NBA Draft 2022: Magic takes Paolo Banchero n. 1 with a stunning move

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The Orlando Magic stunned the NBA world Thursday when they picked Paolo Banchero as their No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft. Many speculated that the best pick would have been Jabari Smith Jr. or Chet Holmgren.

Banchero played a season at Duke before turning pro. He was the ACC Rookie of the Year 2022 and an All-ACC first team selection.

He averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists in his only season with the Blue Devils.

It is the 13th consecutive year that a college freshman has been taken overall No. 1 in the NBA.

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Duke striker Paolo Banchero celebrates during the first half of the team’s game against Arkansas in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in San Francisco, March 26, 2022.
(Photo AP / Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

The last Duke player to become No.1 overall was Zion Williamson in 2019. Before Williamson, he was Kyrie Irving in 2011.

The Magic has made first overall pick three more times: in 2004, 1993 and 1992. The Magic selected Dwight Howard in 2004, Chris Webber in 1993 and Shaquille O’Neal in 1992. Orlando handed Webber to the Golden State Warriors for Penny Hardaway and three future first-round draft picks.

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Orlando was 22-60 last season and had a 14% chance of getting the number 1 pick. Orlando had the number 5 pick last year and selected Jalen Suggs.

The selection stunned NBA fans.

Oklahoma City made Gonzaga’s Holmgren the No. 2.

Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren carries the ball against the State of Georgia during the second half of an NCAA college basketball tournament first round game on March 17, 2022, in Portland, Oregon.

Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren carries the ball against the State of Georgia during the second half of an NCAA college basketball tournament first round game on March 17, 2022, in Portland, Oregon.
(AP Photo / Craig Mitchelldyer, File)

The 7-footer Holmgren was West Coast Conference 2022 Defensive Player of the Year, averaging 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game. He is rated on top of some fictional drafts.

He will join a young Thunder team with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey.

Smith was taken at number 3 by the Houston Rockets.

He told Yahoo Sports earlier in the day that he would be “surprised” if he wasn’t selected with the first pick.

“I’ll be surprised if I don’t get number 1,” Smith said. “It’s just my competitive nature mixed with my selflessness and my ability to just throw the ball, defend more positions and worry about winning.

Auburn Forward Jabari Smith (10) shoots a 3-pointer over Vanderbilt guard Jamaine Mann (23) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Feb. 16, 2022, in Auburn, Ala.

Auburn Forward Jabari Smith (10) shoots a 3-pointer over Vanderbilt guard Jamaine Mann (23) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Feb. 16, 2022, in Auburn, Ala.
(Photo AP / Butch Dill, File)

“I’m not interested in statistics. I feel I can help any team immediately. But I feel like I’m the number 1 choice.”

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Smith averaged 16.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game in his only year with the Tigers. He was named SEC Freshman of the Year and won the Wayman Tisdale Award for being the best freshman men’s basketball player in the country.

The Sacramento Kings selected Keegan Murray at number 4 and the Detroit Pistons selected Jaden Ivey from Purdue to complete the top five.

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