Jabari Smith

Southwest Notes: Hardy, Liddell, Pelicans, Smith, Eason, Matkovic

The Mavericks gave up second-round picks in 2024 and 2028 to the Kings in order to draft Jaden Hardy at No. 37, but they had the G League Ignite guard rated much higher, Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets.

Hardy was ranked No. 19 on Dallas’ draft board, which convinced Mavs — who had dealt their picks in both rounds — to jump back into the draft. He averaged 17.7 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 3.2 APG for the Ignite.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell was projected in mock drafts as a first-rounder and that’s where the Pelicans had him rated, Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune tweets. Liddell slipped down to New Orleans’ second-round pick at No. 41. The Buckeyes forward averaged 19.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 2.5 APG, and 2.6 BPG over 33.2 MPG last season.
  • Even though pre-draft rumors swirled regarding a potential trade of their lottery pick, Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon said the team didn’t have serious conversations about moving down from the No. 8 spot, Will Guillory of The Athletic tweets. They chose G League Ignite guard Dyson Daniels.
  • The Rockets were “beyond excited” that Jabari Smith was still on the board at No. 3 when the Magic pivoted to Paolo Banchero at the top spot, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. GM Rafael Stone wouldn’t indicate if he would have chosen Smith with the No. 1 pick but he was thrilled the Auburn forward was there for the taking at No. 3, saying it “made my night.” “He’s just so big and he moves his feet exceptionally well on the perimeter,” Stone said. “I don’t remember anybody at his size in college with his ability to stay in front and contain and contest on the perimeter. He’s also good on the interior.”
  • Stone and his staff were “sweating bullets” that LSU forward Tari Eason would drop to their pick at No. 17, Feigen adds in the same story. The Rockets view Eason as an elite defender. “Tari can play defense, man,” he said. “He plays really hard and he’s a great athlete and he’s really committed on the defensive end. Some defensive players contain. Very few are playmakers. I would definitely consider him a playmaker on defense.”
  • Pelicans draft-and-stash second rounder Karlo Matkovic is close to signing with Slovenia’s Cedevita, according to Antigoni Zachari of EuroHoops.net. The Crotian forward/center, selected 52nd overall, is expected to join New Orleans’ Summer League roster.

Rockets Select Jabari Smith Third Overall In 2022 Draft

The Rockets have selected Auburn forward Jabari Smith with the third overall pick of the 2022 NBA draft.

In 34 games (28.8 MPG) in his lone college season, the 6’10” Smith averaged 16.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.1 SPG and 1.0 BPG. Smith led the Tigers to a 28-6 overall and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, where the team lost in the second round to Miami (FL).

The 19-year-old earned numerous accolades for his standout season, including Consensus All-America Second Team, All-SEC First Team, and SEC Rookie of the Year, among others.

Smith has the ability to make an array of incredibly difficult shots in a variety of ways, including step-backs, fadeaways, pull-up jumpers in transition, and coming off screens. Despite facing frequent double teams, he converted 42% of his three-pointers and 79.9% of his free throws.

Smith is also viewed as an energetic, intense, and “highly versatile defender” who can switch across multiple positions, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. His shot-making prowess and strong defense should fit in nicely with a young Houston squad that struggled mightily to score last season — the Rockets were 26th in the league in offensive rating and 21st in three-point percentage.

Smith falling to No. 3 was unexpected, because for well over a month league insiders had him going No. 1 overall to Orlando.

Woj: Paolo Banchero Frontrunner To Be No. 1 Pick

6:56pm: Wojnarowski (Twitter link) now classifies Banchero as the frontrunner to be the No. 1 pick.


6:48pm: Duke forward Paolo Banchero remains “very much” in the mix for the No. 1 overall pick, Adrian Wojnarowski said on ESPN’s draft broadcast. Wojnarowski has since reported on Twitter that Banchero has emerged as a “significant possibility” to be drafted first overall (Twitter links).

The Magic are expected to select either Auburn’s Jabari Smith or Banchero, according to Wojnarowski, who says there’s a “real chance” teams’ draft boards could be blown up.

Virtually all reporting leading up to draft night has had Smith as the favorite to go first overall, with ESPN’s Jonathan Givony suggesting earlier this week that it would be a major surprise to most teams around the NBA if Smith isn’t Orlando’s pick.

As we relayed earlier today, oddsmakers around the country briefly made Banchero the betting favorite to be the No. 1 pick late last night, but those odds shifted back strongly in Smith’s favor after Wojnarowski reported this morning that the top three – with Smith to Orlando, Chet Holmgren to the Thunder, and Banchero to the Rockets – looked “increasingly firm.”

Draft Rumors: Pistons, Mathurin, Duren, Eason, J. Smith, More

People around the NBA have been “gossiping” about an incredible workout Bennedict Mathurin had with the Pistons, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who says there’s chatter that members of Detroit’s front office are “infatuated” with the Arizona guard.

