NEW YORK – The NBA draft is Thursday at 8 pm ET, and there will be a lot of intel and speculation coming out the next few days as teams gear up for the big night. There is no clear-cut No. 1 overall pick like in years past, but Jabari Smith remains the safest pick at No. 1.
Here’s a breakdown of all the latest information coming out heading into the draft.
(This page will be continuously updated with the latest information and intel from around the league.)
Jalen Williams (Santa Clara) getting lottery buzz:
The 6-foot-7 junior out of Santa Clara shot up draft boards after his strong showing at the NBA draft combine and solidified himself as a first-round pick. After working out for a handful of teams, Williams’ stock has continued to rise heading into the draft and there are late rumblings that Williams could sneak into the lottery, anywhere from No. 8 (New Orleans Pelicans) to No. 19 (Minnesota Timberwolves).
“This process has just been a blessing,” Williams told Yahoo Sports. “I’m from a smaller school, but basketball is basketball and I feel like I can compete at the highest level, and I’m just ready to get to work for whatever team picks me.”
Projected No. 1 pick Jabari Smith stress-free 24 hours before the draft:
Yahoo Sports caught up with Smith in the host hotel of the draft and Smith was visibly calm and relaxed 24 hours heading into the draft.
“I feel great and I’m ready for tomorrow,” Smith told Yahoo Sports. “I might not sleep tonight, but that’s just because I’m excited for tomorrow.”
Las Vegas turning a corner on Paolo Banchero odds to go No. 1:
In the past 24 hours, Banchero’s odds to be drafted No. 1 overall on BetMGM have shifted from +900 to +200 (Chet Holmgren is now +225). That’s enough of a swing to believe the Orlando Magic are considering Banchero with the No. 1 pick (many say it’s a two-way race between Jabari Smith and Chet Holmgren).
Banchero is the most physically ready out of the top three players with his 6-foot-10, 250-pound frame. When Holmgren and Banchero went head-to-head last November, Banchero looked to be the better player as he posted 21 points, five rebounds and two assists in 30 minutes. A scout or executive from every NBA team was in the building watching Banchero excel in transition as the primary ball-handler and going toe-to-toe defensively with Holmgren.
This swing in Vegas could be an indication that Banchero had an excellent workout in Orlando, with Holmgren playing coy and not saying who he worked out for or how those workouts went.
Jaden Hardy picking up steam after strong workouts with the 76ers, Bulls, Thunder, Cavaliers and Hornets
Hardy was a top-five player coming out of high school and chose the G League Ignite route over college. He struggled with his shot selection, going up against older, stronger players in the G League. He feels more confident after going through workouts during this pre-draft process.
“Going into those workouts, I feel like I was the best player in every workout,” Hardy told Yahoo Sports. “That’s what I was aiming towards and every single workout went great so I feel good heading into Thursday.”
Jaden Ivey hasn’t met with Kings; what’s the latest on No. 4?
Purdue guard Jaden Ivey is a hot topic and has been a projected top-four draft pick all season long. The Sacramento Kings have the fourth overall pick, and Ivey told reporters Monday that he hasn’t worked out or met with the Kings during this pre-draft process.
The Kings could be entertaining trade talks with the Detroit Pistons or New York Knicks, or zeroing in on Iowa’s Keegan Murray for the No. 4 pick.
Ivey said he had workouts with the Orlando Magic (No. 1 pick), Oklahoma City Thunder (No. 2), Pistons (No. 5) and has been in contact with the Knicks.
It still wouldn’t be the craziest pick in the world if the Thunder take Ivey at No. 2. General manager Sam Presti drafted a similar guard in Russell Westbrook, and Ivey has said on numerous occasions that he models his game after Westbrook and Ja Morant.
Chet Holmgren keeping mum on workouts:
Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren is holding his cards close and is not revealing what teams he worked out for and met with. It’s a safe assumption that the only three teams he has worked out for are the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder and possibly the Houston Rockets, if he were to fall to No. 3.
Is Jalen Duren shooting up draft boards?
There’s a lot of late buzz surrounding Memphis center Jalen Duren and where he’ll land on draft night.
If the Kings take Keegan Murray at No. 4, and the Detroit Pistons want to add size in the frontcourt to give a decent pick-and-roll option for Cade Cunningham, Duren could be the shock of the lottery and either go at No. 5 or the Pistons could trade down for a team that wants to target Jaden Ivey. The likely scenario is that the Pistons would trade down for Duren, with a lot of teams high on the possibility of landing Ivey.
Dalen Terry inching closer to lottery:
Arizona guard Dalen Terry has the largest draft range and some scouts around the league say he could go as high as No. 14 to the Cleveland Cavaliers or No. 15 to the Charlotte Hornets.
A lot of teams like his 3-and-D versatility with his size and athleticism, and Terry could be a player who comes out of left field and shakes up the draft. His draft range is anywhere from 14-32.