How Paolo Banchero’s NBA Draft betting odds changed wildly before Magic selected him with No. 1 overall pick

It seemed as though the No. 1 pick was set in stone heading into the 2022 NBA Draft. Most draft analysts expected the Magic to select Auburn forward Jabari Smith Jr., who had been tied to Orlando since the Magic won the NBA Draft lottery.

Instead, the Magic defied those expectations and took Duke forward Paolo Banchero with the top selection. Orlando’s front office executed what ESPN’s NBA Draft coverage described as a “stealth operation,” and Banchero going No. 1 overall even surprised sports bettors.

That said, there were at least inklings that Banchero might not be as far from being the No. 1 overall selection as the odds indicated.

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Banchero’s odds to be the No. 1 pick swung wildly over the weeks leading up to the 2022 NBA Draft. Jared Smith of Pickswise tracked Banchero’s odds from June 6 through the beginning of the draft on Thursday night. His odds shortened significantly on numerous occasions during that 17-day span.

Date Banchero’s No. 1 pick odds
June 6 +2600
June 14 +1200
June 17 +2300
June 19 +1600
June 20 +170
June 21 +260
June 22 +440
June 23 (morning) -210
June 23 (after Woj tweet) +1000
June 23 (final pre-draft) +195

The movement on draft day was particularly notable, and it was heavily influenced by ESPN’s premier NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski. Just under 12 hours before the draft began, Wojnarowski tweeted that the expectation was that Smith would go with the No. 1 overall selection. That is what caused Banchero’s odds to come crashing down.

However, Wojnarowski later learned that Banchero was expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. He reported that during ESPN’s NBA Draft pre-show and tweeted the news.

That news helped Banchero’s odds shorten significantly before betting for the No. 1 overall pick closed. Meanwhile, Smith’s No. 1 pick odds went from -10,000 to +125 in a 12-hour span.

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It’s unusual to see that type of significant line movement in the hours leading up to the event, but the 2022 NBA Draft was an exceptional case. There wasn’t a clear-cut No. 1 prospect in the draft, and most presumed that the Magic were choosing among Banchero, Smith and Chet Holmgren with the No. 1 pick. Analysts had long pegged Smith as the top choice, but they were evidently misdirected by Orlando.

Still, it seems like at least some sharp bettors reasoned that Banchero would be the pick. That’s likely why his odds shifted so significantly; bettors put significant money on Banchero at longer odds, and the sportsbooks responded by shortening them to mitigate their risk.

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