Jaden Ivey and Keegan Murray have long been considered the favorites to join Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren, and Paolo Banchero in the top five, but perhaps the Pistons will upend that expectation by targeting Mathurin. For what it’s worth, however, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link) still believes Murray is the favorite over Mathurin at No. 5 if Ivey is off the board.

Within his latest mock draft, Givony also reports that Pistons general manager Troy Weaver is one of Jalen Duren‘s biggest fans in the NBA. While Duren likely won’t be under serious consideration at No. 5, the Pistons could consider trading back into the first round if he slips at all, according to Givony, who points to the Hornets (No. 13 and No. 15) as a possible trade partner for Detroit in a deal involving Gordon Hayward.

Elsewhere in his mock draft, O’Connor writes that the Nuggets (No. 21 and No. 30) and Grizzlies (No. 22 and No. 29) have both made attempts to package their picks in an effort to move up in the first round.

O’Connor suggests Denver’s picks probably aren’t enough to move into the middle of the first round unless the team is willing to include a young player or another future pick. However, he writes that the Grizzlies have been exploring picks as high as the Knicks‘ selection at No. 11. In order to get that high, Memphis would presumably have to take on some unwanted salary or include another asset beyond the team’s two 2022 first-rounders.

Here’s more on the 2022 NBA draft, which is now just hours away:

  • Executives around the league keep connecting LSU forward Tari Eason to the Rockets at No. 17, according to O’Connor. Meanwhile, Zach Harper of The Athletic has heard from sources that the Celtics are also high on Eason and could try to trade into the first round using a young rotation player to draft him. An earlier report indicated Boston was open to discussing Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard, and Harper adds Aaron Nesmith to that list.
  • Auburn’s Jabari Smith tells Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that he’ll be surprised if he’s not drafted first overall tonight. Virtually every major sportsbook made Paolo Banchero the favorite to go No. 1 late last night, but those odds have since swung back in the other direction. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report speculates (via Twitter) that the Banchero buzz may have been related to contact he and his camp had with the Magic on Wednesday after a Monday visit was canceled, but Fischer — like ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski — reiterates that Smith remains the favorite to be the No. 1 pick.
  • Ian Begley of SNY.tv (video link) views Duke’s AJ Griffin as the most likely pick for the Knicks if they remain at No. 11.
  • The Raptors, who moved down from No. 20 to No. 33 in the draft as a result of their Thaddeus Young trade in February, don’t view the gap between those two selections as significant, according to Eric Koreen of The Athletic. As Koreen observes, there’s less of a consensus on prospects further down draft boards than there is at the very top, so several of the players drafted between Nos. 20 and 32 may not be at or near the top of Toronto’s board.

Woj: Top Three Picks In Draft Look “Increasingly Firm”

Despite some intriguing developments at sportsbooks, the top three picks in the draft still appear likely to play out as widely expected, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

According to Wojnarowski, a projected top three of Jabari Smith to the Magic at No. 1, Chet Holmgren to the Thunder at No. 2, and Paolo Banchero to the Rockets at No. 3 looks “increasingly firm.”

Woj’s report comes on the heels of oddsmakers listing Banchero as the new favorite to be selected first overall.

Smith, Holmgren, and Banchero have long been grouped together as the draft’s top three prospects and each have a case to be considered at No. 1, but reports for weeks have suggested a belief that Orlando is leaning toward Smith, with Oklahoma City likely to take Holmgren.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony wrote this week that virtually every NBA team expects the Magic to select Smith and would be very surprised if they go in another direction.

If Wojnarowski is right and there are no major surprises in the top three, tonight’s fun could begin at No. 4, where the Kings have been linked to both Jaden Ivey and Keegan Murray and are reportedly considering trading the pick.

Draft Rumors: Banchero, Possible Trades, Sharpe, Sixers, Wolves

A major swing occurred overnight in sportsbooks across the country, according to Matt Moore of Action Network, who tweets that every book with odds available for the No. 1 overall pick now lists Duke’s Paolo Banchero as the favorite to come off the board first.

It’s a fascinating turn of events with the draft just hours away, though it’s hard to ascertain what exactly it means. Do those oddsmakers know something about the Magic‘s plans that the general public doesn’t? Did some bettors swing the odds by placing significant wagers on Banchero, either because they have inside info or because they want to create more favorable odds for subsequent bets on Jabari Smith? Could a trade involving the top pick be in the works?

Most NBA reporters and draft experts have stated for weeks that it would be a surprise for anyone besides Smith to go to Orlando at No. 1. However, he’s far from the lock that recent first overall picks like Cade Cunningham and Zion Williamson have been. This 11th-hour swing in betting odds only adds more intrigue to the top of tonight’s draft.

