The top three picks in the 2022 NBA Draft did not go as planned. There was a firm belief Jabari Smith Jr. would get taken first overall by the Orlando Magic, followed by Chet Holmgren then Paolo Banchero. Instead, it was the Duke star with the top pick to the Magic, Holmgren to the OKC Thunder, and Smith Jr. falling to third, going to the Houston Rockets.
Well, it appears the Rockets were actually confident Smith would slide to third overall, and once they knew the Magic would take Banchero, they tried to pull off a draft-night trade.
Hours passed. Once the Rockets were convinced Orlando was going with Banchero, Houston reached out to the Magic to make a trade offer to get up to the top pick, sources said.
The Rockets wouldn't have made an offer if they were certain Smith would slide to them, sources said, but they were concerned about having to make a decision on Holmgren without time to digest his medical information.
The Thunder were always the team expected to take Holmgren but even though there was a firm belief Smith was a lock for the Magic, they actually never committed to that. It was allegedly the media pushing the narrative. The Rockets never worked out the ex-Auburn star but his agent did give them medical information on his client.
Perhaps the Magic engaged in talks with Houston but had zero intention of ever striking a trade at the top of the draft. Banchero will be a seamless fit for them, while Smith Jr joins a promising core with the Rockets consisting of Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr, Alperen Sengun, and others.