2022 NBA Draft Odds: Auburn's Jabari Smith now heavy favorite as first overall pick to Orlando Magic

Who will be the first pick in the upcoming NBA Draft? Caesars Sportsbook is leaving little doubt.
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No player from Auburn has been the first overall pick in the NBA Draft, but Caesars Sportsbook oddsmakers clearly expect that to change on June 23 in Brooklyn. Tigers forward Jabari Smith is now the massive -430 favorite to be the first name called by Commissioner Adam Silver for the Orlando Magic. Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren is a distant second favorite at +310 and then Duke's Paolo Banchero is third at +1800.

When the draft lottery was held on May 17, Smith was +100 to go first. He has gotten 53 percent of the handle to be first overall pick since the lottery, and 82 percent of the handle over the past week-plus. Last week, current Magic big man Chuma Okeke, also from Auburn, commented on a Smith Instagram post that seemed to indicate Smith knows he's heading to Orlando. Smith liked Okeke's comment and another one from a Magic fan account that said "Future Magic."

The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor said in a Spotify Live room Saturday that Smith may not be a lock as the top pick. "I don't buy that yet personally and most of the people I talk to around the league aren't sold on that yet either," O'Connor told listeners. 

However, ESPN's Jonathan Givony has written that Orlando will pick Smith no matter what: "Most NBA teams firmly believe that's a formality and that Smith is all but assured to become the top pick. Smith, for his part, appears thrilled with that development. So is Holmgren over his looming marriage with the Oklahoma City Thunder, which is also the overwhelming expectation from NBA executives with whom we spoke at the draft combine."

Most CBS Sports mock drafts have Smith landing in Orlando, but Gary Parrish has Holmgren as the choice. Auburn coach Bruce Pearl has compared Smith to a young Kevin Durant.

"He's not just the No. 1 player taken, he's gonna be an NBA All-Star," Pearl said. "He's the best jump-shooting big in college basketball in the last 10 years. The fact that his numbers kinda mirror KD's, it's not a coincidence."

Last season, the 6-foot-10, 225-pound Smith was named National Freshman of the Year, SEC Freshman of the Year, All-SEC first team and second-team All-American. He led Auburn in scoring (16.9 PPG), 3-pointers made (79) and was second in rebounding (7.4). The Georgia native was the only freshman to rank in the top 10 in both scoring and rebounding in the SEC. He's six months younger than Banchero and a full year younger than Holmgren.

Smith's father Jabari Sr. was a two-time All-SEC player at LSU, and he was drafted by the Kings with the 45th pick in the 2000 NBA Draft. He played in the league for seven seasons.

The highest an Auburn player has even been selected was fourth overall: Chuck Person in 1986 and Chris Morris in 1988. Charles Barkley is certainly the best player the school has produced and was the fifth pick in 1984. 

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