philadelphia is able to acquire another All-Star to pair with James Harden and Joel Embiid by including him in a trade. However, interest in Bradley Beal remains high within the Sixers’ front-office.
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