In an unexpected decision, the Orlando Magic selected power forward Paolo Banchero (Duke University) this Thursday with the number one pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. NBA, ahead of the big favorites, Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga) and Jabari Smith (Auburn), recruited next by the Thunder and Rockets.
The Magic, who had not enjoyed the number one since they chose Dwight Howard in 2004, opted for the proven offensive talent of Banchero, born in Seattle (Washington) but who, due to his family origins, also has Italian nationality.
"I don't know what to say. I can't believe what just happened, I never would have thought this would happen," said an emotional Banchero after receiving his new team's cap from NBA commissioner Adam Silver on stage at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn ( New York).
«I wanted to be in the NBA, but I did not imagine this. It's incredible, I can't speak right now, "acknowledged this 2,08m tall power forward wearing a colorful purple suit.
Until a few minutes before the ceremony, the vast majority of experts agreed that Orlando would opt for Jabari Smith, an explosive 2,11m power forward with a great outside shot, or Chet Holmgren, an intimidating 2,13m center and with a good hand, both with better reputations as defenders than Paolo Banchero.
The new face of the franchise
The power forward, who averaged 17,2 points, 7,8 rebounds and 3,2 assists in his only season at Duke, should be the spearhead of the renewed Magic, who finished penultimate in the Eastern Conference last season with 21 wins and 51 losses.
The Magic have only qualified for the playoffs twice in the last decade and in 2021 they resigned themselves to selling their figures (Vucevic, Fournier, Gordon) and embarking on a long and uncertain process of reconstruction.
In the May lottery, luck smiled on Orlando allowing him to pick first for the fourth time in its history, after the selections of Shaquille O'Neal (1992), Chris Webber (1993) and Dwight Howard (2004).
Banchero is destined to be the líder from a group of promises made up by guards Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs, German forward Franz Wagner and center Wendell Carter Jr., none of whom are older than 23 years.