June 27, 2022

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Prepared for heavyweight havoc? Welch needs to choose a battle…

As NBA groups finalize their boards forward of Thursday night time’s NBA draft, sources have advised ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the order of the highest three picks is “more and more agency,” with Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr. going to the Orlando Magic at No. 1, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren to the Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 2 and Duke’s Paolo Banchero to the Houston Rockets at No. 3.

The 6-foot-10 Smith labored out with the Magic earlier this month and was the consensus betting favorite to be chosen first total as of Wednesday night time. Magic president Jeff Weltman indicated Monday that the group was still undecided on its plan for the draft, saying “it is nonetheless early within the course of.”

Smith admitted he was “nervous” heading into his exercise with the Magic however stated it was “enjoyable to get out right here and push myself and get by way of it.”

Smith, 19, averaged 16.9 factors and seven.four rebounds in his lone season at Auburn, taking pictures 43% from the sphere and 42% from 3-point vary. In opposition to groups that have been ranked within the Related Press Prime 25 when going through Auburn, Smith averaged 20.eight factors and 6.four rebounds.

The 7-foot Holmgren additionally met with the Magic final week and praised the franchise, saying the group is led by “nice individuals.”

That is the fourth time that Orlando shall be making the No. 1 decide. The Magic took Shaquille O’Neal with the highest choice in 1992. Chris Webber was the No. 1 decide by Orlando in 1993, and he received traded that very same night time for Penny Hardaway and a bundle of future picks that have been ultimately changed into Vince Carter and, later, Mike Miller. And in 2004, the Magic chosen Dwight Howard with the primary decide.

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The No. 1 decide Thursday will be a part of a younger core in Orlando that already consists of 2017 high decide Markelle Fultz, a pair of top-eight picks from the 2021 draft in Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs, and Cole Anthony — the No. 15 decide within the 2020 draft.

Banchero, who helped lead Duke to the Remaining 4 in coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final season, surged previous Smith to emerge Thursday morning because the consensus betting favourite for the No. 1 decide, earlier than sportsbooks eliminated odds from their boards.

Smith’s odds had improved to -275 as of Wednesday earlier than being handed by Banchero, who was listed by Caesars Sportsbook at -200 to be chosen first total. Smith was the second-favorite at +140 at Caesars, whereas Holmgren was +1,100 on Thursday, earlier than sportsbooks started taking odds off the board.

“It is the weirdest draft market I feel I’ve ever booked,” Eric Fenstermaker, a veteran Nevada bookmaker, advised ESPN’s David Purdum on Wednesday.

Since Sunday afternoon, there had been extra bets on Banchero to be the highest decide than there had been on every other NBA market provided at Caesars Sportsbook. On-line sportsbook PointsBet additionally reported a surge of betting curiosity on Banchero to go No. 1.

ESPN’s David Purdum and The Related Press contributed to this report.