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Odds and Analysis for Who Goes #1 in the 2022 NBA Draft

| December 7, 2021 12:15 pm PDT

The race for the #1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft is officially on. Unlike past years, it feels like a legit toss-up at the moment. Oddly enough, it’s being priced like one, too.

If you felt strongly about who will go #1 overall in the 2022 NBA Draft, you may want to reconsider your approach. There are a few players talented enough to be involved in the conversation, but there are without a doubt two prospects racing toward the finish line.

To gauge who has a real shot at being taken with the first pick in next year’s draft, let’s look at the latest odds and break down the best prospects.

Odds for 1st Pick in 2022 NBA Draft

Chet Holmgren-105
Paolo Banchero+105
Jaden Hardy+700
Caleb Houstan+1100
Peyton Watson+1600
Jabari Smith+1800
Patrick Baldwin Jr.+2000
Jaden Ivy+2000
AJ Griffin+2000
Nikola Jovic+2200

The odds are going to change based on the site, but the pricing above was taken from Bovada. As things stand, the rangy Holmgren is the ever so slight favorite to go number one overall in the 2022 NBA Draft.

It’s clearly a two-man race, however, as Duke’s Paulo Banchero is right behind him at a similar price. Both players have the versatile skill-set and incredible potential that GMs crave in the 1st pick, but anyone betting on the draft needs to answer two questions.

  • Which player is the better bet to go #1 overall?
  • Can anyone else rise and unseat them?

Based on the current odds, and everything we’ve seen so far, the second question probably doesn’t truly need to be raised from a betting perspective.

However, bettors are always looking for value, and it’d be a mistake to not at least look at the other options.

To gauge how to bet on who will be the first pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, let’s look at the race up top, as well as the most likely challengers from the rest of the field.

Should Chet Holmgren Be Favored to Go #1 Overall?

Nick Sterling put together an early 2022 NBA mock draft in mid-October, and he landed on Holmgren being the first overall pick.

Why? Because nobody offers as much upside as Holmgren does.

By comparison, Banchero is undeniably the most polished, NBA-ready prospect in college basketball. If you need someone to enter The Association right now and potentially dominate, he’s the top pick.

But when looking at the long-term, Holmgren is potentially that elusive “Unicorn” player that people salivate over. He has his weaknesses, of course.

  • Slight frame
  • Lack of strength
  • Finishing through contact
  • Lateral quickness is questioned
  • Lack of dominance against top shelf competition

Noted, to be sure.

Anytime you’re as frail as Holmgren is, questions about strength, durability, and effectiveness arise. I agree they’re warranted, but there’s no denying Holmgren’s special skill set.

Here’s what Holmgren’s high school basketball coach had to say about his talent.

“The changing world of basketball is probably part of the reason why Chet’s rated as high as he is. That’s a hot commodity, having a stretch four or a big guy who can ball handle and shoot. He’s kind of entering his prime in the next few years at the right time.”

Holmgren’s appeal is that he’s potentially unguardable, and he can impact the game even when he’s not scoring.

Much like Kristaps Porzingis and Anthony Davis before him, Holmgren offers limitless upside based on his size, length, fluidity, shooting, basketball IQ, and an ability to create on the fly.

He isn’t a one-sided player in any regard, either. Just look at what he did in his Gonzaga debut.

  • 14 points
  • 13 rebounds
  • 7 blocks
  • 6 assists
  • 66.7% shooting percentage

Much has transpired since then, as Holmgren’s Bulldogs have lost two games to top-16 teams in Alabama and Duke. The latter loss offered a showdown against Banchero and losing that game may hinder his chances of going first overall.

All things considered, the talent and upside is there. Holmgren has his skeptics, and he’s not a runaway favorite by any means. But NBA sportsbooks are listing him as the favorite to go #1 overall for a reason.

Banchero Gives Bettors a Tight Race

If there is an obvious contender to take on Holmgren, it’s Banchero. He’s such a threat, in fact, that a lot of NBA Draft betting sites actually have him listed as the favorite to go first overall.

That will change all year, depending on the site. The question for bettors is if Banchero is actually worth your money, or if this is a losing race, no matter what.

It’s still early, but I don’t think anyone can call anything just yet. The odds alone tell you that, but as I mentioned, Banchero just feels like the most game-ready prospect for the next level right now.

Banchero isn’t the size/length freak Holmgren is, but he’s still an amazing player. Check out this breakdown by NBA Draft guru Mike Schmitz, displaying Banchero’s elite versatility.

