Paolo Banchero to Rockets becoming increasingly clear as NBA draft approaches

There was a strange shift in gambling odds overnight, but order has been restored and it seems the Duke star is likely headed to Houston

Photo by Matt Young

June 23, 2022

Paolo Banchero of the Duke Blue Devils signals a teammate against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the Final Four semifinals of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Caesars Superdome on April 2, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Lance King/Getty Images

After more than a month of speculation about how the top three players in the NBA draft — Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr., Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Duke’s Paolo Banchero — would be placed, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the three are in the order everyone assumed will start immediately after the conclusion of the drawing lottery.

Multiple insiders are reporting that when the draft begins Thursday at 7 p.m. ESPN, the Magic will be sticking to their plan and nab Smith with the number 1, which will result in the Thunder taking over Holmgren and leaving Banchero for the Rockets .

Despite various smoke screens over the past five weeks, this has been the suspected order for some time, but betting odds changed dramatically overnight, raising some eyebrows when suddenly Banchero was the gambler’s favorite to be No. 1 overall. Things calmed down on Thursday morning and Smith became the odds favorite again and most betting sites cut odds entirely when ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday morning that the Smith-Holmgren-Banchero order was “getting tighter.”

The Thunder have floated the idea that they could take Banchero in 2nd place, but that might just be another smokescreen to try and lure the Rockets into a trade to level up and make sure they land the Duke Star.

Of the three, Banchero is considered the NBA’s most ready. He’s measured 6-foot-10.5 shoeless this month and will be a walking disproportion even in the NBA. When he lands in Houston, he’ll be right up front in the starting lineup but can take on some of the playmaker’s duties due to his superior grip and passing ability.

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