2022 NBA Draft lottery: Rockets, Magic, Pistons equal 14 percent chance to win; Jabari Smith odds-on favorite as No. 1 overall pick

The 2022 NBA Draft lottery will be held tonight before Celtics-Heat.
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Ahead of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat tonight, the NBA will hold its 2022 draft lottery. The Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic and Detroit Pistons finished with the three worst records in the league during the regular season and thus will have the highest chance of winning the lottery: 14 percent each (equates to about +615 from a betting perspective). Currently, the Caesars Sportsbook favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 draft is Auburn's Jabari Smith at +100.

Only the top four picks in the draft are determined via lottery, and all subsequent picks are awarded based on record. That means the team with the worst record (Houston) will receive no worse than the fifth pick. Before the 2019 draft, the team with the worst record had a 25 percent of winning the lottery, the second-worst had a 19.9 percent chance and the third-worst had a 15.6 percent. The league changed the system ahead of 2019 to help address tanking – although how well that methodology has worked is open to debate, to say the least.

Over the past two years, one of the teams with the 14 percent chance has won the lottery: Detroit in 2021 (took Cade Cunningham) and Minnesota in 2020 (took Anthony Edwards). The longest shot to win the lottery tonight is Cleveland with a 0.50 percent chance.

The Lakers, who still haven't filled their coaching position, have a 6.00 percent chance to win but their pick will belong to New Orleans as long as it lands in the top 10 — and there's about a 99.6 percent chance that happens. Thus, the Lakers don't even have anyone in attendance tonight. The Pelicans could be truly frightening next season if that pick lands in the top three because the top three prospects - Smith, Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren and Duke's Paolo Banchero - are considered to be miles ahead of any of the other available amateur players. Any one of those three players would make the Pelicans a force to be reckoned with.

As a freshman last season, the 6-foot-10, 220-pound Smith led Auburn to the SEC regular-season title. He topped the Tigers in scoring (16.9 ppg), 3-pointers made (79) and was second in rebounding (7.4). Smith was named the National Freshman of the Year, SEC Freshman of the Year (the first Auburn player to earn that honor), first-team All-SEC and second-team All-American. He won the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award and was a finalist for the Wooden Award.

The 7-foot, 195-pound Holmgren (+160 to be picked first) was the highest-ranked recruit to ever commit to Gonzaga. He was the WCC Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year and a Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Finalist. He averaged 14.1 points (60.7 percent from the field), 9.9 rebounds and 3.7 blocks. Holmgren has the highest ceiling in this class but has to bulk up.

The 6-foot-10, 250-pound Banchero (17.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg) was named ACC Freshman of the Year and third-team All-American for the Blue Devils. He's +400 to be chosen first. A handful of players from Duke have been chosen first overall. The honor has yet to be bestowed on a player from Auburn or Gonzaga.

TeamOdds to win No. 1 pick
Trail Blazers9.00%
Lakers (goes to Pelicans if Top 10)6.00%
Clippers (goes to Thunder)1.50%

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