A big draw with Holmgren is the wow factor. You just don’t expect a guy his size to do the things he does, and his frailty has to factor into the way jaws collectively drop, as well.

Banchero is just as impressive when you look at it the other way. He’s extremely well built, he offers terrific size and length, and is an absurdly well-rounded prospect.

Seriously, show me a flaw in this kid’s game.

Banchero can post up down low, he can create shots for himself, he can attack, he can hit from long range, he has a knack for scoring, and he can even defend.

It’s not like Banchero has reached his ceiling, either. He is just ready to perform at the next level right now, and it’s a bit frightening that he will probably only be getting better.

Who Else Can Challenge for the Top Pick?

Want supreme value when betting on who will go first overall in the 2022 NBA Draft? Then bet on Auburn forward Jabari Smith.

Soaring up a lot of experts 2022 NBA Draft big boards, Smith has put his name in the conversation to go #1 overall due to leading the Tigers to a 7-1 start, while putting up 16.9 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.

He’s another freshman just oozing talent, and much like Banchero, he has a skill-set that should make NBA teams believe he can contribute immediately.

Smith offers the same package of size, length, and offensive upside as Banchero and Holmgren. He’s extremely well-rounded and has the ability to make a positive impact on both ends of the floor.

What else does he offer? For bettors, he gives you a shot at insane value.

There are already some NBA mock drafts sliding him into the top spot, and when that starts happening, you start paying attention to those sick +1800 odds.

Jaden Hardy is one other guy that stands out. He presently has the third best odds to go first overall, per the top NBA betting sites, and he isn’t a big man.

As in, what if the team drafting first overall already has an elite big man, and falls in love with the G-League stud?

It’s kind of hard not to. He’s an extremely likable kid, and his scoring ability is undeniable. Watch him break down his own tape with NBA Draft guru Mike Schmitz.

It’s certainly possible someone gets enamored with him, as we saw unproven talents like Jalen Green and LaMelo Ball rise up draft boards last year, and it could happen again.

Hardy’s elite scoring ability (30 points per game in his last season in high school), rebounding, and playmaking make him a tantalizing prospect.

He may have to prove it in the G-League to cement his status, but at +700, sports bettors looking to the 2022 NBA Draft have to take notice.

Other Ways to Bet on the 2022 NBA Draft

Before I offer my early prediction for who will be the top pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, let’s take a second to look at all the other ways to bet on the draft in 2022.

There will be endless NBA Draft props and competitive pricing before draft night on July 29, but you can already get in on the action right now.

Here are the other 2022 NBA Draft props that can be found at Bovada.

  • Who Will Go 2nd Overall?
  • Who Will Go 3rd Overall?
  • How Many Draft Day Trades Will There Be?
  • How Many Players Will Be Traded?
  • How Many Draft Picks Will Be Traded?

All the attention is on who will be the first pick in the 2022 NBA Draft – and rightfully so – but there is money in predicting who will go second or third, too.

Beyond that, bettors can project how things play out as far as trades go, while there will eventually be other props dealing with specific player’s draft range, as well as the amount of players drafted from a particular school.

Whatever you decide to bet on, be sure you’re using the very best sites for betting on the NBA.

Who Will Be the #1 Pick in the 2022 NBA Draft?

You’re here because you’re wondering how to bet on the 2022 NBA Draft, but more specifically, you need a prediction for who goes #1 overall first.

It’s not going to be decided for some time, and I’ll admit it’s a wide-open race. Last year’s race was close, but for the most part, everyone knew Anthony Edwards was the top pick. And historically, there is some clarity by the time the draft rolls around.

I’m not entirely sure we will get a super clear picture by then, but logic tells me the top pick will be Paolo Banchero.

The price is likely as good as it’ll get, too. But really, when you look at the prospects, Holmgren might be a bit too risky to go first overall, and Banchero is built to dominate in the NBA right now.

Hardy is a solid option and Smith is an inexplicably amazing betting value. But Banchero is the total package, and a solid run with Duke later in the year may end up cementing his status as the top pick.

A lot could happen between now and then, of course. Duke could free fall, Banchero could get hurt, or one of the other contenders to go #1 overall could end up being too good to ignore.

Keep an eye on how the odds change, and monitor each player that is presently in the running. And if you plan on doing any better come July 29, be sure to brush up on our NBA Draft betting guide.

Guide for Betting on the NBA Draft
Noah Davis

Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at GamblingSites.com. Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.

When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.

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