The Orlando Magic unexpectedly picked Duke forward No. 1, while favorite Jabari Smith fell to third place
The 'draft' of the NBA burst all forecasts. Paolo Banchero, an athletic forward trained at the prestigious Duke University, won number 1 in the lottery when he was chosen by the Orlando Magic, to the surprise of the experts, who predicted that the highest choice would fall on Jabari Smith. The Auburn star ultimately fell to third place and will play for the Houston Rockets, while second place went to Chet Holmgren, a 'unicorn' from Gonzaga University who fulfilled his goal of joining the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Paolo Napoleón James Banchero is a promising 6-foot-1, 19-year-old forward who averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists in his only NCAA season, becoming the fifth Duke player to is chosen with the number 1 of the 'draft' of the NBA. Follow in the footsteps of Art Heyman (chosen in 1963 by the New York Knicks), Elton Brand (chosen in 1999 by the Chicago Bulls), Kyrie Irving (first pick in 2011 by the Cleveland Cavaliers) and Zion Williamson (draft star in 2019, being drafted by the New Orleans Pelicans).
The son of a father of Italian origin and an American mother who also stood out in college basketball and was "drafted" by the WNBA, Banchero will join the wide range of emerging talent of the Orlando Magic who entrust their future to evolution from the Jalen Suggs, Wendell Carter, Mo Bamba, Cole Anthony, Jonathan Isaac and company. The Florida team finished last season with a balance of 22 wins and 60 losses that made them the worst team in the Eastern Conference, but they have high hopes for the litter of young stars at the disposal of coach Jamahl Mosley.
"I can't believe what just happened," Banchero confessed once the NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, pronounced his name as the first draft pick. "I never would have thought this would happen. He wanted to be in the NBA; he didn't know he would be (number 1). This is incredible », added the forward, who has an Italian passport and has expressed his intention to wear the shirt of the transalpine team.
It is the fourth time that the Magic have chosen first in the draft and Banchero will have to work very hard so that his career does not detract from that of his three predecessors: Shaquille O'Neal (1992), Chris Webber (1993, although immediately traded to the Golden State Warriors) and Dwight Howard (2004).
A 'unicorn' for the Thunder
Within the planned script, Chet Holmgren's number 2 did appear, a generational talent whose versatility the Oklahoma City Thunder will be able to take advantage of. 2.13 meters tall center, he plays as if he were a shooting guard and has a good medium and long distance shot. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.9 rebounds in his only season at Gonzaga University and had 117 blocks, matching the record set in the 2018-19 season by Brandon Clarke, who now plays for the Memphis Grizzlies. Months ago it was expected that Holmgren could be number 1 in the 'draft', but the player born in Minneapolis did not want to join the Orlando Magic, since he saw a better opportunity to develop in the Thunder.
Jabari Smith will disembark, for his part, in some Rockets that signed the worst record in the NBA last season, with a balance of 20 wins and 62 losses, after seeing how a number 1 of the 'draft' that seemed to have in him escaped hand. The forward, 2.08 tall and 19 years old, is considered the best shooter of his promotion and has just averaged 16.9 points and 7.4 rebounds with the Auburn 'Tigers', signing a 42% success rate in the throws of three. "I can fit into any system in the NBA with my shooting ability and my love of defense," Smith said once his luck in the draft was known. "I can walk in and make an instant impact," he added.
The 'top ten' of the 'draft' was completed by Keegan Murray, a power forward trained in Iowa who will reinforce the Sacramento Kings; Jaden Ivey, an athletic point guard from Perdue who will join the Detroit Pistons roster, where he will form an attractive perimeter duo with Cade Cunningham, the No. 1 draft pick in 2021; Bennedict Mathurin, an explosive Canadian shooting guard who was drafted sixth overall by the Indiana Pacers; Shaedon Sharpe, another Canadian shooting guard chosen by the Portland Trail Blazers with seventh place despite not having played a single minute with the University of Kentucky in the NCAA; Dyson Daniels, an Australian point guard who will join the New Orleans Pelicans; Jeremy Sochan, a 2.05 meter power forward who will play for the San Antonio Spurs; and Johnny Davis, a shooting guard selected by the Washington Wizards with the 10th pick after shining in Wisconsin.