Duke’s Banchero taken No. 1 overall by Magic
8: 11 PM ET
The Oklahoma City Thunder began a busy first round by taking Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren with the second pick, then acquired 11th pick Ousmane Dieng of France in a trade with the New York Knicks and took Santa Clara’s Jalen Williams at No. 12.
Auburn forward Jabari Smith Jr. went No. 3 overall to the Houston Rockets.
In the weeks leading up to the draft, Smith had been widely expected to land the top selection. But the Magic turned things upside down by taking Banchero, who sported a bright purple suit with sequins, along with even brighter shoes, as he took to the stage and shook hands with NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
“I had a feeling, from the information I was being told, that it was just kind of up in the air,” Banchero told ESPN of going first. “Orlando wasn’t really sure yet, and just to be ready for whatever.
“I didn’t find out, though, that I was actually getting picked until about 20 seconds before the commissioner got on the stage. I didn’t even have time to really think about it or anything. It just kind of happened. I can’t believe it, but I’m ready. I’m ready.”
Banchero, a 6-foot-10 forward from Duke, averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game across 39 games for the Blue Devils, who reached the Final Four before losing to their forever rivals in North Carolina. Banchero, who might be the most NBA-ready prospect in this draft, will now be looked to as the anchor of Orlando’s nascent 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. A 7-footer from Gonzaga, Holmgren flashed a wide array 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 grabbing 9.9 rebounds and blocking 3.7 shots in 26.9 minutes across 32 games.
Oklahoma City now has an interior anchor to go with its promising young backcourt of rising star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Australian 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, playing with guys like Josh and Shai, as well as everybody down the roster,” Holmgren said. “It’s a lot of great players there with unique skill sets. I feel like I can kind of pair up with them and help enhance theirs as well as have their skill-sets enhance mine.”
The Thunder also acquired Dieng, the 11th pick, by sending multiple first-round picks to the Knicks, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Dieng, who turned 19 last month, averaged 8.8 points for the New Zealand Breakers in Australia’s National Basketball League this past season. Oklahoma City then took Williams with the 12th pick, making him the first player drafted from Santa Clara since Hall of Famer Steve Nash in 1996.
Smith, a sweet-shooting 6-foot-10 forward from Auburn, 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 continued their rebuild in the wake of moving on from franchise icon James Harden at the start of the 2021-22 season by selecting Smith. Houston also took LSU forward Tari Eason with the 17th pick.
Asked if he has any added motivation after being passed over for the top pick, Smith said, “Definitely added a chip, but God makes no mistakes, so I’m happy to be here. I’m happy to be where I’m wanted. I’m happy to get to Houston and just show them, give them what they picked. Just happy to be here.”
Murray had a breakout sophomore season at 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 that is trying to end a 16-year playoff drought and retool itself around guard De’Aaron Fox and big man Domantas Sabonis under new coach Mike Brown.
Ivey, who had publicly said going to Sacramento wouldn’t be the “worst” thing to happen to him, will team him with last year’s top overall pick, Cade Cunningham, in the Pistons backcourt. Like Murray, Ivey had a breakout sophomore season, averaging 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists at Purdue while showing off breathtaking athleticism and straight-line speed.
The rest of the top 10 featured Arizona guard Bennedict Mathurin, who went sixth to the Indiana Pacers; Kentucky guard Shaedon Sharpe, who was drafted seventh by the Portland Trail Blazers; Australian guard Dyson Daniels, who went to the New Orleans Pelicans with the eighth selection; Baylor forward Jeremy Sochan went to the San Antonio Spurs at the ninth spot; and Wisconsin guard Johnny Davis going 10th to the Washington Wizards.
Mathurin averaged 17.7 points and 5.6 rebounds at Arizona and should slot in next to point guard Tyrese Haliburton in Indiana’s backcourt, as the Pacers appear set to enter a full rebuild for the first time in a generation.
Sharpe, meanwhile, was the former top overall recruit coming out of high school who enrolled early at Kentucky and then didn’t play for the Wildcats this spring ahead of entering the draft.
Daniels is the latest player to come to 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 this past 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, in a theme at the top of this draft among Big Ten sophomores, broke out in his second season in Madison, averaging 19.7 points and 8.2 rebounds in 34.2 minutes per game.
One other trade was completed toward the end of the lottery selections. Memphis center Jalen Duren went No. 13 to the Charlotte Hornets before landing with the Detroit Pistons in a three-team deal also involving the Knicks, sources told Wojnarowski. Duren averaged 12 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game as a freshman this past season.
Kansas forward Ochai Agbaji was the final lottery pick, going 14th to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Agbaji, 22, was a consensus first team All-American and the Big 12 Player of the Year as a senior for Kansas, leading the Jayhawks to the national championship this past spring, averaging 18.8 points and shooting 40.9 percent from 3-point range.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.