Magic 'Early in the Process' of Evaluating Jabari Smith, More for Top NBA Draft Pick

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJune 20, 2022

CHICAGO,IL - MAY 17: NBA Prospect, Jabari Smith poses for a portrait during the 2022 NBA Draft Combine Circuit on May 17, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images

Orlando Magic president Jeff Weltman isn't giving any hints on who the team will take with the top pick in Thursday's NBA draft.

In fact, Weltman would have you believe the team is still at its beginning stages of deciding.

"I tell you, it's still early in the process," Weltman told reporters Monday.

We're going to chalk this up to a little bit of predraft gamesmanship—mostly because it'd border on irresponsible for an NBA team to be in the "early" stage of deciding who to select with three days remaining before the draft.

The college basketball season ended nearly three full months ago; most teams have reached the absolute endpoint of their scouting process and will make decisions based on how the draft board falls. The Magic have the entire draft board at their disposal; it would be a surprise if they haven't already decided who to select.

"Dialogue is always ongoing," Weltman said. "But most importantly, we get to do what we want. That's the real benefit of having the No. 1 pick."

Auburn's Jabari Smith has been considered the favorite for the top selection since Orlando won the lottery. Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren and Duke's Paolo Banchero are considered the other two potential options, with Banchero being a distant third in that conversation.

Current odds favor Smith, Holmgren and Banchero coming off the board in that order.

This is the fourth time in franchise history the Magic have had the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. The team previously used the selection on Shaquille O'Neal (1992), Chris Webber (1993) and Dwight Howard (2004). Orlando traded Webber's rights as part of a deal for Penny Hardaway on draft night.