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The NBA Draft is still months away but according to one insider, the top two picks have already been decided on.
Last week’s NBA Draft lottery locked in the order for the 2022 NBA Draft and put the Orlando Magic in the driver’s seat. In what is widely considered to be a class with a top tier of three big men — Duke’s Paolo Banchero, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Auburn’s Jabari Smith — landed in the No. 1 spot with a chance to pick the one they most preferred.
According to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, the Magic have already decided on Jabari Smith. It’s not that unusual for the No. 1 pick to be clear this far in advance but it’s a bit unusual in a class where there is no consensus top pick. What’s even more unusual is that Givony is reporting the Oklahoma City Thunder have already decided on Chet Holmgren at No. 2.
“…most NBA teams firmly believe that’s a formality and that Smith is all but assured to become the top pick. 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.”
How will Jabari Smith and Chet Holmgren work out as the top two picks in the NBA Draft?
Both Smith and Holmgren are elite talents with easily translatable skills. In Smith’s case, he is an elite defensive prospect with the agility and length to defend on the wing and protect the rim. He’s also a special jumpshooter with his developing self-creation ability the only thing standing between him and stardom.
Holmgren is a fantastic shot-blocker who, at 7-foot-1, handles the ball and shoots like a guard. He’s an incredibly unique player and we’ve never really seen someone of his size with a similar skill set. There are concerns that a lack of strength will limit his effectiveness at the next level, at least initially, but he does so many things well that his floor is still high.
These reports put the Houston Rockets in a somewhat more complicated position. Paolo Banchero is the other prospect in the top tier of most draft boards but his potential is almost entirely linked to his offensive upside. The Rockets could desperately use a defensive presence in the frontcourt. Maybe they go with talent and take Banchero. Maybe they get creative and explore some of the other options. Or maybe this pushes them towards a trade.
Even if we know the top two picks already there are still plenty of unknowns that should make for a fascinating draft.