NEW YORK (AP) – The question for weeks before the NBA draft was whether the first pick would be Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren or Jabari Smith Jr.
The answer finally came on Thursday night — and even Banchero didn’t know it until moments before the Orlando Magic selection was announced.
“I had the feeling that the information he was telling me is that it was kind of up in the air,” Banchero said. “Orlando wasn’t sure yet, and he was just ready for whatever it was.
“I didn’t find out, though, that I was actually being picked about 20 seconds before the commissioner came on 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.”
After leading the Blue Devils to the Final Four last season under coach Mike Krzyzewski, the 6-foot-1 forward was first called up by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to start the draft, defeating fellow first-years Smith and Holmgren.
The order was debated throughout the process, with Smith often considered to be the number one player.
Instead, he didn’t even take second, falling behind Holmgren to Houston at number 3.
“I definitely added a chip, but God doesn’t make mistakes, so I’m glad I’m here,” Smith said. “I am happy to be where I am wanted. I’m happy to come to Houston and just show them, give them what they chose. Just happy to be here.”
All of the chosen players looked emotional, with Banchero among those who cried or came closer as they hugged friends and family.
Wearing a purple suit full of bling, he received a huge standing ovation inside the Barclays Center, where Duke lost in the finals of the ACC Tournament. He was the fourth Duke player to be No. 1 since 1966, when the NBA ended draft territorial rights, and was followed by Blue Devils teammates Mark Williams (No. 15, Charlotte), AJ Griffin (No. , Atlanta) and Wendell Moore Jr. (No. 26, Dallas).
The Magic were picking first for the fourth time and did well with their previous picks. They took in Shaquille O’Neal in 1992, swapped Chris Webber’s rights for Penny Hardaway the following year, and went with Dwight Howard in 2004.
They all ended up making it to the NBA Finals with the Magic.
Holmgren took second place to the Oklahoma City Thunder after the 7-footer led the West Coast Conference in blocks, rebounds and shooting percentage on Gonzaga. He looked stylish in his black suit, but might need a size bigger for NBA success as he’s listed at just 195 pounds.
He’s not worried about this conversation.
“I wake up every day with a plan on how to become a better person, a better basketball player,” Holmgren said. “I put so much effort into executing this, it doesn’t really leave me room to put effort into things that, one, I can’t control and two, it doesn’t help me improve.”
The Rockets were happy to end up with Smith, who has the skills to go higher. Auburn’s 6-10 forward is a natural fit in the current NBA game, capable of defending all three attacking positions and with a shot put that allowed him to hit 42% behind the arc.
Forward Keegan Murray, after a big leap in his second season in Iowa, has jumped to the Sacramento Kings’ fourth pick. The Detroit Pistons, a year after picking up Cade Cunningham with the No. 1 pick, picked up Purdue’s athletic guard Jaden Ivey in fifth.
Before selections began, Silver congratulated the Golden State Warriors on their recent NBA title and reminded fans that their core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green was built through the draft.
All the teams at the top of this draft need help and already have high recent picks on their rosters, so hopefully the Warriors way works for them too.
Bennedict Mathurin, a Canadian who played in Arizona, went to Indiana with the 6th pick. The Portland Trail Blazers followed with Shaedon Sharpe of Kentucky, Dyson Daniels of G League Ignite was eighth for New Orleans, Jeremy Sochan of Baylor was in Texas with San Antonio in 9th place, and Washington completed the top 10 with Johnny Davis of Wisconsin.
So negotiations began, with the New York Knicks moving picks to accumulate more of them. They traded the rights to 11th pick Ousmane Dieng to Oklahoma City for three future first-round picks, and acquired the rights to 13th pick Jalen Duren from Charlotte and traded him along with Kemba to Detroit for more picks, a person with knowledge of the details said. to the Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because that deal would not become official on Thursday.
Walker spent one season with the Knicks but was not with the team for the finale after dropping out of head coach Tom Thibodeau’s rotation.
The Warriors chose Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Patrick Baldwin Jr. as number 28 and the first round ended with Oklahoma City taking UCLA’s Peyton Watson and agreeing to trade his rights with Denver.