We’ve made it, folks! The NBA Draft is officially upon us. We’re now just hours away from Adam Silver walking to the dais and announcing the first pick … and the second pick … and so on. So it’s time to hand out some final predictions.
We’ve come a long ways the last seven months as the draft has given us twists and turns. Paolo Banchero asserted himself early as the frontrunner to go No. 1. Then Chet Holmgren emerged. Then Jaden Ivey made his case. Even as the draft approaches Thursday evening, all four — well, at least three of the four, excluding Ivey — have a real shot at going first overall.
But in the homestretch, it’s Jabari Smith Jr. who sits atop our mock draft, which we formulated based on what we think teams will do. When the Magic won the lottery, it always seemed like he was the most logical selection given his high floor as one of the best shooters in the draft at 6-foot-10. And while betting markets have been shifting in recent days with Banchero gaining steam here, Smith, still the favorite to be No. 1, retains his spot here in this mock.
The draft could go a number of ways at the top but on down, we’re projecting a chalky top 10 as well. It’s a top-heavy draft with bigs, so after Smith at No. 1 we’ve got Holmgren going to OKC at No. 2, Banchero falling to Houston at No. 3 and Keegan Murray — a dark-horse contender to slip into the top five — going No. 5 to Detroit after Sacramento scoops up Jaden Ivey at No. 4.
There’s sure to be some last-minute movement and potential trades in the hours leading up to the draft, but for now this is our up-to-the-minute projection for all 58 picks in this year’s draft.