The 2022 NBA draft kicks off Thursday night as college basketball’s top players wait their turn to become the centerpiece of the NBA franchise.
There are a lot of questions about the top picks in this year’s draft. Will the Orlando Magic pick Auburn’s No. 1 shooter Jabari Smith, or pick Duke star Paolo Bankero or Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren? Will the Sacramento Kings trade the fourth pick? Is there a prospect outside of the top four who could move up on draft night?
Our experts will provide you with all the answers to help you make the best betting decision in this year’s draft.
All odds provided by Caesars Sportsbook
Jabari Smith is the favorite to take first place overall. Is Smith a win-win for the Orlando Magic, or is it better to pick another prospect like Chet Holmgren or Paolo Banchero?
Doug Kezirian, Sportzshala Betting Analyst: This is a difficult pass for me. While I personally would have chosen Smith, Holmgren and Bunchero have had enough buzz already. The draft bets are pretty wild, so I always prefer to avoid betting unless I feel very confident. Smith should bet, but don’t force this bet. Banchero’s odds went from 14-1 to +175 in a matter of days, so all value was gone. There is too much noise now.
Eric Moody, Sportzshala Betting Analyst: Instead of going with Smith, I would recommend going with Banchero on +175. According to NBA draft analysts, he is the best player available. Banchero averaged 17.2 points per game, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 39 games for Duke. He scored the most points of any true freshman, ranked sixth in rebounding and fifth in field goal percentage. The Magic finished 29th in PPG last season (104.8) and could use a scorer. With his unique combination of size and agility, Banchero can score at any level.
Andre Snellings, Senior NBA Sportzshala Columnist: All reports say that Smith is so much expected in the Magic that anyone else would be very upset if he was chosen. But according to Sportzshala’s NBA Draft Predictions, Holmgren and Bunchero are considered the top prospects in the draft, with Smith in third overall. The latter will be the subject of discussion on draft night, in early seasons, and probably throughout his career. These three players will always be compared against each other, but for the sake of draft bets, Smith seems like the safest move to the Magic.
Which game offers the most value in this NBA draft?
Erin Dolan, Sportzshala Rates Analyst: Keegan Murray over 5.5 (+210). The first three peaks (Smith, Holmgren, and Bankero) appear to have been determined, despite disputes over order. This leaves the Sacramento Kings in 4th and the Detroit Pistons in 5th. Since the Kings were reportedly considering trading their pick, I think Murray will top 5.5. He doesn’t fit the typical profile of a top 5 athlete. He turns 22 next month, and the top five players selected in the NBA draft over the past two years have all been rookies. Second, he scored most of his points in Iowa in the low stance, and at 6’8, he’s not tall enough to score against the NBA’s best defensemen there. He averaged 24 points per game and 9 rebounds in his second season, which is impressive, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he was selected after the fifth pick.
Tyler Fulgum, Sportzshala Rates Analyst: EJ Liddell over 21.5. Liddell was a great player at Ohio State, but at nearly 22, he’s one of the most promising players in the class. It also doesn’t offer elite length or athleticism. Expect the team to target him at the end of Round 1 or at the start of Round 2.
Kezirian: Bennedict Maturin to 6.5. I honestly feel like this prop will close at 5.5. Maturin is serious about being fifth, and I’ve heard on two podcasts that he doesn’t drop below sixth. His chances of becoming the fifth pick have dropped from 20-1 to +240 in the last week. Its 6.5 prop only showed juice shift. This is a very powerful play.
Moody: Jalen Duren is under 10.5 years old. Düren is a post-centric player and one of the youngest prospects in the class. He averaged an impressive 12.0 points per game and 8.1 rebounds as a rookie in Memphis. Duren was recently with the Portland Trail Blazers, who are seventh overall, but I would like him to move to the San Antonio Spurs. They don’t have an urgent need for a center, but the quality of the big men available, as well as the uncertainty surrounding Jakob Pöltl’s contract, could see them pick him this year. In a few years, Düren could become a real force if he can develop and maximize his fundamentals. San Antonio would be a great place for him to participate in a program that educates players. Duren’s chances of being drafted early are excellent anyway.
Snellings: Shaedon Sharp U7.5 (+160). Sharpe had a series of outstanding private practices that propelled him to the draft boards. He was the No. 1 player in his high school class and is one of the youngest prospects in the draft with incredible physique, explosive strength, and shooting ability.
What are you looking for when betting on the NBA draft? Are there any other prospects besides the top four (Smith, Chet, Paolo, Ivey) that intrigue you for the top 10?
Kezirian: In all drafts, the top of the first round is easier to predict than the bottom. Sometimes there is value with over/under draft position totals, but by now all odds have changed drastically. Therefore, the best approach is to attack it early on and then continue to consume information.
Capricious: Most draft analysts do not recommend drafting for compliance. As a result, you must choose the best of the available candidates, as you never know what your squad will look like in the coming years. While this is true at the top of the draft, finding the perfect pick for your team in the middle or late first round can increase your team’s chances of success. I was intrigued by Dyson Daniels, who signed with G League Elite last summer. The 19-year-old guard offers immediate and short-term value on both offense and defense, and the Atlanta Hawks could be the perfect landing spot for him. The Hawks don’t usually score much when Trae Young is off the court. Last season, Atlanta scored 119.3 points per 100 possessions played with Young, compared to 109.4 points without him. The addition of Daniels could help fill that void.
Snellings: I’m looking for informed momentum, fit, and a combination of benefits and risk/reward depending on each team’s situation. While I think teams should pick talents near the top of the draft, if the talents are similar, fit, advantage, and risk/reward factors come into play. I expect a team like the Rockets, for example, to climb to the top, because that’s where their team is. It wouldn’t make sense for them to rely on the most NBA-ready player at the expense of growth potential, because they’re not ready to win anyway. As far as “informed momentum” when it comes to a situation like three players and teams at the top of this draft, I think the prevalence of reporting around expectations of who a team likes plays a major role in predicting where they are.
Sharp gets my attention the most because he has the highest ceiling. His successful training streak indicates that his potential is quite achievable.
Fulgum: Sharp is a 6’5″ crazy athlete with a 7′ wingspan, massive arms and a claimed 49″ vertical jump. Sharp was considered the top prospect in the 2023 class before being reclassified to the 2022 class. He didn’t play a game in Kentucky last season, but GMs and NBA scouts shouldn’t mind him. He is only 19 years old and his physical features resemble Ja Morant. Sharp has the fifth shortest chance of being the first pick, so the market is showing what teams think of his potential. With the sale of C.J. McCollum to New Orleans, the Trail Blazers would be wise not to let Sharpe slip past them at number seven.
Do you expect any surprises in this draft? Prospects that could rise higher than their predicted draft position at Caesars?
Kezirian: There will always be surprises. The question is where – and I really think we could see him with the second overall pick. Sam Presti isn’t afraid to take risks and I wouldn’t be shocked if he picked Jaden Ivey at number two. Ideally, he would trade and still choose Ivey, but sometimes there is no one willing to trade. Presti once hooked up with Russell Westbrook, who had a very similar draft profile to Ivey. Guard Purdue is in second with a score of 20-1.
Capricious: One name that immediately comes to mind is Usman Dieng. The 19-year-old has just finished his first season with the NBL New Zealand Breakers. At 6ft 10in, weighing 200lbs and with a wingspan of over 7ft, Dieng offers many advantages as an NBA forward despite his disappointing averages. Maybe he will appear in the top 12 on Thursday night.