NBA Draft

2022 NBA Draft Betting Preview – Who will be this year’s first pick?

June 21, 2022

The 2022 NBA season is officially over. Golden State triumphed over the Celtics in Game 6 to take the Series 4-2, earning themselves their 4th Championship in 10 years and proving that they are the definitive force of modern NBA.

It is time now to look ahead to next season and we do this first by taking a look at the potential Championship winners of the future with the NBA Draft – which takes place later this week.

We take a look at the favorites to get picked first this Thursday.

Top 3 Picks

The first pick this year belongs to Orlando Magic, and so whoever is chosen first will be in good company historically. This is because exactly 20 years ago, in the 1992 draft,  Magic also had the first pick. In this draft, they chose none other than, Shaquille O’Neal. Who will join him? Let’s take a look at the favorites.

Smith, Jabari

Jabari Smith of the Auburn Tigers will be the player going into this year’s draft as the favorite to be picked first. This is the sentiment shared by most experts and, indeed, by our own odds ahead of the pick of Thursday, so it would be a big surprise if that was now to happen.

He looks every inch the perfect power forward combining a strong athletic build with innovative play with the added benefit of having an impressive free throw, clocking a 42% of three-pointers last year. While his PPA and APG are lower than his fellow power forward, Paolo Banchero, his overall gameplay is more convincing with additional defensive-switch ability that doesn’t unnoticed either.

There are some that say that he may not be a player that makes history as an all-time great, but he looks like the safest bet both for Magic and punters at home.

First Pick  – 124 | Second Pick +140 | Third Pick +550

Holmgren, Chet

A few weeks ago, this 7ft, 195Ib center from Gonzaga Bulldogs was a favorite to be picked first but she has since slid down to the ranking and the bookmakers now see him more likely to go second, if not third!

So, why is it that Orlando Magic is now looking less likely to opt for him? Well, this could be down to a lingering doubt held by some about the durability in the big leagues of the physically distinct, Holmgren.

A concern that is not warranted for Jabari Smith or Paolo Banchero who look NBA-ready. It could come to pass that Magic regret not snapping up this uniquely skilled young man if he proves his critics wrong next season at Oklahoma – permitting he goes 2nd and not first.

First Pick  +250 | Second Pick -148 | Third Pick +550

Banchero, Paolo

Banchero will head into this year’s NBA Draft just slightly behind Holmgren in the bookies’ favorites for the first pick. He comes off the back of a Final Four finish in March Madness with Duke and stands out as a player who looks like the full package. This has encouraged some pundits to even stick him as a potential first-round pick – which could be worth a punt! 

He is an assertive power forward who can dominate smaller defense which is what teams are looking for in this position. His one issue seems to be his performance from the 3-point line, securing a mere 33.8% success rate last season. Although in most other states he trumps the first-pick favorite, with a 17.2 – 16.9 PPG, a 7.8 – 7.4 RPG, and a 3.2 – 2 APG.

Despite this, it does look like Banchero is going to have to settle for a second or third pick. He is currently the clear favorite to go third at -355 to the Houston Rockets. Although at +185 compared to Smith’s -124, if you are looking for a bigger risk for more reward then you may want to still consider him as this year’s first pick.

First Pick +185 | Second Pick +400 | Third Pick – 355


This year’s NBA Finals MVP was awarded to Steph Curry, who is in his own pick was 7th. This goes to show being picked first is not everything, but year-on-year it remains one of the most interesting betting markets. However, at Unibet, there are plenty more betting markets available. With us, you can bet on any of the first 5th picks, as well as the position a player will be drafted and the number of players from a specific college.

Click here to find more betting options available to you at this year’s NBA draft.