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FrontPageBets projects the top 5 picks in the 2022 NBA Draft

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NBA Draft Forwards Basketball

Duke forward Paolo Banchero has the physicality to adapt quickly to the NBA game.

Auburn's Jabari Smith remains expected to be selected first by the Orlando Magic in the NBA Draft on Thursday night.

Smith, a 6-foot-10 forward who played just one college season, piled up big numbers for the Tigers (16.9 points, 7.4 rebounds). He comes from an NBA pedigree, his father and namesake playing in the Association from 2000 to 2005 with the Sacramento Kings, Philadelphia 76ers and the then-New Jersey Nets.

Smith is -550 to go first. All odds, corresponding to pick number, courtesy of DraftKings. Read more on Smith at the Opelika-Auburn News.

Smith is expected to set off a forward-heavy barrage at the top of the draft. With deals possible to shake up the order, here's what FrontPageBets expects to happen when commissioner Adam Silver starts calling names from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. N.Y. 

No. 2 pick, Oklahoma City Thunder: Chet Holmgren, forward, Gonzaga (-650)

The 7-foot, 195-pound Holmgren needs to bulk up to compete against the world's best. He excels as a 3-point shooter and a shot-blocker, but questions remain about how well he can defend against more physical opponents.

No. 3 pick, Houston Rockets: Paolo Banchero, forward, Duke (-650)

Seemingly the most NBA-ready body in the draft, the 6-10, 250-pound Banchero should slide right into the Rockets' lineup. He contributed 17.8 points and 7.2 boards per game for the Blue Devils and is just scratching his potential. Read more on Banchero at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

No. 4 pick, Sacramento Kings: Jaden Ivey, guard, Purdue (-200)

Ivey is considered the fourth-best talent in this draft class. But Sacramento, set at guard, will likely seek to deal the pick for the 6-4, 195 pounder. The Washington Wizards could be a likely suitor. Ivey put up 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists for the Boilermakers.

No. 5 pick, Detroit Pistons: Keegan Murray, forward, Iowa (+140)

As the Pistons made a pre-draft deal with the Blazers, sending them Jerami Grant, Murray remains the favorite at No. 5. The 6-foot-8, 225 pounder could see fast playing time. Murray averaged 23.5 points and 8.7 rebounds for the Hawkeyes. Read more about Murray at the Quad-City Times

Editor's Note: This story was updated to reflect the latest odds for the 2022 NBA Draft as of Thursday, June 23.

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Gerry Ahern is senior content editor for FrontPageBets. A 35-year veteran sports editor and digital media executive, he has led coverage of the biggest events in sports, from Super Bowls, to Final Fours, to Olympics, to the Masters.


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