NBA Draft: Smith, Holmgren, Banchero expected to be first picks



Former Auburn forward Jabari Smith is expected to be teh No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Photo by Jacob Taylor/AU Athletics

June 23 (UPI) — Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr., Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Duke’s Paolo Banchero are expected to be the first three picks of the 2022 NBA Draft, which tips off at 8 p.m. EDT Thursday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

First-round draft coverage will air on ABC and ESPN. Each team will be allotted five minutes to make its pick. The Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings and Detroit Pistons have the first five selections.

The Indiana Pacers, Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, San Antonio Spurs and Washington Wizards also have picks inside the Top 10.

Smith, who averaged 16.9 points in his freshman season at Auburn, is the consensus No. 1 pick in most mock drafts. The All-American’s 6-foot-10 frame, versatility, pull-up jump shot ability and outside shooting prowess should immediately help the Magic.

“For a personal goal, I want to win Rookie of the Year,” Smith said Wednesday on ESPN. “My main goal is to make the playoffs. With whatever team I go to, I want to make the playoffs and start a winning culture.”

Holmgren, a 7-foot center, nearly averaged a double-double, with 14.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game in his All-American freshman campaign at Gonzaga. He also was a valuable defender, with 3.7 blocks per game for the Bulldogs.

His skill as a ball-handler, despite his height, smooth shooting stroke and defensive timing should be too hard for the Thunder to pass up at No. 2 overall.

Banchero also chose to leave Duke after a stellar freshman campaign. The 6-foot-10, 250-pound power forward used his excellent size and strength to make explosive plays last season on offense and defense. He also could be moved between forward and center at the next level.

The Thunder and Spurs each own a draft-high three picks in the first round. The Rockets, Memphis Grizzlies and Charlotte Hornets each hold two first-round selections.

I predict Jaden Ivey and Keegan Murray to be the respective No. 4 and No. 5 picks in my latest 2022 NBA mock draft.

Ivey, a 6-foot-4, guard, posted 17.3 points per game in his sophomore season at Purdue. Murray, a 6-foot-8 forward, ranked No. 4 in the nation with 23.9 points per game last season as a sophomore at Iowa.

Former Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji, the 2022 NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, also should be an early- or mid-round selection. The 6-foot-5 All-American averaged 18.8 points per game and made 40.7% of his 3-point attempts last season for the national champion Jayhawks. Agbaji also earned 2021-22 Big 12 Player of the Year honors.

The second round of the 2022 NBA Draft will follow the first round and air Thursday on ESPN. A total of 58 players are slated to be selected through the first two rounds. The Pacers, Magic, Toronto Raptors, Thunder and Magic own the first five selections of the second round.

Each first-round pick is expected to sign a contract with their new team, which includes two guaranteed years and team options for two additional seasons.

Pistons point guard Cade Cunningham, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, was paid more than $10 million for his rookie campaign.



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