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Orlando Magic makes Paolo Banchero the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft – The Denver Post

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 forward is the fourth No. 1 pick in franchise history, joining Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber and Dwight Howard.

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

“I don’t even know what to say,” Banchero said.

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

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

Banchero can score in multiple ways – post-ups, lobs, cuts, in transition, off offensive rebounds, off mid-range pull-ups 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 on contact while also having the footwork to reach his points with finesse.

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

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

Banchero stepped up his game in the NCAA Tournament, averaging 18.8 points (50% from the field – 49% in 2s, 52.6% in 3s), 7.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1, 2 blocks and 1 interception before the Blue Devils fell to North Carolina. in the Final Four.

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

Concerns stem from Banchero not being 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 will be defensively and what his ideal role is for that purpose.

More soon ….



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