Adrian Wojnarowski's Paolo Banchero Mistake Costly for Some Bettors

Jun 23, 2022; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Paolo Banchero (Duke) shakes hands with NBA commissioner Adam
Jun 23, 2022; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Paolo Banchero (Duke) shakes hands with NBA commissioner Adam / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 NBA Draft became one of the great sports betting stories of all time.

The Orlando Magic were able to keep the entire NBA world guessing since acquiring the No. 1 pick at the Draft Lottery in May. Since that night, many pegged Auburn's Jabari Smith as the favorite to be selected first. In reality, the team was eyeing Duke's Paolo Banchero, leading to a massive win for sports bettors and blemishes for NBA news breakers like ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Banchero Steam Leads to Doubt

The funny business started last weekend when Banchero went from +2200 at WynnBET Sportsbook all the way to +200 amidst a flurry of bets indicating that the Magic may be eyeing him No. 1 overall.

Despite all reputable mock drafts connecting Smith to the Magic, and projecting confidence, people were betting on Banchero, clearly indicating that there was more doubt than reporters were saying.

Early on Draft week, Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman noted how he enjoys how tight lipped the front office has been in the whole process, casting more doubt over the consensus favorite Smith being the decided selection. Smith had reached as high as -450 two weeks before the Draft, but Banchero was clearly picking up steam in the betting markets.

Draft Day Chaos

Early Thursday morning, Banchero took even more money in the market, going from +200 to -600 in a matter of hours as bettors flooded to back the Duke forward. This is an informational bet, and somebody who knows something decided to voice it, and bettors reacted.

However, it got crazier. All mock drafts still had the Magic taking Banchero, and the NBA's leading reporter Adrian Wojnarowski attempted to pour water on the rumor on the day of the Draft.

This sent the betting market into a tizzy. Most sportsbooks took down the No. 1 pick prop and reopened Smith as an overwhelming favorite as they attempted to mitigate the bets on this prop. I saw sportsbooks open Smith -10000 on Thursday morning. However, bettors kept backing Banchero as the day became a rollercoaster of odds movement with Smith going as low as -260 once again.

While Woj was projecting confidence that the Magic were going Smith, bettors were banking on Banchero.

15 minutes before the Draft, Woj joined the ESPN broadcast and announced that he had essentially been incorrect, and that Banchero was in fact in the mix for the No. 1 pick. He was wrong all along and the bettors were right.

"Vegas knows" is a super cliche term that I've come to loathe as sports betting becomes more prominent, but ultimately this is a seminal moment for the space.

Woj is the top news breaker in the sport, and what he says goes. However, not this time. People in the space were tipped off that there was doubt that Smith was going first, and that it was likely going to be Banchero, and they bet it. These are not massive markets so when strong opinions come in, the market is going to react in a big way and people are going to follow the steam all the way down.

While many basketball fans trust Woj, the lesson here is that you should keep an eye on the betting market and follow the people that are voicing their opinion in the No. 1 pick market as well as the reporters. Information is key and while Woj is typically correct, you may want to be more cautious.

This was a unique situation that had more variables in play than usual. Typically, we know who is the No. 1 pick early on, but this clearly had some funny business in the works.

Nobody truly knew in this case. Unfortunately for some, people trusted Woj at his word and bet likely in big sums that it would be Smith. It makes sense, but next time people need to be aware that there are people betting on the other side who clearly know something.

You can find all of Reed's bets HERE!