THE 2021-22 National Basketball Association (NBA) season came to a close with the Golden State Warriors defeating the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals.
With the season over, the offseason kicks off this week with the 2022 NBA Draft. Major sportsbooks, including BetMGM and DraftKings, are projecting where tomorrow’s stars might be selected.
The NBA draft is Thursday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The draft lottery draw led to the Orlando Magic having the first overall pick, where Auburn’s versatile second-generation star Jabari Smith is expected to be the selection.
The Oklahoma City Thunder, followed by the Houston Rockets and the Sacramento Kings, are up next in the first round.
As of now, which prospects align with those teams is unclear.
Inarguably, the favorite as the top draft pick, as well as the leader of what will be a very talented pool, is Jabari Smith, Jr. The Auburn University product is following in the footsteps of his father, who played in the NBA, as well as Spanish and Mexican leagues.
The forward spent one year at Auburn and averaged 16.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.0 blocks in 34 college games, shooting 42% on 3-pointers.
Smith is projected to be a lock for being one of the top three picks.
Duke’s Paolo Banchero and Chet Holmgren of Gonzaga are also viewed as sure top picks.
Included in the wave of international talent available are France’s Ousmane Diengo, projected for the first round, and Serbian Nikola Jović.
A big unknown: Where Canadian Shaedon Sharpe winds up.
The explosive shooting guard signed with the Kentucky Wildcats in September of 2021, but did not play last season.
THE 2 SPOTBetMGM and DraftKings have Smith, Jr. as the first overall pick and recent movement provides him with an even bigger lead over the field.
Smith, who is also getting most of the action, started at -105 when lines opened, but was -165 as of June 20.
Holmgren is the hedge. A high school teammate of the Magic first-round pick last season, Jalen Suggs, the 7-footer is now getting strong odds to be the first pick. He opened at +145, but recently moved to +115.
Even so, Holmgren already made it clear that his preference would be to slide to the Thunder at No. 2.
Banchero is heading in the opposite direction on BetMGM. He opened at +350 to be the first pick and is now at +1500.
Smith controls 27.1% of the action, while Holmgren currently has 24.5%. Banchero is receiving 16.5% of all the bets.
A similar ranking is found at DraftKings. Smith’s current odds to be the top pick are -175. Holmgren is in second place with current odds of +150.
Banchero rounds out the top three, getting +950 odds to be the first pick.
Smith is getting most of the action on DraftKings.
He has 38% of the handle, as well as 28% of the bets. Holmgren follows with 34% and 24%, respectively. Banchero is getting 23% and 21%. — Reuters