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The Orlando Magic selected Paolo Banchero, a forward from Duke University, with the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft.

Banchero is a 6-foot-10, 250-pound forward whose mother, Rhonda Smith-Banchero, played in the WNBA. He was a guard earlier in his basketball career and also played football and basketball at O’Dea High School in Seattle. .

In his lone season at Duke, Banchero averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game and was named Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year.

Three prospects are believed to have split atop this year’s draft: Banchero, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr.

The Magic won this year’s draft lottery after finishing the season at 22-60, the worst record in the Eastern Conference and the second-worst record in the league. Only the Houston Rockets, who had the third pick in this year’s draft after a 20-62 season, have won fewer games than the Magic.

This year marked the fourth time in franchise history that it was made the first overall pick. The Magic drafted Shaquille O’Neal with the first pick in 1992; Chris Webber, whom they immediately traded for Penny Hardaway, in 1993; and Dwight Howard in 2004.

The pairing of Hardaway and O’Neal resulted in an NBA Finals appearance, but no championship for the Magic. Howard also led the Magic to a Finals appearance in 2009.

Later in their careers, O’Neal and Howard won championships playing for the Los Angeles Lakers – O’Neal in 2000, 2001 and 2002, and Howard in 2020.

Prior to Banchero, Duke’s last player selected No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft was Zion Williamson in 2019. Banchero follows two guards — Anthony Edwards (2020) and Cade Cunningham (2021) — to earn the distinction of being the first choice.


nytimes sport

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