The pick soon will be in.
It’s draft-day eve, meaning the weeks of speculation over who the Orlando Magic will select with the first pick in the 2022 NBA Draft soon will come to an end.
Who the Magic will take from the presumed top options of Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero remains a mystery, just as it did when we did our first mock draft roundup after the Magic won the lottery.
Though nearly all of the most recent mock drafts have the Magic selecting Smith, including our very own draft guru Aaron Goldstone.
Here are the latest mock drafts showing who the experts think the Magic will select on Thursday night. Click on each for the full mock draft.
SB Nation - Jabari Smith
I do not envy the decision Orlando’s front office has in front of them, this was no easy task. I gave all three top big men (Smith, Chet Holmgren, and Paolo Banchero) a look here. If I were running the Magic, I think I would lean towards taking Banchero, but I wanted to make this as realistic as possible (and I’m not convinced Orlando is seriously considering him).
I went with Smith because I think his combination of elite shooting and defensive upside plays in this league on any team/within any ecosystem. I’m not worried about his handle and limited ability to create space in one-on-one situations (or his finishing ability). He just turned 19, and I think his upside is as strong as anyone’s in this class. - Aaron Goldstone, Orlando Pinstriped Post
ESPN - Jabari Smith
Orlando has been diligent in evaluating its options beyond Smith atop the draft, working out the likes of Holmgren, Jaden Ivey, Keegan Murray and Shaedon Sharpe. Every NBA team we’ve talked with expects Smith to end up being the pick here — any other scenario would be a major surprise to league executives. Smith, whose only workouts have been for the Magic and Thunder, makes quite a bit of sense here, as he’s arguably the best shooter in the draft despite standing 6-foot-10 and is more than a full year younger than Holmgren, the No. 1 prospect on the ESPN Big Board. The intensity level and versatility Smith brings defensively will be attractive as well, along with the fact that he checks every box that NBA teams look for from a character and competitiveness standpoint. - Jonathan Givony
Bleacher Report - Jabari Smith
Though the Magic are believed to be considering Holmgren and Banchero, Smith remains the favorite. The team picking first never wants to worry about risk, and Holmgren’s body and slower delivery when creating have evaluators a tad bit nervous. Smith, a year younger and widely praised for his maturity and approach, feels safe to everyone, and he’s perceived to offer the same level of upside as anyone in this draft with a skill set that Orlando could use. - Jonathan Wasserman
CBS Sports - Jabari Smith
No change on this front as far as I can tell. Smith not only fits into the Magic’s organizational emphasis on length and versatility, but he can also put the ball in the basket — something Orlando desperately craves. The criticisms about his ability to create off the dribble are valid, but with his frame, athleticism and silky shooting stroke, there’s reason to believe Smith will eventually develop into a No. 1 scoring option. - Colin Ward-Henninger
The Athletic - Jabari Smith
Smith was the guy at No. 1 in the immediate post-lottery mock draft, and he remains that guy here as we start draft week. I’m not as certain as some of my media colleagues as to call this a lock. Orlando has done its due diligence on all of the top group of prospects in differing ways. I don’t think this decision has been made for weeks or anything like that, and we’ll just find out about it on draft night. Also, what were designed leaks in order to try to persuade Oklahoma City to call them to move up to No. 1? What is accurate? There are a lot of smoke screens across the league right now. I know this is not the answer that bettors want to hear right now as they try to place their bets on who goes No. 1, but I legitimately have thought throughout this process that Orlando’s decision is much more wide open than the consensus would indicate. - Sam Vecenie
The Athletic, Part II - Chet Holmgren
I think I might be the only person who thinks there’s a realistic chance Holmgren goes No. 1. Again: The story adds up. While most draftniks have Jabari Smith Jr. as the top-rated player (as do I), I don’t think that has ever moved the needle on how this front office thinks.
