NBA draft: Magic take on Duke’s Paolo Banchero with No. 1 pick, Chet Holmgren and Jabari Smith Jr. follows

The question in weeks leading up to the NBA draft was whether the first choice would be Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren or Jabari Smith Jr.

The answer finally came Thursday night – and even Banchero did not know it until moments before the announcement of Orlando Magic’s selection.

NBA Draft Basketball
Paolo Banchero, right, poses for a photo with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after being selected as number one overall by the Orlando Magic in the NBA basketball draft on Thursday, June 23, 2022 in New York.

John Minchillo / AP


“I had a feeling that the information I was told was that it was just a little up in the air,” Banchero said. “Orlando was not really safe yet, and just to be ready for anything,

“However, I did not find out that I was actually elected until about 20 seconds before the Commissioner came on stage. I did not even have time to think about it or anything. It happened like. I can not believe it, but I I’m ready. I’m ready. “

After leading the Blue Devils to the Final Four in coach Mike Krzyzewski’s last season, the 6-foot-10 forward was called first by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to begin the draft, beating other first-year forwards Smith and Holmgren.

The order had been discussed throughout the process, with Smith often considering the player who would become No. 1.

Instead, he was not even number two and fell behind Holmgren to Houston as No. 3.

“Definitely added a chip, but God makes no mistake, so I’m glad to be here,” Smith said. “I’m happy to be where I want to be. I’m happy to come to Houston and just show them, give them what they chose. Just happy to be here.”

All the selected players looked excited, with Banchero among those who cried or came close while hugging friends and family.

Wearing a purple suit full of bling, he received a loud ovation inside the Barclays Center, where Duke lost in the ACC tournament final.

The Magic first chose for the fourth time and they have done well with their previous picks. They took Shaquille O’Neal in 1992, swapped the rights to Chris Webber for Penny Hardaway the following year, and joined Dwight Howard in 2004.

Everyone eventually reached the NBA Finals with Magic.

Holmgren finished second to the Oklahoma City Thunder after the 7-footer led the West Coast Conference in blocked shots, rebounds and shot percentage on Gonzaga. He looked sharp in his black suit, but he may need it to eventually become a larger size for success in the NBA, as he weighs only 195 pounds.

He’s not worried about that talk.

“I wake up every day with a plan for how I can make myself a better person, better basketball player,” Holmgren said. “I put so much effort into doing it that it doesn’t really make room to put effort into things like one I can’t control and two that don’t help make me better.”

The Rockets were happy to end up in Smith, which has the abilities to go higher. The 6-10 striker from Auburn is a natural fit in the current NBA game, able to defend all three front positions and with a shot that allowed him to hit 42% behind the arc.

Striker Keegan Murray jumped after a big jump in his second season in Iowa all the way to No. 4 from the Sacramento Kings. The Detroit Pistons, a year after taking Cade Cunningham with the No. 1 pick, took athletic Purdue guard Jaden Ivey to fifth place.

Before the selections began, the Silver congratulated the Golden State Warriors on their recent NBA championship and reminded fans that their core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green was built through the draft.

All the teams at the top of this draft need help and already have the recent high picks on their list, so we hope the Warriors way works for them too.

Bennedict Mathurin, a Canadian who played in Arizona, went to Indiana with number 6. Portland Trail Blazers followed with Kentucky’s Shaedon Sharpe, Dyson Daniels from G League Ignite was taken as number eight by New Orleans, Baylors Jeremy Sochan stayed in Texas with San Antonio as No. 9, and Washington rounded out the top 10 with Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis.

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