Sources: Smith as No. 1 pick in ‘firm’ draft order

NBA

As NBA groups finalize their boards forward of Thursday evening’s NBA draft, sources have instructed 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 favourite to be chosen first general as of Wednesday evening. 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 via it.”

Smith, 19, averaged 16.9 factors and seven.4 rebounds in his lone season at Auburn, taking pictures 43% from the sector 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 20.8 factors and 6.4 rebounds.

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

That is the fourth time that Orlando can 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 obtained traded that very same evening for Penny Hardaway and a package deal of future picks that have been finally changed into Vince Carter and, later, Mike Miller. And in 2004, the Magic chosen Dwight Howard with the primary decide.

The No. 1 decide Thursday will be a part of a younger core in Orlando that already contains 2017 prime 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 Ultimate 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 general. 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,” Fenstermaker, a veteran Nevada bookmaker, instructed 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 another NBA market supplied 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.

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