Here’s more on the 2022 NBA draft:

  • The Pacers, Jazz, Celtics, and Pistons are among the teams believed to be looking into acquiring a pick in the back half of the first round, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Boston seems open to discussing young rotation players like Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard in those talks, Fischer adds.
  • The latest round-up of draft-related intel from Jeremy Woo of SI.com includes notes on Shaedon Sharpe, who continues to be linked to the Trail Blazers at No. 7; the Sixers‘ No. 23 pick, which rival teams believe will be dealt; and the list of teams thought to have interest in acquiring a second-round pick, which includes the Lakers, Jazz, Mavericks, Suns, Nets, and Heat.
  • Timberwolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said on Wednesday his team is “super open” to trading the No. 19 overall pick, per Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link). We’ve had countless conversations about using that pick to add a more quickly impactful piece,” Connelly said. “But 99% of these conversations are just theoretical.”

Givony’s Latest: Sharpe, Magic, Kings, Duarte, Suns, Knicks, More

Kentucky’s Shaedon Sharpe, perhaps the biggest enigma of the 2022 NBA draft, is the subject of several rumors in Jonathan Givony’s latest mock draft at ESPN.com (Insider link).

Givony has Sharpe coming off the board at No. 7 to Portland, writing that Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard is believed to be a fan of the young guard, despite the fact that Sharpe is 12 years younger than Lillard and is on a “completely different timetable.”

A pair of teams picking later in the lottery may also have their sights set on Sharpe. The Thunder, who hold the No. 12 pick, continue to pursue trade-up opportunities, according to Givony, who says Sharpe and Jaden Ivey are among the players Oklahoma City appears to be targeting.

Meanwhile, Sharpe is also said to intrigue the Hornets if they trade up from No. 13, Givony writes, noting that the Kentucky guard surprised other teams when he opted to work out for Charlotte.

Here are a few more of the most interesting tidbits from Givony’s newest mock:

  • Virtually every NBA team expects the Magic to select Jabari Smith first overall and would be surprised if they go in a different direction.
  • The Kings are considered more likely to stand pat than to trade the No. 4 pick, but they’ve had discussions with almost every team behind them in the lottery and even some outside of the lottery, per Givony. Pacers wing Chris Duarte is among the possible trade targets the Kings have done their homework on, Givony adds.
  • Surprisingly, Givony has heard the Suns are among the clubs exploring trade scenarios involving the Pelicans‘ No. 8 pick. Givony suggests Phoenix could potentially include a player like Cameron Johnson in its offer to help create more long-term cap flexibility to retain Deandre Ayton.
  • There’s a widespread belief that the Knicks won’t end up picking at No. 11, Givony reports. they’re “aggressively” exploring scenarios in which they trade back or trade out of the first round.
  • Rival teams believe the Cavaliers are high on Ousmane Dieng, though he could be off the board by No. 14, says Givony.
  • Echoing multiple recent reports, Givony identifies Hawks big man John Collins as a major draft-day trade candidate. Givony goes a step further, suggesting that Collins could even be packaged with Kevin Huerter in a deal involving the Kings‘ No. 4 overall pick.
  • The Bucks (No. 24) are eyeing older prospects who could help them win right away, such as Andrew Nembhard, Jake LaRavia, Christian Braun and Ismael Kamagate, according to Givony, who has heard from rival teams that Milwaukee has also conveyed some interest in trading up into the teens, possibly for a big man like Mark Williams and Walker Kessler.

Draft Rumors: Banchero, Magic, Smith, Kings, Murray, Pelicans, More

As Matt Moore of Action Network details, several oddsmakers have significantly moved their betting lines on Paolo Banchero in recent days, signaling that he’s no longer considered as much of a long shot to be this year’s No. 1 overall pick. However, executives around the NBA still widely expect Jabari Smith to be the first player off the board, reports Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

According to Fischer, Banchero was scheduled to meet with the Magic on Monday, but sources close to the Duke forward remain skeptical that he’s receiving serious consideration at No. 1. Fischer suggests that Smith and his representatives have been the most enthusiastic about landing in Orlando, while Chet Holmgren and his reps are thought to prefer the Thunder, since they believe there’s a stronger infrastructure in Oklahoma City to support the big man’s development.

As for Banchero, sources tell Fischer that he’d be happy to end up with the Rockets. The Seattle native has connections with general manager Rafael Stone, who is also from Seattle, and likes the idea of forming a dynamic offensive duo with Jalen Green.

At No. 4, the Kings remain a wild card, according to Fischer, who adds the Spurs to the list of teams interested in moving up in the lottery. The Spurs and Pacers are believed to be eyeing Keegan Murray, while the Wizards and Knicks are targeting Jaden Ivey, Fischer notes.

