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The 2022 NBA Draft has a pretty clear top three, as Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren, and Paolo Banchero have separated themselves on most big boards ahead of Thursday’s draft. What order one has those three big men is up for debate, but the expectation was Orlando would be choosing between Smith and Holmgren, with Smith as the frontrunner to go to Orlando at most sportsbooks, Holmgren the expected selection of the Thunder at No. 2, and Banchero mocked almost entirely to the Rockets at No. 3.
Monday brought some significant change to those expectations, however, as books saw serious steam on Banchero to go No. 1, pushing his odds up from the 16-1 (or even 18-1) range all the way to 4-1 (or 3-1) by Monday evening. That is a significant change as sharp money hammered the long Banchero odds and forced oddsmakers to adjust their thinking that this was a two-man race for the top spot. Now, what remains to be seen is whether this is real intel or just a sudden belief that Banchero’s odds shouldn’t be that long considering how close most evaluators see the top three.
Matt Moore of the Action Network laid out a variety of potential reasons for the move, from Holmgren reportedly withholding medicals and reportedly having a preference for OKC to the simple fact that many evaluators put Banchero as the top player on their big boards. We’ll find out if the sudden Banchero steam was for good reason on Thursday night, or whether the initial projections will prevail. In any case, oddsmakers that took big money on Banchero at long odds will be sweating it out until the Magic make their selection.