The question that led to the NBA draw for weeks was whether the first choice would be Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren or Jabari Smith Jr. would be.
The answer finally came Thursday night—and even Banchero didn’t know it until moments before the Orlando Magic’s roster announcement.
“I had the feeling the information I was told was that it was just kind of up in the air,” Banchero said. “Orlando wasn’t really sure yet, and just to be ready for whatever.
“However, I only found out that I was singled out until about 20 seconds before the commissioner took the podium. I didn’t even have time to really think about it or anything. It just happened. I can’t believe it, but I’m ready. I’m ready.”
After leading the Blue Devils to the Final Four in coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final season, the 6-foot striker was called first by NBA commissioner Adam Silver to start the draft, beating fellow freshman forwards Smith and Holmgren.
The order was discussed throughout the process, with Smith often being considered the number 1 player.
Instead, he didn’t even finish second and fell behind Holmgren to Houston at number 3.
“Definitely added a chip, but God makes no mistakes, so I’m happy to be here,” Smith said. “I’m glad I’m where I want to be. I’m happy to go to Houston and just show them, give them what they picked. Just happy to be here.”
All the selected players looked excited, with Banchero among those crying or getting close hugging friends and family.
He wore a purple suit full of bling and received a loud ovation at Barclays Center, where Duke lost in the ACC Tournament final. He became the fourth Duke player to become the No. 1 since 1966, when the NBA abolished territorial draft rights, followed by Blue Devils teammates Mark Williams (No. 15, Charlotte), AJ Griffin (No. 16, Atlanta) and Wendell Moore Jr. (no. 26, Dallas).
The Magic chose first for the fourth time and they have done well with their previous picks. They acquired Shaquille O’Neal in 1992, swapped the rights to Chris Webber for Penny Hardaway the following year, and teamed up with Dwight Howard in 2004.
Allen eventually made it to the NBA Finals with the Magic.
Holmgren was second to the Oklahoma City Thunder after the 7-footer led the West Coast Conference in blocked shots, rebounding and shooting percentage at Gonzaga. He looked sharp in his black suit, but may need to eventually size up for NBA success as he weighs just 195 pounds.
He’s not worried about that conversation.
“I wake up every day with a plan to make myself a better person and a better basketball player,” Holmgren said. “I’ve put so much effort into doing that that it doesn’t really leave room for me to put effort into things I can’t control and two that aren’t helping me get better.”
The Rockets were happy to finish in Smith, who has the skills to go higher. Auburn’s 6-10 forward is a natural fit in today’s NBA game, able to defend all three frontcourt positions and with a shot that allowed him to hit 42% behind the arc.
Striker Keegan Murray, after a huge jump in his second season in Iowa, jumped all the way to the No. 4 pick of the Sacramento Kings. The Detroit Pistons, a year after winning Cade Cunningham with the No. 1 pick, took athletic Purdue guard Jaden Ivey in fifth.
Before the rosters began, Silver congratulated the Golden State Warriors on their recent NBA championship and reminded fans that their core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green had been built by draft.
All the teams at the top of this concept need help and already have recent high picks on their roster so I hope the Warriors way works for them too.
Bennedict Mathurin, a Canadian who played in Arizona, went to Indiana with the number 6 pick. The Portland Trail Blazers followed with Kentucky’s Shaedon Sharpe, G League’s Dyson Daniels Ignite was eighth by New Orleans, Baylor’s Jeremy Sochan remained in Texas with San Antonio at number 9, and Washington rounded out the top 10 with Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis .
Then the trades began, with the New York Knicks moving picks around to collect more. They shared the rights to No. 11 pick Ousmane Dieng to Oklahoma City for three future first-round picks, and acquired the rights to No. 13 pick Jalen Duren from Charlotte and shared him with Kemba to Detroit for more picks, a person of knowledge. of the details told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because that trade would not become official Thursday.
Walker spent one season with the Knicks but was not with the team before the finish after falling out of coach Tom Thibodeau’s rotation.
The Warriors got Patrick Baldwin Jr. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee made their pick at number 28 and the first round ended with Oklahoma City taking Peyton Watson from UCLA and agreeing to trade his rights to Denver.
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