In a surprise move, the Orlando Magic made Duke’s Paolo Banchero the No. 1 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft.
The 6-foot-10, 250-pound power forward is the fourth No. 1 pick in franchise history, alongside Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber and Dwight Howard.
Banchero was chosen over early favorites to be taken as No 1: Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga) and Jabari Smith (Auburn).
“I don’t even know what to say,” Banchero said.
Smith and Holmgren were considered the favourites, and at one point the heavy favorites, as the top two picks since mid-May, but Banchero’s chances of being the top pick have improved significantly this week, according to betonline.com.
The argument for the Magic Banchero chooses? He is perhaps the closest thing to an offensive option in this concept class.
Banchero can score in countless ways: post-ups, lobs, cuts, in transition, offensive rebounds, mid-range pull-ups and as a ball handler in the pick and roll.
Weighing 1.80m and 250lbs, it has the size and strength to finish through contact, while also having the footwork to land with finesse.
Banchero is a shrewd playmaker who makes good passes from the post or on the go (3.2 assists as a striker) and can serve as an offensive hub, who could use the Magic after the league’s second-worst offensive rating in 2021- 22.
He averaged 17.2 points (47.8% of the field – 52.5% on 2s, 33.8% on 3s), 7.8 rebounds and 1.1 steals en route to a second-team All-American and the Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year.
Banchero stepped up his game in the NCAA tournament, averaging 18.8 points (50% of 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 in the tournament — spreading the defense, running the field, hitting 3s,” Ryan Blake, who has led scouting services for the NBA since 1996, said in a recent phone call with the Orlando. Sentinel. “I think teams will be a little concerned about his defense. You have to play both sides of the floor.”
The concerns stem from Banchero not being consistently locked up as a defender at Duke and not showing great lateral speed as a perimeter defender. There are questions about how switchable he will be defensively and what his ideal role is.
More to come ….