NBA Draft - Paolo Banchero on going No. 1: ‘I was like ‘whoa’’

The Duke power forward spoke with Yahoo Sports NBA draft analyst Krysten Peek at the Barclays Center after being selected 1st overall in the 2022 NBA Draft.

Video Transcript

KRYSTEN PEAK: I'm Krysten Peek, NBA draft analyst for Yahoo Sports, here with the number-one pick in the draft, Paolo Banchero, Pablo, you are looking sharp.


KRYSTEN PEAK: You're looking like a number-one player. First of all, how did this outfit come together?

PAOLO BANCHERO: Yeah, you know, I chose the purple kind of to honor my parents. You know, they both went to the University of Washington. Of course I didn't. And so when I first committed to Duke, they kind of took some heat for it. So this is just to pay my respects a little bit and, you know, say I'm sorry in a way.

KRYSTEN PEAK: What did Adam Silver say to you when you walked on that stage and got the hat and shook his hand?

PAOLO BANCHERO: You know, just congratulations. You know, he acknowledged the Duke connection, said he was-- couldn't wait to see me in the league and get started, and just look forward to keeping in touch.

KRYSTEN PEAK: The Vegas line this week was crazy. You just kept going up and up and up. Did you have any idea at all that you would be going number one, to Orlando?

PAOLO BANCHERO: I had-- I knew it was a possibility. Definitely. I didn't know it was for sure until probably 30 seconds before the commissioner came up to announce the pick. So it was-- you know, my heart was beating pretty fast. But, yeah, I knew it was a possibility, but it definitely wasn't for sure.



KRYSTEN PEAK: What was your reaction 30 seconds before he said your name?

PAOLO BANCHERO: Yeah. No, my agent, Mike Miller, just kind of looked at me and was like, man, congratulations. And I just was like-- kind of was like, whoa. And then by the time I even got to realize what he said, my name was about to be called, so, you know, it just all hit me at once. And, you know, I was really overwhelmed with emotions.

KRYSTEN PEAK: I mean, during this entire pre-draft process, a lot of people, including me, just had you right there at three. Like, they kind of didn't give you any of that respect that you could go number one. Did you feel slighted at that at all?

PAOLO BANCHERO: I wouldn't say I felt slighted and everything just because, you know, the draft doesn't always come down maybe to who's the best overall player. You know, sometimes teams look for different stuff or whatever it may be, you know. And those guys ahead of me are great players, so I wasn't offended at all.

I was going to be happy whether it was one, two, three, four. You know, I was going to be excited. I feel like I'm a number-one overall caliber player. So I've always had that mindset, and I'm going to continue with that mindset. But definitely didn't feel, like, any disrespect or wasn't upset or anything.

KRYSTEN PEAK: Yeah. Heading into Orlando, they've got a young team. Cole Anthony, who I'm sure you know, Jalen Suggs, Wendell Carter, Jr., who you're going to be playing in the front court with. What excites you most about coming in and hopefully being that missing piece to get them over the hump and, you know, win some games?

PAOLO BANCHERO: Yeah, it's really exciting. You know, like you said, Wendell. Franz Wagner as well.

KRYSTEN PEAK: Yeah, Franz. Yup.

PAOLO BANCHERO: Those are two forwards. You can add me in there, and that's three. You know, 6' 9"-plus forwards who can all dribble, pass, shoot, and defend. And so I think that's going to give teams a lot of problems. Like you said, Cole, Jalen, you know, all the guys in the back court. And then the rest of the guys. You know, Orlando actually has a deep team.


PAOLO BANCHERO: So, you know, I really think we can build something and really build a winning culture.

KRYSTEN PEAK: I mean, being the number-one player, you now kind of have a target on your back. Everyone's going to expect you to produce immediately. Do you thrive in that pressure, or are you just going to take the NBA game as it comes?

PAOLO BANCHERO: I think yes to both. You know, the same thing at Duke. You know, I came in as a top-two recruit, had a lot of expectations, a lot of people expecting things out of me. And, you know, I never let that affect me. I mean, that's-- I know that coming in. I mean, I feel like I'm a great player, and so people are going to expect a lot out of me. It's kind of been like that always.

So it's not that I'm not used to, but, like you said, I'm also going to just let the game come to me. You know, that's what I've been doing my whole life, so, you know, I don't plan to change anything.

KRYSTEN PEAK: All right. Well, Paolo, thank you so much for your time. Again, congrats on being the number-one player in the 2022 NBA draft and good luck next season.