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The Orlando Magic stunned the NBA world on Thursday when they picked Paolo Banchero with the No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft, as many assumed it would be either Jabari Smith Jr. or Chet Holmgren as their first pick in the days preceding the event. .
Banchero played one season at Duke before turning pro. He was the 2022 ACC Rookie of the Year and a first-team All-ACC selection.
He averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists in his only season with the Blue Devils.
This is the 13th straight year a freshman has been ranked No. 1 overall in the NBA.
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The last Duke player to be No. 1 overall was Zion Williamson in 2019 and before that was Kyrie Irving in 2011.
The Magic had the No. 1 overall pick three other times: in 2004, 1993 and 1992. The Magic selected Dwight Howard in 2004, Chris Webber in 1993, and Shaquille O’Neal in 1992. Orlando would trade Webber to the Golden State Warriors for Penny Hardaway and three future first-round picks.
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Orlando was 22-60 in the regular season and had a 14% chance of getting the first pick. Orlando had the No. 5 pick last year and selected Jalen Suggs.
The selection stunned NBA fans from the start.
Oklahoma City made Holmgren No. 1 out of Gonzaga.
The 7-footer Holmgren was the 2022 West Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year averaging 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game. It is ranked at the top of some fictional drafts.
He will join a young Thunder team with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey.
Smith was taken to No. 3 by the Houston Rockets.
He told Yahoo Sports earlier today that he would be “surprised” if he wasn’t selected with the top pick.
“I’d be surprised if I didn’t take #1,” Smith told Yahoo Sports on Thursday. “It’s just my competitive nature mixed with my selflessness and my ability to just shoot the ball, defend multiple positions and care about winning.
“I don’t care about stats. I feel like I can help any team straight away. But I feel like I’m the first 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 nation’s top freshman male basketball player.
The Sacramento Kings selected Keegan Murray at No. 4 and the Detroit Pistons selected Purdue’s Jaden Ivey to finish the top five.