NEW YORK – After months of speculation, Duke’s Paolo Banchero chose the Orlando Magic’s surprise selection for the 2022 NBA Draft Overall on Thursday night at the Barclays Center.
Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren took second place in the Oklahoma City Thunder and Auburn striker Jabari Smith Jr. finished 3rd overall in the Houston Rockets.
In the weeks leading up to the draft, Smith’s best selection was widely expected. But Magic turned things around, taking Banchero, who took the stage and shook hands with NBA commissioner Adam Silver, wearing a bright purple suit with even brighter shoes.
“Based on the information I was told, I felt like it was just in the air,” Banchero told ESPN about going first. “Orlando wasn’t quite sure yet and just to be ready for anything.
“But it wasn’t until about 20 seconds before the commissioner took the stage that I learned that I was actually elected. I didn’t even have time to think about it or anything. It just happened. I can’t believe it, but I’m ready. I’m ready.”
Duke’s 6-foot striker scored an average of 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game in the Final Four before losing to North America’s eternal rivals. Banchero, who may be the NBA’s most prepared prospect in this draft, is now seen as an anchor for the upcoming reconstruction in Orlando, which includes guards Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony, strikers Franz Wagner and Jonathan Isaac, and center Wendell Carter Jr.
When Banchero came first in the surprise, Holmgren was always expected to go to Oklahoma City with a second choice. Seven feet from Gonzaga, Holmgren showed a wide range of skills in his single college season, averaging 14.1 points on 60% of hits and 39% of hits, while taking 9.9 rebounds and blocking 3.7 shots in 26.9 minutes out of 32. games.
Oklahoma City, which took part in the second lottery selection on the night (12th overall) and topped several of the following drafts, now has Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and an Australian Josh as its anchor. Giddey, last year’s sixth qualifier and first newcomer to the team.
Smith, a 10-foot striker, scored an average of 16.9 points and took 7.4 rebounds, shooting 42 percent from the arc.
After the first round of last year’s draw in the drafts of Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, Josh Christopher and Usman Garuba, the Rockets, who also made it to the 17th choice, continued their rebuilding after leaving the franchise icon James. Harden at the beginning of the 2021-2022 season, choosing Smith.
Iowa striker Keegan Murray, who went to the Sacramento Kings in fourth place, and Purdue guard Jaden Ivey, who finished fifth in the Detroit Pistons overall, finished in the top five.
Murray finished second in the breakthrough season in Iowa, scoring an average of 23.5 points and 8.7 rebounds, throwing 55.4 percent and 39.8 percent of the three-point throw. He is now joining the Kings team, which is trying to end a 16-year play-off drought and transform itself under new coach Mike Brown to guard De’Aaron Fox and great man Domantas Sabonis.
Ivey, who had publicly said that going to Sacramento wouldn’t be the worst thing that could happen to him, connects Cade Cunningham with last year’s best selection in the backyard of Pistons. Like Murray, Ivey’s season was groundbreaking, with an average of 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists for Purdue, while showing breathtaking athleticism and straightforward speed.
Arizona Bennedict Mathurin finished sixth on the Indiana Pacers team, Portland Trail Blazers won 7th place in Kentucky Shaedon Sharpe and Dyson Daniels of G League Ignite took 8th place in the New Orleans Pelicans.
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