In some years, the No. 1 pick is clear, but that was not the case this year. Auburn forward Jabari Smith Jr. and Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren were both candidates for the top spot, as well. But in the minutes leading up to the draft, Banchero became the leading candidate. Shortly after the draft began, the Magic made things official, selecting the Duke freshman first overall.
The Orlando Magic select Duke's Paolo Banchero with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft! 🏀 pic.twitter.com/STn4znHccI
— The Comeback (@thecomeback) June 24, 2022
Magic got a star ✨
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) June 24, 2022
The hoops world had a lot to say about the 6-foot-10, 250-pound forward going first overall. Feelings were mixed.
Paolo Banchero is made for the bigtime.
The No. 1 overall pick recorded 15 points and 10 rebounds in his NCAA tournament debut – the 3rd Duke player to do so during the Coach K era (R.J. Barrett, Jayson Tatum). pic.twitter.com/MeeKCk3Fyt
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 24, 2022
Paolo Banchero’s NBA comps being Michael Beasley and Ben Simmons is the funniest draft broadcast player comp of all time. Horrifying for Magic fans.
— Sean Fennessey (@SeanFennessey) June 24, 2022
Paolo Banchero is the son of WNBA star Rhonda Smith.
He’s won state titles in basketball and football.
He was a consensus 5-star, ACC ROTY at Duke, and the first active college player featured on NBA 2K.
At 19, he believes he’s the best player in the draft.
The Magic agree. pic.twitter.com/aJfr4rSwbr
— Front Office Sports (@FOS) June 24, 2022
I feel a little hopeful but also have a sense of doom.
— Kevin Clark (@bykevinclark) June 24, 2022
The best player in his high school class. The best freshman in college. The best player in his draft class.
The number one pick in the draft.
Greatness at every stage, and it’s only up from here. Another chapter in the special career of Paolo Banchero.pic.twitter.com/s2aTFtST53
— The Brotherhood (@BrotherhoodCBB) June 24, 2022
Given that Banchero was far from a consensus No. 1 pick, he’ll be under a tight microscope early in his career. This will be especially true if Holmgren, Smith, or both excel.
That said, there’s a lot to like about Banchero.
Banchero earned ACC Rookie of the Year honors, was a part of the ACC All-Rookie Team, and was a second-team All-American for the 2021-22 season. In his one season at Duke, Banchero averaged 17.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.
He does have some areas to improve upon, namely shooting and scoring efficiency. Scoring efficiency Banchero made 47.8% of his field goals, 72.9% of his free throws, and 33.8% of his three-pointers in his one year at Duke.