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

It seemed like the 2022 NBA draft pick was set in stone. Most draft analysts expected the Magic to pick Auburn forward Jabari Smith Jr., who has been tied to Orlando since the Magic won the NBA draft lottery.

Instead, the Magic defied those expectations, putting Duke in the top pick with Paolo Banchero. Orlando’s front office conducted what ESPN’s NBA draft coverage dubbed a “stealth operation,” and Banchero, who finished No. 1 overall, surprised even sportsbooks.

However, there were at least hints that Banchero might not be as far from being the No. 1 overall pick as the odds suggested.

MORE: Evaluating how all 30 teams performed during the 2022 NBA draft

Banchero’s chances of picking the No. 1 have fluctuated wildly in the weeks leading up to the 2022 NBA draft. Pickswise’s Jared Smith tracked Banchero’s chances from June 6 through Thursday night’s start of the draft. During those 17 days, his odds decreased significantly on numerous occasions.

date Banchero’s #1 Election Odds
6th of June +2600
14th June +1200
17th of June +2300
June 19th +1600
20th June +170
June 21st +260
June 22 +440
June 23 (morning) -210
June 23 (after Woj tweet) +1000
23 June (final preliminary draft) +195

The draft day move was particularly notable and was heavily influenced by ESPN’s leading NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski. With just under 12 hours to go before the draft began, Wojnarowski tweeted that the expectation was Smith would go with the No. 1 overall pick. This has caused Banchero’s ratings to collapse.

However, Wojnarowski later learned that Banchero was scheduled to be the No. 1 pick overall in the 2022 NBA draft. He broke the news during ESPN’s NBA Draft Pre-Show and tweeted the news.

This news helped Banchero’s odds shrink significantly before bets were closed on the No. 1 overall. Meanwhile, Smith’s No. 1 odds went from -10,000 to +125 in 12 hours.

MORE: Paolo Banchero is among the best-dressed in the 2022 NBA Draft

It’s unusual to see such significant line movement in the hours leading up to the event, but the 2022 NBA draft was an exceptional case. There was no clear No. 1 prospect in the draft, and most assumed the Magic chose between Banchero, Smith and Chet Holmgren with the No. 1 pick. Analysts had long viewed Smith as the top pick, but they were obviously misguided by Orlando.

Still, it seems like at least some astute bettors have argued that Banchero would be the pick. That’s probably why his chances have changed so much; Bettors bet significant money on Banchero at longer odds and sportsbooks responded by shortening them to reduce risk.

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