Last Updated Aug 27, 2022, 8:45 AM

2022 NBA Draft Predictions, Picks, Odds

The 2022 NBA Draft will take place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn this Thursday with the Orlando Magic set to kick off the festivities with the first overall pick following the draft lottery which took place back on May 17. The draft certainly isn’t the most entertaining event on the basketball calendar, but there’s always money to be made, so VegasInsider has you covered with a slate of best bets to help handicap Thursday’s first-round selections.

Player to be Selected First Overall

Best Bet: Jabari Smith Jr., Auburn (-160)

Not too long ago, Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr. (-450) was listed as an overwhelming favorite to be selected first in this year’s NBA Draft; however, that gap narrowed significantly within the last week or so, as the oddsmakers quickly raised Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren (+125) up the totem pole to be the first player to walk across the stage this Thursday, which in turn, lowered Smith’s odds to -160.

The Magic have kept relatively quiet about their top selection, and the latest reports coming out of Orlando suggest that a decision is still yet to be made, but the majority of league’s insiders still seem to believe Smith will be this year’s first overall pick; and while Holmgren’s ceiling might appear a little bit higher at this point and time, I can’t see Orlando taking a gamble on Holmgren at one with a much safer, well-rounded prospect in Smith also on the table (16.9 PPG, 43% FG, 42% 3FG).

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Player to be Selected Second Overall

Best Bet: Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga (-145)

If you like Smith to go first, the best bet on the table up front might be Holmgren to go second at -145, as the oddsmakers currently see the first two selections of the draft as a two-horse race between Holmgren (+125) and Smith (-160); and at most shops, Holmgren’s price tag to go second can be found at a slightly cheaper number (-145) than Smith’s to go one (-160).

Holmgren is a versatile seven-footer capable of shooting the longball efficiently and protecting the rim in a way that would benefit the Thunder immediately; and while there may be a few safer options down the list, Oklahoma City has stockpiled draft picks for years to come, so I fully expect them to play it loose and take a gamble on what could potentially be a generational talent in Holmgren at two.

Player to be Selected Top 10 Overall

Best Bet: Jalen Duren, Memphis (-150)

Memphis’ C Jalen Duren is slated somewhere between 9th and 11th in most first-round projections; however, those expecting him to fall to 11 are mostly optimistic Knicks’ supporters, considering Duren recently visited Portland for a solo workout, who owns the 7th pick, and San Antonio is also expected to draft a true center with the 9th  selection.

Duren is one of the youngest prospects on the board at 18-and-a-half years old; and with so much potential and versatility at 6’11”, 250 pounds; I highly doubt San Antonio will pass on him at nine, and that’s only if another team doesn’t jump up and grab him before then.

OU Draft Position

Best Bet: Keegan Murray, Iowa - Under 5.5 (-170)

Earlier in the year, Purdue G Jaden Ivey was seemingly destined to be a member of the Kings by way of the fourth pick in Thursday’s draft; however, the latest reports suggest that Sacramento isn’t quite sold on Ivey at four, which has sparked some optimism on several other fronts, especially Iowa G Keegan Murray’s, who’s expected to be the next wing off the board.

Murray's scoring ability isn't quite up to par with other top prospects at the position, however, he’s an excellent defender and would still elevate any lottery team at the offensive end immediately; so Detroit's probably going to have a real difficult time leaving him on the shelf at five, that is of course, if Sacramento also elects to pass at four.

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