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Magic select Duke’s Paolo Banchero with 1st pick in NBA draft

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Orlando Magic president Jeff Weltman this week said the team prides itself on being buttoned up and keeping its plans in-house, away from the general public.

On Thursday, the Magic can take a victory lap for their latest efforts.

Weltman and the Magic side-stepped nearly every reported expectation to select Duke forward Paolo Banchero with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft. Banchero beat out Chet Holmgren and Jabari Smith Jr. to become the fourth No. 1 pick in team history.

Throughout the pre-draft process, Smith was widely reported to be the top choice with Holmgren going to the Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 2. Banchero was expected to fall to the Houston Rockets with the third pick, behind Smith and Holmgren.

However, the odds began to change in favor of Banchero going No. 1.

Just ahead of the start of the draft, speculation began to swirl that Banchero could become the choice for Orlando. The news was rather surprising considering Banchero did not have a workout or meeting with the team ahead of Thursday.

The Magic front office has selected players previously without meeting them ahead of the draft, though. Jalen Suggs, the fifth pick last year, did not meet with the Magic prior to the draft, and neither did Jonathan Isaac in 2017 when he was the sixth pick.

Banchero joins Shaquille O’Neal (1992), Chris Webber (1993) and Dwight Howard (2004) as No. 1 picks in team history. He is projected to become a key addition to a nucleus that features Cole Anthony, Markelle Fultz, Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner among others.

The Magic are expected to be back on the clock with the 32nd pick.

This post originally appeared on Rookie Wire! Follow us on Facebook!

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