The Orlando Magic chose Paolo Banchero, Duke University forward, who was number one in the NBA Draft.
The Banchero is a 6-foot 10, 250-pound power forward whose mother, Ronda Smith-Banchero, played in the WNBA. She was a defender before in her basketball career He played both football and basketball at Seattle O’Dea High School.
A few minutes before his name was called, the banchero was sitting at a table on the floor of the Barclays Center with no emotion on his face. Magic was on and word spread that the banchero might have been their choice. Cameras ran around him, but he did not react outwardly. It was only when NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced his name that his appearance changed.
He bowed his head, looked up and smiled.
In a single season at Duke, Banchero averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game and was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year.
Three prospects were considered to stand out in this year’s draft: Banchero, Gonzaga Chet Holmgren, and Auburn Jabbar Smith Jr..
Magic has won this year’s draft lottery after finishing the season with a score of 22-60, which was the worst record in the Eastern Conference and the second worst record in the league. Only the Houston Rockets, who finished third in this year’s draft after a 20-62 season, have won fewer games than Magic.
This year marks the fourth time in the franchise’s history that it has made its first overall choice. Magic made the first pick on the Sheckel O’Neill Draft in 1992; Chris Weber, who they immediately exchanged for Penny Hardaway, in 1993; And Dwight Howard in 2004.
The pair of Hardaway and O’Neill made one appearance in the NBA Finals, but there was no championship for the Witches. Howard also brought the magician to one final, in 2009.
Later in their careers, O’Neill and Howard won championships while playing for the Los Angeles Lakers – O’Neill in 2000, 2001 and 2002, and Howard in 2020.
Prior to Banchero, the last Duke player to be selected No. 1 in the NBA Draft in 2019 was Zion Williamson. Banchero will be followed by two defenders – Anthony Edwards (2020) and Cade Cunningham (2021) – for the best pick.