The NBA season isn't officially over yet even though the Golden State Warriors won the championship last Thursday – the 2022 draft this Thursday from Brooklyn officially puts a bow on the campaign. Caesars Sportsbook oddsmakers are somewhat confident that Auburn's Jabari Smith will be the No. 1 overall pick by the Orlando Magic and the same for Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren as the No. 2 to the Oklahoma City Thunder. They are very confident that Duke's Paolo Banchero will go No. 3 to the Houston Rockets as he's a -550 favorite.
One thing to keep in mind on betting these props: It doesn't matter which team picks in the slot, just that the player goes there. So, if the Magic were to trade the No. 1 overall pick – not expected – but Smith still went No. 1 and you bet that, it's still a winner.
The vast majority of NBA/draft experts believe it will be Smith/Holmgren in some order in the first two slots. Last week, the Rockets got thinner in their frontcourt by trading Christian Wood to the Dallas Mavericks (the deal will be official at the draft), seemingly opening up a spot for the 6-foot-10, 250-pound Banchero, who averaged 17.2 points and 7.8 assists as a freshman at Duke.
Houston doesn't really have a need in the backcourt because it has 22-year-old Kevin Porter Jr. at the point and 20-year-old Jalen Green, the No. 2 overall pick in last year's draft, at shooting guard. Rockets GM Rafael Stone recently had dinner with Banchero, who is arguably the most NBA-ready of the likely three top picks. He is +1400 to be the No. 1 overall pick and +750 as the No. 2. Banchero told reporters last week that he hasn't spoken to the Sacramento Kings, who pick fourth. That would obviously indicate Sacramento doesn't think he will be available when it's their turn to make a selection.
CBS Sports has compared Banchero to Ben Simmons. Banchero grew up playing guard before a growth spurt just before high school.
Bettors at Caesars are have been all over the place on wagering the No. 1 overall pick: "There have been sharps that have been fading Smith," said Eric Fenstermaker, senior trading manager at the book. "The same bettors that are betting Chet have also been betting Banchero. It's not like they knew who was going first, they just thought that they got wind of Smith falling. Then you have the bettors who see we're lower on Smith than the rest of the market, so the others are betting Smith based off that. It's just been creating incredible handle. It wouldn't surprise me if we wrote another six figures to this market over the next week."
Purdue guard Jaden Ivey is the +750 second favorite to be the third pick. Smith falling that far is priced at +1200 and Holmgren at +1400.
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