In one of the tightest races to become the No. 1 overall NBA draft pick in recent years, Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr. seems to have taken a slight lead with just five days to go til the 2022 NBA Draft Lottery.
Smith, a 6-foot-10 sharpshooter with stout defensive instincts, set the basketball world ablaze this season by shooting 42% from three-point land in his lone college season.
Smith is listed as a -110 favorite at Vegas Insider and Bodog.
Despite his hot start, it’s still a bit surprising that Smith is the favorite due to Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Duke’s Paolo Banchero closely in tow.
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Both sites have Holmgren following at +155 and +160, respectively. With a seven-foot frame and guard like reflexes and handles, Holmgren put a stellar season with the Zags. In the Thunder’s case specifically, it’s hard no to see general manager Sam Presti salivating over the idea of pairing facilitator Josh Giddey with a post-threat and defensive anchor.
Then there’s Banchero, who may just be the most NBA-ready prospect available. Banchero is looming around +300, and very could be the best bang for bettors buck. In a 6-foot-10 frame with guard skills and physicality, he’s definitely not out of the conversation.
After Banchero there’s a steep drop-off to Jaden Ivey at around +3000. One step further is Shaedon Sharpe at +5000, and following him are Johnny Davis and Keegan Murray at +15000.
The 2022 NBA Draft is set to take place on Thursday, June 23 in Brooklyn, New York.