Last week, a report surfaced from The Athletic which indicated that the Magic were leaning towards selecting Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren with the first overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.
That was based off Orlando’s affinity for selecting prospects with length, which the 7-foot-0, 190-pounder has a surplus of. But if you were to ask NBA teams who they think the Magic will take with the pick, it appears another prospect would be the choice.
ESPN Jonathan Givony reported Tuesday that most NBA teams believe “that [Jabari] Smith is all but assured to become the top pick.” Givony added that Smith appears to be thrilled with that development, while that would leave Holmgren as the Thunder’s selection at No. 2.
“While Magic executives have made it clear they will conduct a thorough process — even extending beyond the widely believed top three prospects in Smith, Holmgren and Paolo Banchero — most NBA teams firmly believe that’s a formality and that Smith is all but assured to become the top pick,” Givony wrote. “Smith, for his part, appears thrilled with that development. So is Holmgren over his looming marriage with the Oklahoma City Thunder, which is also the overwhelming expectation from NBA executives with whom we spoke at the draft combine.”
In looking for length, the Auburn forward has plenty of his own, coming in at 6-foot-10, 220 pounds. While not the undisputed best high school player in America like Holmgren was, Smith was no slouch himself. Smith was the No. 6 overall player in the class of 2021, per ESPN, behind Holmgren and the Duke forward Banchero, (No. 4) who is expected to be the third overall pick, which is held by the Rockets.
Smith shined in head coach Bruce Pearl’s offense in 2021-22, leading the Tigers to a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. He played in 34 games, averaging 16.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG and 2.0 APG. Smith proved to be a do-it-all shooter, knocking down 42.0% of his threes and 79.9% from the free throw line.
Adding Smith would only bolster Orlando’s young and exciting core, which features the likes of Franz Wagner, Cole Anthony, Wendell Carter Jr., Markelle Fultz and Jalen Suggs.
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