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Report: Magic believed to favor Chet Holmgren with No. 1 pick

Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren

SPOKANE, WA - FEBRUARY 12: Chet Holmgren #34 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs reacts after a three-pointer during the second half of the game against the St. Mary’s Gaels at the McCarthey Athletic Center on February 12, 2022 in Spokane, Washington. (Photo by Robert Johnson/Getty Images)

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The consensus top three prospects in the 2022 NBA Draft: Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren, Auburn’s Jabari Smith and Duke’s Paolo Banchero.

Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel said on the ProBasketballTalk Podcast, based on what he was hearing, the Magic were most likely to draft Smith or Holmgren.

Can we narrow it further?

Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report:

early word among rival executives and league personnel at this week’s NBA Draft Combine suggests a strong possibility Orlando will favor Gonzaga 7-footer Chet Holmgren.
league figures have consistently mentioned the Magic front office’s affinity for length, particularly length on the perimeter, as a clue they’ll target Holmgren—considered to have the most guard-like skill package of the trio and the most superstar potential.

The intriguing possibility: Orlando has, deliberately or not, signaled an intent to pick Holmgren.

Mere speculation based on draft history is less convincing.

Magic president Jeff Weltman has drafted Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba. With the Bucks, Magic general manager John Hammond drafted Giannis Antetokounmpo. There’s a type here – long, athletic forwards.

Holmgren (7-foot with a 7-foot-6 wingspan) has the length advantage over Smith (6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan). But Smith, who moves so well defending on the perimeter, is a better athlete by most traditional measures.

Really, Holmgren is such a distinctive prospect – tall, rail thin, skilled, great touch, smart, high motor. That’s why opinion on him is so divided. It’s scary to draft a player lacking precedent. A unique profile can also portend greatness.

The primary question of his draft: How does Orlando feel about him?

Accurately or inaccurately, the scuttlebutt around the league says favorably.