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NBA Draft Rumors and Intel: The Orlando Magic’s Uncertainty, Jaden Ivey, Bennedict Mathurin and More

NBA Draft Rumors and Intel: The Orlando Magic’s Uncertainty, Jaden Ivey, Bennedict Mathurin and More article feature image
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Via Jeff Haynes/Getty Images. Pictured: NBA Prospects, Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith and Paolo Banchero look on during the 2022 NBA Draft Lottery at McCormick Place on May 17, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois.

As the 2022 NBA Draft inches closer and closer, the chatter around the league is really starting to pick up.

Typically the top of the draft order has settled at this point in the process, but I’ve already written about a potential shakeup in the top three. Let’s take a look at the top five picks, the markets, and what people around the NBA are saying with two days to go before the draft.

Orlando’s Uncertainty

Orlando is a known unknown with two days to go.

There’s been significant movement on Paolo Banchero’s odds to go No. 1 overall from +1600 on Sunday to +400 on Monday at most books. BetMGM took on an extra four percentage points of the handle in 24 hours. WynnBet tracked 37 bets on Banchero on Sunday, moving him from +2000 to +650.

Those odds continued to move at all US books Monday, ending the evening with Banchero at +250 or shorter.

There is noise about Banchero possibly being on the board for Orlando — just like there’s noise about Jabari Smith Jr. and Chet Holmgren.

No one’s sure, except the Magic, and the latest intel that was out there (as of last weekend) was that Orlando hadn’t decided, either. Magic general manager Jeff Weltman said as much on Monday in a press conference.

The best distillation of the situation is that the +1600 that Banchero was at on Sunday was not representative of his real odds of being selected first.

But the amount of movement his odds have taken on brings into question whether there’s been an overreaction, and it seems likely the value is gone.

The shortest odds for Smith are currently 58.3%, with a -140 at BetMGM. Those are likely a little short, given the uncertainty. Don’t be surprised if sharps buy back in at Smith to go No. 1 at this low number. It’s already moved back to -150 from -140 at FanDuel.

But the implied odds for Banchero at his longest number (28.6% at +250, DraftKings) and for Holmgren (23.3% at +330, Caesars) seem accurately priced. Banchero and Holmgren at an implied -107 and Smith at -140 represents a 14.29% hold if you believe only one of those three players will go No. 1 (as I do).

If you want to bet on the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, Chet Holmgren has the best value right now at +330 at Caesars, based on the uncertainty of the pick. If you want to bet on who’s most likely to be selected at a steeper price, it’s Jabari Smith.

The complications with the draft don’t stop there.

The top tier of this draft is Smith, Holmgren, and Banchero. Jaden Ivey is the second tier by himself, and many smart draft people agree. It’s never a consensus, but that’s been the feeling since the lottery.

However, that puts Ivey fourth, with a market consensus over/under of 4.5. Ivey is -170 to go fourth at DraftKings.

The only problem is that the pick belongs to the Sacramento Kings.

Enter the Kangz

Sacramento has been thought to be pursuing a win-now component with the pick to add to De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis as they attempt to break their 16-season-long playoff drought.

The Kings have talked with the Suns, Hawks, and Pistons about a deal involving the pick, but in recent days, predictably, there’s chatter they may keep the pick.

The trick here is that if the Kings really have decided to keep the pick, they would telegraph they are keeping the pick, and if they wanted to generate more pressure to get the offer they want in trade for the pick, they would telegraph they are keeping the pick.

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ESPN reported Monday that Keegan Murray is “gaining steam” as the possible fifth pick, and that owner Vivek Ranadive “is said to be a proponent” of drafting Murray.

Ivey is a favorite to go fourth, and Murray is the favorite to go fifth. This is despite Ivey’s transparent disinterest in joining a Kings team that already has De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell.

Teams are interested in moving up, and the Kings pick is at least available for discussion. The Spurs and Pacers are both thought to be interested in moving up for Murray but have doubts about their ability to put together a good enough offer.

So here’s where we hit a conundrum.

The better prospect (Ivey) is the favorite to go higher, but the logical pick (Murray) is a plus number to go in that slot. It’s of course, possible the Kings trade that pick to a team looking to take Ivey.

There’s also the fact that Benn Mathurin has gained a lot of steam in recent days.

One of Mathurin (over/under 6.5), Murray (over/under 5.5), and Ivey (-175 to go fourth, +175 to go fifth) are not going in the top five (barring a highly unexpected fall from one of the Big 3).

How to bet this?

I’d wait. Ivey is highest on the big boards and has the most prospect value. Murray has the most buzz, but Mathurin is the late climber. I just think these three spots are too uncertain to bet.

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