Just hours before the start of the 2022 NBA Draft, there is still confusion about which player will be the No. 1 overall pick. Duke’s Paolo Banchero became the new betting favorite to be picked first overnight, though the top insiders expect Auburn’s Jabari Smith to come off the board first.

Smith entered the week as the odds-on betting favorite to go atop the draft to the Orlando Magic. Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren was viewed as his biggest competition. Banchero had been a distant third in the conversion for the No. 1 pick since the draft order was set with the lottery last month.

All of that changed with less than 24 hours left until the draft. Banchero leapfrogged Smith as the favorite to be Orlando’s pick. The Duke freshman was given -200 odds for the No. 1 pick at multiple sportsbooks. Smith’s odds could be found at +130 or +150.

Sportsbooks took odds for the No. 1 pick off the board Thursday morning. Just as that happened, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski maintained that the Magic are very likely to pick Smith.

According to Wojnarowski, Banchero is expected to go to the Houston Rockets at No. 3 overall. The Oklahoma City Thunder are expected to take Holmgren with the No. 2 overall pick.

Early in the 2021-2022 college basketball season, Banchero was favored to be the top pick in the draft. Banchero’s stock might’ve been highest when he scored 21 points and had just one turnover in a win over No. 1 ranked Gonzaga on Nov. 26. Holmgren had 16 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in the contest.

Banchero averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game in his one season at Duke. The 6’10 freshman shot 47.8% from the field and 33.8% from three-point range.

Smith became a candidate to go first overall in the middle of the season when Auburn became the No. 1 team in the country. The power forward averaged 16.9 points and 7.4 rebounds while shooting 42% from three-point range.

All three players are considered to be potential superstars in the NBA.

There haven’t been any reports of the Magic, Thunder, or Rockets entertaining the idea of trading their first pick.

2019 NBA Draft Board
The first round draft board is seen during the 2019 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 20, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Getty Images/Sarah Stier
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