Paolo Banchero is Early Betting Favorite to Be No. 1 Pick in 2022 NBA Draft

Paolo Banchero Duke NBA Draft

  • Duke Forward Paolo Banchero is the current -105 odds on favorite to be picked first the in 2022 NBA Draft.
  • The no. 1 player from the 2021 Draft Class Chet Holmgren of Gonzaga is second at +105.
  • Banchero and Holmgren are both listed at +1000 to win Naismith Player of the Year honors this season in the NCAA.

Duke forward Paolo Banchero is the early betting favorite to be the first player picked in the 2022 NBA Draft.

According to the best NBA sportsbooks, the 18-year old from Seattle, Washington is the -105 odds on favorite to be picked first in the next NBA Draft. Gonzaga big man Chet Holmgren is second at +105 while G League Ignite’s Jaden Hardy is third with his +800 odds. Michigan Wolverine Caleb Houstan and UCLA’s Peyton Watson complete the latest Top 5 at +1000 and +1500, respectively.

Future No. 1 Pick?

Banchero opted out of playing for O’Dea High School in Washington last season but was named as the Gatorade Player of the Year in the state two seasons ago after averaging 22.6 points, 11 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1 block per game. Although Banchero has yet to make his NCAA debut, he looked ready for the season when we saw him at the Duke March Madness 2021 scrimmages.

The son of Washington Huskies all-time leading scorer Rhonda Smith, Banchero led O’Dea to the Class 3A championship during his sophomore season and was named to the 2021 Jordan Brand Classic and 2021 McDonald’s All-American team. He received several offers and was first thought to go to Washington. But he ultimately picked Duke and could follow Zion Williamson as the next top pick from the Blue Devils.

The 6-9, 235-pound Banchero has modernized his game for today’s power forward position. He is strong and athletic around the basket and has expanded his game to being a handling threat in transition, shooting off the dribble, and passing from the low post. Right now, no player in the Draft Class can match Banchero’s combination of versatility and physical talent.

Banchero and Holmgren Top Freshmen in the Naismith Odds

Banchero and Gonzaga unicorn Chet Holmgren are the top freshmen in the latest betting boards for the Naismith National Player of the Year award. At WynnBet, Banchero and Holmgren are currently tied for the third-best odds at +1000 with only Holmgren’s Zags teammate Drew Timme at +500 and Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn at +800 having shorter odds than the two upcoming college freshmen.

Holmgren is being viewed by some scouts as the prize of the 2022 NBA Draft and is the no. 1 ranked player in the 2021 Class. The 7-1 forward/center was named as the Gatorade Player of the Year and Naismith Prep Player of the Year as the best high school basketball player in 2021. Holmgren led the US to the gold medal in the 2021 U-19 FIBA World Cup, winning MVP honors during the tournament. His versatility has led to Kristaps Porzingis comparisons although he is ahead of Porizings in playmaking, defense, and creativity at the same stage entering his pre-draft season.

Meanwhile, the 6-4 Hardy is a walking bucket who hopes to become the first player from the G League Ignite to be picked first overall in the NBA Draft. On the other hand, Houstan is one of three Canadian players projected to be lottery picks in 2022 and he is expected to be the highest pick among the three. Watson was the 2021 Moore League MVP and is the highest-ranked player from California in the 2021 Draft Class.

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Shane Acedera / Author

Shane grew up watching the Magic & Bird rivalry but ended up rooting for Detroit's Bad Boys team in the 1990s NBA. He loves to tell sports stories and has been writing about sports since high school. When Shane isn't busy jotting down his thoughts, he's just chillin' at home with his wife Rocelle and their two dogs named Horry and Fisher. He recently added a new family member, adopting a handsome retired K-9 named Ranger.

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