The Jeff Weltman-John Hammond front-office team in Orlando is also renowned for valuing length far more than most front offices, sometimes to its detriment (see Bamba, Mo), and sometimes hugely to its benefit (see Antetokounmpo, Giannis). While it’s overly reductive to say it’s the only thing the Magic look at — they took Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner a year ago, neither of whom had crazy wingspans — I’m not sure the lure of Holmgren’s rim protection will be resistible. - John Hollinger
Yahoo - Jabari Smith
Smith might be the youngest of the top three prospects, but he brings a wide variety of offensive skills that can be plugged into this Magic team right away. He has the length and athleticism to defend positions 1-4 and is the best shooting big in this draft class, averaging 42% from 3-point range, something the Magic desperately need some help with after shooting 33% from deep last season.
The Magic brought in Holmgren for one of their last workouts (Smith worked out for the team June 9), but there is so much to like about what Smith brings to the table right away with his elite shooting and defensive versatility. - Krysten Peek
Sporting News - Jabari Smith
The Magic appear to be locked in on Smith with the No. 1 pick, and for good reason. Smith will give Orlando the size, versatility, athleticism and perimeter shooting it desperately needs. He can play alongside Wendell Carter Jr. to make a terrorizing defensive frontcourt and he fits nicely next to last year’s standout rookie, Franz Wagner. Guards like Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony will make life easier for Smith as a spot-up shooter and if he can develop his shot creation skills, he’ll give the Magic a No. 1 scoring option down the road. - Kyle Irving
The Ringer - Jabari Smith
I’m still not 100 percent convinced the Magic take Jabari Smith Jr. here, even though all indications are he’ll be the selection. There’s just too much chatter about teams trying to trade for this pick. If the Magic play their cards right, they might be able to land Smith at a lower pick while accumulating additional assets. Sort of like how the Celtics effectively flipped Markelle Fultz for Jayson Tatum back in 2017. Fultz has turned into a solid player with the Magic, but he’s not the best player on a Finals team. Orlando needs that type of player. So for now, Smith is the first choice. The 6-foot-10 forward provides the type of defensive versatility and shotmaking this roster sorely lacks. Even though his ability to create is unproven, he’d be joining a team with ball handlers who need a target now. While he’s thriving off-ball, he can still work on his dribbling to hopefully someday become a player who can run the show late in the fourth quarter. At a minimum, he’s a potential All-Defensive team guy who can shoot over 40 percent from 3. If he improves his handle, he could become one of the league’s best players. - Kevin O’Connor
USA Today - Chet Holmgren
I’d still consider Auburn’s Jabari Smith the favorite to hear his name called with the first overall pick with Holmgren in Oklahoma City. But while virtually every other mock draft has the Magic selecting Smith, I still believe there is a chance Orlando selects Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren. Per Rookie Wire’s Cody Taylor, Holmgren recently met with the Magic front office, and Orlando reportedly has a “soft spot” for Holmgren. - Bryan Kalbrosky
Sports Illustrated - Jabari Smith
While the Magic haven’t tipped their hand on what they’re doing at No. 1, the likely choice remains Smith, who is viewed by many around the NBA as the draft’s best prospect. The Magic have brought in Smith, Holmgren and Paolo Banchero, among others, but it’s Smith who rival teams believe will be the choice, and it’s also notable that he seems excited to land in Orlando. While the Magic also have a soft spot for Holmgren, there’s some thought right now that his camp would prefer to land elsewhere. Smith is the top prospect on my board, and this decision is not something the Magic will necessarily have to overthink.
The Magic have several good pieces in place, including Franz Wagner, but don’t have a true focal point of their rebuild yet. Smith’s impeccable jump shooting, versatile, high-energy defense, and room to improve both physically and skill-wise make him an incredible player to build around. He’s a legitimate culture-setting player with his work ethic and attitude, his strengths are easily translatable, and he could accelerate toward stardom pretty quickly as he matures physically and becomes a more comfortable ball-handler. - Jeremy Woo