The Pistons were previously identified as a team exploring a trade up to No. 4, but Fischer suggests Detroit has “projected a strong confidence” that Ivey will be available at No. 5 if Sacramento keeps its pick, since teams drafting behind the Kings are preparing for them to select Murray.

Here’s more on the 2022 NBA draft, which is now just two days away:

  • Teams drafting behind the Pelicans (No. 8) believe they’re a candidate to trade down, according to Fischer, who identifies the Thunder (No. 12) as a potential trade partner for New Orleans. Fischer says rivals suspect the Pelicans like Dyson Daniels and Bennedict Mathurin, so if at least one of them is still on the board at No. 8, they may be more inclined to hang onto the pick.
  • There’s a “strong possibility” the Rockets will look to further expand their Christian Wood trade with the Mavericks, which isn’t yet official. Dallas’ side of the deal would presumably remain unchanged, but Houston could tweak the structure of the trade by including another team and additional pieces. Fischer suggests a move related to the No. 17 pick could be folded into the transaction.
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic has heard from agents that many teams drafting in the second round – even in the 30s – are calling to see if certain prospects will agree to two-way contracts. That could result in some players who project as second-rounders ultimately going undrafted if they don’t want to accept a two-way offer.
  • Vecenie adds that many of the picks in the 30s are candidates to be traded, since teams without picks are pursuing those selections. The Lakers are among the clubs said to be very much in the market for a second-rounder.

Draft Notes: Magic, Sochan, Hardy, Daniels

While such comments typically produce eye rolls, president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman insists the Magic haven’t decided who they’ll take with the top overall pick, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press.

Weltman says “it’s still early in the process,” even though draft night is Thursday. “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.”

Orlando is expected to draft either Jabari Smith or Chet Holmgren.

We have more draft-related info:

  • Baylor’s Jeremy Sochan attended the Wizards’ pre-draft workout on Monday but didn’t participate due to an injury, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. Sochan sat out with a mild hamstring strain. Washington owns the No. 1o pick. Sochan is ranked No. 15 on ESPN’s Best Available list.
  • G League Ignite guard Jaden Hardy, ranked No. 22 by ESPN, worked out for the Sixers on Monday, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. St. Joseph’s forward Jordan Hall, Delaware guard Kevin Anderson, Alabama guard Keon Ellis, Baylor wing Kendall Brown and UNLV shooting guard Bryce Hamilton joined him, Pompey adds in another tweet. Philadelphia owns the No. 23 pick.
  • G League Ignite guard Dyson Daniels cancelled a visit with the Kings after receiving a green room invitation, Sean Cunningham of KTXL tweets. Daniels is ranked No. 6 by ESPN. Daniels is the second-ranked point guard behind Jaden Ivey, who revealed that he hasn’t had contact with the team holding the No. 4 pick.

Draft Notes: Holmgren, J. Smith, NBA Academy, Hornets

Chet Holmgren may not wind up joining Jalen Suggs with the Magic, but he’s been getting draft advice from his long-time friend and high school teammate, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Before both players headed to Gonzaga for one-year stays, they teamed up at Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis.

“He said try to slow things down as fast as you can because everyone at that level plays slow, even when there’s seven seconds on the shot clock, nobody rushes,” Holmgren said. “Everyone knows seven seconds is a lot of time — in the NBA, you can get almost two more actions in that [time]. Other pointers, tips like that, about the NBA style of play.”

Holmgren met with Orlando’s front office this week and will be under consideration for the No. 1 pick, although most draft experts expect Auburn’s Jabari Smith to be taken first.

There’s more on the draft:

  • Ryan Blake, who has been helping to direct NBA scouting services since 1996, views Smith as worthy of the No. 1 selection, per Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. Blake believes Smith will display skills that were inhibited by the more restricted college atmosphere. “His offensive game is going to be so much better in the NBA,” Blake said. “He had the confidence and maturity to play within the system at Auburn. You have a prototypical forward who can play two spots that can really almost be a Jayson Tatum-type of player. He has a great shooting stroke — the release [and] the soft touch. He’s a versatile defender. He’s intense. He’s moving his feet. He’s always looking around. He’s also a leader, too. He’s always in the mix.”
  • Josh Giddey was the first NBA Academy graduate to be drafted and three more players are expected to join him this year, Maurice Brooks writes for NBA.com. Dyson Daniels and Bennedict Mathurin will likely be lottery picks, while Hyunjung Lee is projected to be taken in the second round. The NBA Academy was created in 2016 to provide more opportunities for international players.
  • Six players will attend a workout for the Hornets today, the team announced on Twitter. They are Jules Bernard of UCLA, Nysier Brooks of Mississippi, Terrell Brown Jr. of Washington, Josh Carlton of Houston, Dereon Seabron of North Carolina State and Ben Shungu of Vermont.