We almost made it guys! The NBA draft on Thursday almost officially began. In just a few hours, NBA commissioner Adam Silver will step onto the platform and announce the first pick… and the second pick… and so on. So it’s time to hand out some final predictions.
We’ve come a long way in the last seven months since the draft has given us unexpected twists and turns. Paolo Banchero made himself known as a leader early on and became number one. Then Chet Holmgren showed up. Then Jaden Ivey did his thing. Even as the draft approaches Thursday night, all four – well, at least three of the four, with the exception of Ivey – stand a real chance of being first overall.
But at the finish line, Jabari Smith Jr. sits over our mock project, which we formulated based on what we count commands will do. When the Magic won the lottery, it always seemed like he was the most logical choice, given his high floor as one of the top shooters in the draft at 6ft 10in. And while the betting markets have been changing in recent days as Banchero gains momentum here, Smith, still the No. 1 favorite, maintains his place in this imitation.
The draft could go a few ways at the top, but we’re also predicting a shallow top 10 at the bottom. It’s a tough draft with big players, so after No. 1 Smith, we have Holmgren moving to OKC at No. 2, Banchero is behind Houston at No. 3, and Keegan Murray is a dark horse. the top five is fifth to Detroit after Sacramento takes Jayden Ivey in fourth position.
There will certainly be some last-minute changes and potential trades in the hours leading up to the draft, but for now, that’s our current forecast for all 58 picks in this year’s draft.