Tuesday June 28, 2022

Paolo Banchero rubbing eyes

Jun 23, 2022; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Paolo Banchero (Duke) reacts after being selected as the number one overall pick by the Orlando Magic in the first round of the 2022 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
  • The Orlando Magic select forward Paolo Banchero with the first pick in 2023 NBA Draft
  • Orlando entered the draft as one of four teams with +100000 odds of winning the 2023 NBA Championship
  • See the updated title odds during the NBA Draft

To those calling this draft as chalk as it gets — how’s that for a twist?

The 2023 NBA Draft kicked off Thursday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and the Orlando Magic did the unexpected, veering off of talented big man Jabari Smith and taking Paolo Banchero with the first overall pick.

Was it a needle mover when it comes to the 2023 NBA Championship odds?

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Even with a potential cornerstone pick to go with a handful of top-shelf draft talent over the last few years, the short answer is no.

2023 NBA Championship Odds

Team Odds
Golden State Warriors +500
Brooklyn Nets +600
Boston Celtics +600
Milwaukee Bucks +750
Phoenix Suns +800
LA Clippers +800
Miami Heat +1400
Philadelphia 76ers +1600
Memphis Grizzlies +1600
Dallas Mavericks +1600
Denver Nuggets +2200
LA Lakers +2200
Utah Jazz +5000
Chicago Bulls +6000
New Orleans Pelicans +6000
Atlanta Hawks +6000
Minnesota Timberwolves +6000
Toronto Raptors +6000
Cleveland Cavaliers +8000
Portland Trail Blazers +10000
Charlotte Hornets +12500
New York Knicks +15000
San Antonio Spurs +25000
Washington Wizards +50000
Detroit Pistons +75000
Indiana Pacers +75000
Orlando Magic +100000
Sacramento Kings +100000
Houston Rockets +100000
OKC Thunder +100000

Odds as of June 23 at Caesars Sportsbook.

In fact, Orlando opened Thursday as one of four teams with the worst odds to win the title. They were joined by the SacTo Kings, Houston Rockets and OKC Thunder at far-out +100000 title odds.

Magic Take Banchero No. 1

Banchero cut his teeth in the Mike Krzyzewski’s ecosystem at Duke, and the 6-foot-10, 250-pounder put in work, leading the Blue Devils to the Final Four.

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In his lone college campaign, he averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 39 games this season.

Banchero can shoot, but he’s more a power player inside, who can feast in the pick and roll game. He’s a quick leaper, and should be a major contributor on the offensive glass.

Like most young players, his offense is miles ahead in his defense. If he can up that part of his game, he should be a major cog on an up-and-coming Magic roster. The lineup that consists of 2017 No . 1 pick Markelle Fultz, lottery picks from the 2021 draft in Fran Wagner and Jalen Suggs (both top-8 selections), as well as 2020 first-rounder Cole Anthony.

Holmgren Drafted by OKC

The Thunder stayed true to their draft expectations, taking Gonzaga giant Chet Holmgren with the second pick. No player was more scrutinized leading up to the draft.

The gangly big man is slight, checking in at about 200 pounds, but he’s long, with a 7-foot-6 wingspan. Where he makes his hay is on the defensive end, where he put up nearly four blocks a game.

His 12.6% block rate was top 10 in college, but what makes his game even more enticing is the offensive upside. He put up 14.2 points and 9.6 rebounds per game, while drilling 41.2% of his 3-point makes. It’s not the superstar-in-the-making OKC may have wanted in the draft, but when you have that many picks, it’s ok to take a swing here or there. Their odds remain the same.

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Smith Falls to Rockets at 3

The frustration was all over Smith’s face while Banchero was first to the stage to shake Adam Silver’s hand. Is that all the motivation he needs to be worth a flier with his 2023 Rookie of the Year odds?

The 6-foot-10 Smith is still the prototype NBA player you’d want to develop in a lab: athletic as hell, willing to defend, and the among the best shooters available.

He put up 16.9 points and 7.4 boards per game in his lone year at Auburn, and shot a brilliant 42% from downtown. On a Rockets squad that needs talent everywhere, Houston may have stolen the most talented player in the draft in the three-spot, while finding the perfect running mate for their explosive top pick from last year, Jalen Green.

Wings Dominate Rest of Top 10

The only true movement in the title odds during the lottery portion of the draft happened after the consensus three big men went 1-2-3, and the athletic wing/guards started coming off the board.

Of note, the Portland Trail Blazers shortened from +12500 odds to +10000 after drafting ultra-athletic Canadian Shaedon Sharpe in the seven spot. The Kentucky product didn’t play a single college minute, yet his high school reel and practice tape just oozes NBA talent.

If he maxes out his potential, newly acquired Jerami Grant turns into the best version of himself, and Damian Lillard comes back healthy, the Blazers may have been able to reload on the fly, and work their way back into a prominent playoff player.

Sharpe was the last of four super-scoring wings in the middle of the top 10. Keegan Murray is the biggest of the bunch, at 6-foot-9, and while he shot 63% inside the arc, he also drilled 40% from downtown. He can also play small-ball 4, and work in the high post. Murray was taken fourth by the Kings.

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Cade Cunningham should be feeding Jaden Ivey early and often. The Purdue product has NBA-level scoring ability already, and the fifth pick has the third-best odds of taking home ROY.

Just before Sharpe, another Canadian, Arizona Wildcats’ wing Bennedict Mathurin was scooped up by the Indiana Pacers. In his sophomore season, the 6-foot-6 wing poured in 17.7 points and 5.6 rebounds a game.

What’s the Best Bet?

There’s a reason these teams are in the draft lottery — they weren’t good last year. Landing a play-in spot would be a monster year for them.

Of the teams in the lottery, Portland stood out.  Injuries derailed their campaign, and new management started stripping down a roster that never fit right, and couldn’t compete in the West.

CJ McCollum, Norman Powell and Robert Covington were all shipped out, and the Grant acquisition shows they at least know bottom-5 defense isn’t going to cut it. The Sharpe pick also gives them size on the perimeter.

The Blazers are on the right path, and they possess one item no other lottery team has: an all NBA-talent in Dame.

That’s about as far as I would go as a long shot.

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