NEW YORK – The No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft is the Orlando Magic. And at this point, it is no secret who they intend to choose on Thursday night.
“I’ll be surprised if they do not take me to No. 1,” Jabari Smith Jr., Auburn ‘s top consensus candidate, told Yahoo Sports. “He’s just my competitive character mixed with my selflessness and ability to just shoot the ball, defend a lot of positions and care about winning. I’m not interested in statistics. I feel like I can help any team right away. But I feel that I am the No. 1 choice “.
Smith has only worked for Orlando and the Oklahoma City Thunder, owners of No. 2 overall pick.
“The city of Orlando was very nice,” Smith told Yahoo Sports. “They are headed in the right direction. They have a new coach, Jamahl Mosley. It was wonderful to talk to him. It was good to talk to GM and you can tell they are heading in the right direction and the future is bright. I want to be a part of it. I can not wait.”
Some of the top prospects, including Smith, spent Wednesday afternoon at the headquarters of the National Basketball Association in downtown Manhattan, hosting a local basketball clinic and packing set for the benefit of Covenant House residents, an organization young people facing homelessness.
First Round Outlook Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero, Ochai Agbaji, MarJon Beauchamp, Malaki Branham, Dyson Daniels, Johnny Davis, Ousmane Dieng, Jalen Duren, Tari Eason, Jaden Hardy, Bennedict Mathurin, Keegan Murray, Jalems Sochan Mark Williams was also present.
“It’s just nice, man,” Smith told Yahoo Sports about the youth clinic. “You see videos of NBA players giving back, you see some of the best doing things like that. “So this is just good to reciprocate and help people in need and just to be here with the other players who are going to make their life dream come true.”
The 6-foot-11 forward had an unprecedented season at Auburn, averaging 16.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, one block, 1.1 steals and shooting 42% from three in 34 games.
Its flexibility and size intrigue NBA staff.
There were initially discussions about who would go to No. 1 when the Magic won the lottery plan. Holmgren was a safe bet for the slot machine for much of the 2021-22 college campaign.
But Smith said he always believed he could be the No. 1 choice, even when no one else believed.
“I just kept humble, I stayed down, I had my head down to work and I didn’t care about scores and virtual drafts,” Smith told Yahoo Sports. “I just focused on Auburn, I focused on my teammates and I focused on winning. I feel like I did it and everything else worked. And I feel that my selflessness stands out. I really do not care how many minutes I have. I really want to help the team. That’s how they grew up. And they always fed me to play the game the right way and to always care about winning and not about individual success. This is how I am”.
Being No. 1 comes with high expectations. The previous three number 1 selections of Magic turned out to be superstars.
Shaquille O’Neal was taken in 1992, Chris Weber was selected the following year and traded on Golden State Warriors No. 3 draft day, Anferny Hardaway and Dwight Howard in 2004.
Smith is expected to have great company.
“The No. 1 options like LeBron James and so many others, there is a lot of pressure. “They will characterize you as a bust very quickly if you do not produce,” Smith told Yahoo Sports. “I know that for most No. 1 selections, it’s a bit difficult to go to the league with a focus on winning, but that’s exactly what I want to do. I do not really care what people say about me. I just want to go to the playoffs in my first year and the rest will take care of themselves. “I know that if I win, I do something right.”
The day of the plan has finally arrived. NBA commissioner Adam Silver will shout his name and his life will change forever. This is the moment he is waiting for, a moment he envisioned in front of the masses.
“I’m a little nervous, man, as everyone should be,” Smith told Yahoo Sports. “You have worked for it for so long and it is like a dream come true. So I’m excited and a little nervous. “I’m just ready for the day.”