NEW YORK — After months of speculation, Duke’s Paolo Banchero was a surprise Orlando Magic pick with the top overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft Thursday night at the Barclays Center.
The Oklahoma City Thunder took Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren with the second pick, and sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that they sent several first-round picks to the New York Knicks for the rights to No. 11 Ousmane Dieng of France.
Auburn forward Jabari Smith Jr. went to the Houston Rockets in 3rd overall.
In the weeks leading up to the draft, it had been widely expected that Smith would land the top pick. But the magic turned things on their head by taking Banchero, who was wearing a bright purple sequined suit and even brighter shoes, onto the stage and shaking hands with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
“I felt like it was just up in the air based on the information that was shared with me,” Banchero told ESPN of being the first to go. “Orlando wasn’t really sure yet and just wanted to be prepared for anything.
“However, I didn’t find out I was selected until about 20 seconds before the commissioner took the stage. 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.”
Rounding out the top five of the draft were Iowa forward Keegan Murray, who went to the Sacramento Kings with the fourth pick, and Purdue guard Jaden Ivey, who was drafted fifth overall by the Detroit Pistons.
The 6-foot-10 Duke forward averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game in 39 games for the Blue Devils, who reached the Final Four before beating their eternal rivals in North Carolina lost. Banchero, who may be the NBA-ready prospect this draft, is now seen as the anchor of Orlando’s burgeoning rebuild, which includes guards Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony, forwards Franz Wagner and Jonathan Isaac, and center Wendell Carter Jr.
While Banchero was a surprise at No. 1, Holmgren was always expected to go to Oklahoma City with the second pick. Holmgren, a Gonzaga 7-footer, displayed a wide range of skills in his lone season in college, averaging 14.1 points on 60 percent shooting overall and 39 percent from 3-point range while scoring 9, 9 rebounds and 3.7 shots in 26.9 minutes over 32 games blocked.
Oklahoma City now has an internal anchor with its promising young backcourt of rising star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Aussie Josh Giddey, the sixth overall pick in last year’s draft and a first-team all-rookie selection.
“I think it’s a great situation, great dynamic to play with the likes of Josh and Shai and everyone else in the squad,” said Holmgren. “There are a lot of great players with unique skills there. I feel like somehow I can team up with them and help improve theirs and let their skills improve mine.”
Smith, a well-shooting 6-foot-10 forward, averaged 16.9 points and 7.4 rebounds while shooting 42 percent from behind the 3-point arc.
After drafting Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, Josh Christopher and Usman Garuba in the first round of last year’s draft, the Rockets – also with the 17 – hardened you to start the 2021-22 season by picking Smith.
When asked if he has any extra motivation after being passed over for the top pick, Smith said, “Definitely added a chip but God doesn’t make mistakes so I’m happy to be here. I’m happy to be where I wanted to be. I’m happy to come to Houston and just show them, give them what they chose. I’m just happy to be here.
Murray had a breakthrough sophomore season in Iowa, averaging 23.5 points and 8.7 rebounds while shooting 55.4 percent from the field and 39.8 percent from 3-point range. He will now join a Kings team trying to end a 16-year playoff drought and retool under new coach Mike Brown around guard De’Aaron Fox and big man Domantas Sabonis.
Ivey, who has publicly said going to Sacramento wouldn’t be the “worst” thing that would happen to him, will pair him with last year’s top overall pick Cade Cunningham in the Pistons’ backcourt. Like Murray, Ivey had an outstanding sophomore season, averaging 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists at Purdue while displaying stunning athleticism and speed down the straights.
The remainder of the top 10 consisted of Arizona guard Bennedict Mathurin, who finished sixth to the Indiana Pacers; Kentucky guard Shaedon Sharpe, drafted seventh by the Portland Trail Blazers; Australian guard Dyson Daniels, who went to the New Orleans Pelicans with an eighth pick; Baylor forward Jeremy Sochan left for the San Antonio Spurs in ninth place; and Wisconsin guard Johnny Davis goes to the Washington Wizards as 10th.
Mathurin averaged 17.7 points and 5.6 rebounds in Arizona and should be placed alongside point guard Tyrese Haliburton in Indiana backcourt as the Pacers appear to be undergoing a full rebuild for the first time in a generation.
Sharpe, meanwhile, was the former top high school pick who enlisted early in Kentucky and then didn’t play for the Wildcats that spring before coming to the draft.
Daniels is the latest player to join the NBA via the G League Ignite, where he averaged 11.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists in 32 minutes per game last season.
Sochan averaged 9.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.3 steals for Baylor as a freshman and will bring a versatile two-way game to San Antonio. Davis, a sophomore in the Big Ten in one theme at the top of this draft, broke out in his sophomore season at Madison, averaging 19.7 points and 8.2 rebounds in 34.2 minutes per game.