By Mark Strotman | | 9 mins
2022 NBA Draft 1st Overall Pick Odds: Jabari Smith or Chet Holmgren?
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There’s no professional sport in which rookies make more of an immediate impact than in the NBA. You can do the long-term research on your own, but consider the last four No. 1 overall picks and how they’ve fared early in their careers:
- 2018 - Deandre Ayton: Averaging 16.2 points and 10.5 rebounds and made an NBA Finals trip last season.
- 2019 - Zion Williamson: Averaged 27.0 points on 61% shooting as a 20-year-old All-Star in 2021.
- 2020 - Anthony Edwards: Averaging 20.1 points through 135 career games and is second on the playoff-bound Wolves in scoring this season.
- 2021 - Cade Cunningham: Averaging 21.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.0 assists since the All-Star break as a rookie.
You have to go back to 2017 for the last bust at No. 1—sorry, Markelle Fultz—and then 2013 before that—sorry, Anthony Bennett. But since Derrick Rose in 2008, the top spot has produced All-Stars in nine of the last 12 classes, and that’s not including Ayton. Edwards and Cunningham eventually will be, too, which would make it 12 of the last 14 top picks becoming All-Stars.
Get the picture? The top pick matters. And this year’s class features three bigs with unique skill sets that, at this point in time, all have a shot of becoming the first overall pick.
Which team secures the right combination of Lottery balls may impact who goes first, but we’ll handicap the odds as DraftKings has them right now.
NBA Draft 2022 First Overall Pick Odds
NBA futures odds via DraftKings and accurate as of publication.
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Looking for a prototypical inside-out stretch forward? Look no further than Jabari Smith. The five-star Auburn freshman is incredibly athletic and also shot 42% from beyond the arc this season. That’s a heckuva combination.
Though he’s not super quick or an elite defender, his size and athleticism makes up for a lot and gives him a good base for an NBA team to work with. Working in Smith’s favor, too, is that he won’t turn 19 years old until May. He’s one of the youngest players in the class—he’s six months younger than Banchero and a full year younger than Holmgren—and that matters during draft time.
We know draft pundits say it every year, but we really mean it: There has never been a prospect quite like Chet Holmgren. He’s all of 7-feet tall, has remarkable handles, elite shot-blocking capabilities and an incredible feel for the game.
Oh, and he’s made 39% of his 3-pointers this season. He’s had a truly elite freshman season and he projects as a high-floor, high-ceiling player. Holmgren has all the makings of a franchise player. He’ll make his mark early on the defensive end and his offense will become polished in no time.
Duke has had three top picks since 1999 and all have panned out pretty nicely: Elton Brand (1999), Kyrie Irving (2011), and Zion Williamson (2019). Could Banchero make it four? He’s the quintessential point forward that teams are beginning to build their offenses around.
As a freshman, Banchero averaged 17.0 points on 48% shooting, 7.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists. He can score at all three levels, he creates for others and he’s big enough to get by on defense. He checks just about every box for NBA teams.
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Anything can happen, but if we’re being honest, there is no real value in the field on betting sites. These three players have stood out among their peers dating back to high school.
If you feel inclined to really run with a long shot, Ivey is the best play for NBA betting fans. He’s a combination guard and the top backcourt option in his class. If the team that earns the first pick is loaded in the frontcourt (there aren’t many of them), maybe it goes with a backcourt option instead.
Our Pick For 1st Overall Selection
You really need to see Holmgren play to truly appreciate his game. He’s Anthony Davis-like with some true guard tendencies. Davis, of course, was the consensus top pick in 2012 for obvious reasons—and has put together a Hall of Fame career to date.
While we won’t mark down Holmgren for a trip to Springfield just yet, his attributes and unique skill set will ultimately make him the top pick. Grab this value on betting apps while you still can.
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