Report: Jabari Smith to Go No. 1 to Magic in 2022 NBA Draft Barring 'Major Surprise'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJune 21, 2022

AUBURN, AL - JANUARY 19: Jabari Smith #10 of the Auburn Tigers reacts at the conclusion of the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Auburn Arena on January 19, 2022 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Auburn star Jabari Smith can probably begin to look at real estate around Orlando.

ESPN's Jonathan Givony reported Tuesday that Smith has emerged as the favorite to go No. 1 overall to the Orlando Magic in the 2022 NBA draft and that "any other scenario would be a major surprise to league executives."

Smith gave the impression he didn't expect to fall past the Thunder at No. 2 when he told reporters the Magic and Thunder were the only two teams on his workout schedule.

In his most recent mock draft, Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman projected the 6'10" forward to wind up in Orlando.

"Since lottery night, the assumption around the NBA has been that Orlando will take Smith," Wasserman wrote. "That's still whom NBA staffers would bet their money on at No. 1, but we're also hearing from teams that the Orlando Magic isn't out on Holmgren."

Wendell Carter Jr. is just getting his four-year, $50 million extension started, and Mo Bamba is eligible for restricted free agency as well. Throw in the $52.2 million potentially owed—only $23.4 million is fully guaranteed—to Jonathan Isaac and Orlando might have a lot of money tied up in its frontcourt for a franchise that's still rebuilding.

That shouldn't stop the Magic from selecting Smith, though. The 19-year-old has the potential to be the kind of franchise cornerstone Orlando has lacked since trading Dwight Howard in 2012.

In his one season with Auburn, Smith averaged 16.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 block. He also shot 42 percent on 188 three-point attempts.

Wasserman compared Smith to Jaren Jackson Jr. and Michael Porter Jr., highlighting his impressive shooting for his size and ability to hold his own defensively on the perimeter.

When the Magic are officially on the clock Thursday, general manager John Hammond and president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman shouldn't have much trouble figuring out what they're going to do.