2022 NBA Draft Odds, Pick, Prediction: How to Bet Jabari Smith’s Draft Postion
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: Jabari Smith #10 of the Auburn Tigers.
Jabari Smith NBA Draft Odds
I wrote a full breakdown on Jabari Smith’s strengths and weakness (you can read that here), but here are the main things you need to know if you’ve never watched him play.
The guy absolutely oozes stardom. His body, his handle, his shot, his swagger… Smith looks and feels like a future superstar. He’s also only 18 years old, a full year younger than Holmgren and Ivey and half a year younger than Banchero at the top of the draft. In the NBA draft, youth means upside.
Teams need to think about not just whether Smith is better than those three, but also whether he’ll be better a year from now than those three are right now at a similar age. And it’s hard not to get excited imagining his future.
Smith is walking bucket — he’s 6-foot-10, but he plays like an oversized wing. He gets the ball at the top of the arc, takes a jab step or two, dribbles between his legs, and pulls up for an unguardable 3-pointer. He can create his own jump shot anytime and anywhere.
You’ve seen some comps so far, and they’re all about the jump shot. Michael Porter Jr. is an obvious outlet for Smith, or a fully realized Jaren Jackson Jr. Smith has the body of Channing Frye but the game of someone like Jamal Murray or Malik Monk. He’s going to shoot and score a lot, and we’ll probably see him in a 3-point contest someday.
The question is what else Smith will be able to do in the NBA. Can he get into the paint and attack the rim? Can he develop as a passer so he can punish opponents who shift too far his direction, taking advantage of his shooting gravity? How far can the defense come, and can he engage more on that end when he doesn’t have as huge of an offensive role on an NBA team?
Remember, Smith is still just 18, so he’s only scratching the surface. He looks like a potential star at the next level and has any number of avenues to get there. Smith is easy to fall in love with, and that’s why he’s the favorite to be the No. 1 pick.
How to Bet Jabari Smith’s Draft Position
So how do we bet Jabari Smith, if at all?
Smith remains the betting favorite to go first and has been at the pole position since lottery night. His odds were near even that day, but they shifted slowly toward the -500 range at most books before receding to somewhere between -150 and -200 as we approach the draft and hit smoke-screen season.
Smith had no value as his number ballooned, but he’s inching back toward value. At -150, Smith is an implied 60% to be drafted first. If you’re confident he goes first something like two-thirds of the time (67%), then that’s worth paying the juice. Considering Smith has stayed atop most mock drafts this entire time, that’s a reasonable enough bet.
The one thing virtually everyone seems to agree on is that Smith is a lock to go top-two; if he doesn’t go first, the Thunder run to the podium to take him. Smith is +165 to go No. 2 at FanDuel, an implied 37.7%. That makes him a combined 97.7% implied to be a top-two pick.
If you think he’s an absolute lock to go in the top-two picks, that’s 2.3% of value. You could bet something like 1.5 units at No. 1 -150 and 0.95 units at No. 2 +165 and theoretically “lock in” a profit of +0.05 units, but you also lose everything if Smith drops to third or later.
With the odds so tight right now, this is a pass for me, but this will still move right up until the draft. The margins will be tight, so you’ll have to be prepared to pounce quickly if you think you have an edge and want to bet Jabari Smith.