For the fourth time in franchise history, the NBA draft will begin when the Orlando Magic are on the clock. And while Auburn forward Jabari Smith Jr. has emerged as the closest to a consensus top prospect among scouts polled by B/R for this 2022 class, early word among rival executives and league personnel at this week’s NBA Draft Combine suggests a strong possibility Orlando will favor Gonzaga 7-footer Chet Holmgren.
There’s little consensus of how the top three choices will unfold between Orlando, Oklahoma City (drafting No. 2) and Houston (No. 3), but most NBA figures believe those picks will be some order of Smith, Holmgren and Duke forward Paolo Banchero. Yet league figures have consistently mentioned the Magic front office’s affinity for length, particularly length on the perimeter, as a clue they’ll target Holmgren—considered to have the most guard-like skill package of the trio and the most superstar potential.
Magic president Jeff Weltman and general manager John Hammond piloted a Bucks front office that selected Giannis Antetokounmpo back in 2013 (Weltman departed Milwaukee a few weeks before that draft to take a prominent role in Toronto’s front office). The year prior, the Bucks chose UNC forward John Henson and his 7’5” wingspan. Hammond’s Bucks then selected the interminable Thon Maker at No. 10 in 2016.