by: BRIAN MAHONEY, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — The Orlando Magic selected Duke freshman Paolo Banchero Thursday night with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.
After leading the Blue Devils to the Final Four in coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final season, the 6-foot-10 forward was called up first by NBA commissioner Adam Silver to start the draft, beating the others freshman forwards Jabari Smith Jr. and Chet Holmgren. .
Banchero, dressed in a purple suit full of bling, received a loud ovation inside the Barclays Center, where Duke lost in the ACC Tournament Finals.
The Magic picked first for the fourth time and they did well with their previous picks. They took on Shaquille O’Neal in 1992, traded Chris Webber for Penny Hardaway the following year and went with Dwight Howard in 2004.
All of them eventually reached the NBA Finals with the Magic.
Holmgren went second to the Oklahoma City Thunder after the 7-footer led the West Coast Conference in blocked shots, rebounds and shooting percentage at Gonzaga. He looked sharp in his black suit, but he might need to eventually be taller to succeed in the NBA, as he weighs just 195 pounds.
The Houston Rockets took Smith at No. 3, happy to end up with a player many believed would eventually move up to No. 3. The 6-10 Auburn forward is a natural fit in the current NBA game, capable of defending all three frontcourt positions and with a shot that has allowed him to hit 42% from behind the arc.
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