Do You Believe in Magic Taking Jabari Smith Jr. First in NBA Draft?

Last Updated: Jun 28th 2022   Published: Jun 16th 2022   2 Min Read
Do You Believe in Magic Taking Jabari Smith Jr. First in NBA Draft?
Image ©Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

While the Celtics and Warriors are focused on winning an NBA championship, the rest of the league’s 28 teams are looking to next year.

The 2022 NBA Draft is a week from today (Thursday, June 23, 7:30 p.m. ET., ABC and ESPN) and the first three picks are starting to come into focus.

Orlando owns the first overall pick for the fourth time in franchise history and the Magic can only hope they strike gold again like they did 30 years ago when they selected some bad dude named Shaq.

This year’s draft doesn’t have a clear-cut No. 1 bound-for-the-Hall superstar, but the prospects are tantalizing.

There figures to be some major trades in the coming days, but for now, the Magic appear to have decided on their guy – again, according to sportsbooks (odds courtesy of our good friends at DraftKings) – and that young man is Jabari Smith Jr.

Smith is a versatile 6-foot-10 forward who averaged 17.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, two assists and 1.1 steals in 29 minutes over 34 games during his one season for the Auburn Tigers.

If he is taken first overall, Smith would be the first player from Auburn taken at No. 1.

He’s currently at -145.

And there’s a ton to like about his game, but it’s just that Gonzaga freak-of-nature center Chet Holmgren is even more intriguing.

Scouts love him, but I’m not sold on the rail-thin fella. He seriously needs to bulk up if he’s gonna last long in the NBA. I’ve seen too many skinny kids with potential turn into major busts.

We’ll do a deeper dive into the NBA Draft next week as Thursday looms large but it appears the Magic believe in Smith Jr.

I don’t. It’s going to be Holmgren (+115) and possibly for a different team if the Magic get an offer they can’t refuse.

In Orlando, Holmgren would be reunited with his good buddy, Magic rising star Jalen Suggs, whom Orlando drafted with the No. 5 overall pick in last year’s draft.

They would make a dynamic duo and Holmgren’s transition to the NBA would be made all the easier. Plus, a “unicorn” like the 7-foot, 190-pound Holmgren (who also has a 7-foot-6-inch wingspan) doesn’t come around often and his impressive potential will be too much to pass up.

Duke’s Paolo Banchero (-550) looks like a lock to be selected by Houston at No. 3.

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