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Orlando Magic make Paolo Banchero the No. 1 pick in NBA draft

In a surprise move, the Orlando Magic made Duke’s Paolo Banchero the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft on Thursday.

The 6-foot-10, 250-pound power forward is the fourth No. 1 pick in franchise history, joining Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, and Dwight Howard.

Banchero was chosen over early favorites to be taken No. 1: Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga) and Jabari Smith (Auburn).

“I don’t even know what to say,” Banchero said to ESPN immediately after he was picked. “I can’t believe what just happened. I never would’ve thought that this would happen. I wanted to be in the NBA, but I didn’t know I would be here. This is unbelievable. I can’t speak right now.”

Smith and Holmgren have been considered the favorites, and at one point the heavy favorites, to be the top-two picks since mid-May but Banchero’s odds to be the top pick have improved significantly this week, according to

The argument for the Magic selecting Banchero? He may be the closest thing to a go-to offensive option in this draft class.

Banchero can score in myriad ways — post-ups, lobs, cuts, in transition, off offensive rebounds, off pull-ups from midrange and as a ball handler in the pick and roll.

At 6-foot-10 and 250 pounds, he has the size and strength to finish through contact while also having the footwork to get to his spots with finesse.

Banchero is a smart playmaker who makes good passes from the post or on the move (3.2 assists as a forward) and could serve can serve as an offensive hub, which the Magic could use after having the league’s second-worst offensive rating in 2021-22.

He averaged 17.2 points (47.8% from the field — 52.5% on 2s, 33.8% on 3s), 7.8 rebounds and 1.1 steals en route to being named a second-team All-American and the Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year.

Banchero stepped up his play in the NCAA tournament, averaging 18.8 points (50% from the field — 49% on 2s, 52.6% on 3s), 7.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1 steal before the Blue Devils fell to North Carolina in the Final Four.

“He showed flashes of greatness late during the tournament — spreading the defense, running the court, hitting 3s,” Ryan Blake, who’s helped direct scouting services for the NBA since 1996, said in a recent phone call with the Orlando Sentinel. “I think teams will be a little bit concerned about his defense. You have to play both ends of the floor.”

The concerns stem from Banchero not consistently locked in as a defender at Duke and not showing great lateral quickness as a perimeter defender. There are questions about how switchable he’ll be defensively and what his ideal role is on that end.

“We feel he’s incredibly versatile at 6-10, 250,” said Jeff Weltman, the president of basketball operations for the Magic. “We just feel that this is a 19-year-old, who has so much growth potential, we feel he was the best player in college basketball.”


Source: Berkshire mont

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