Basketball: Draft NBA: Paolo Banchero, premier choix surprise d’Orlando


The former Duke varsity No. 5 was called first by the Magic on Thursday night during the draft.

Mobile, powerful, Paolo Banchero (2.08 m) has often been presented as one of the most accomplished players of this draft.


The Orlando Magic created a surprise on Thursday by retaining in first position in the NBA draft Paolo Banchero, a recently naturalized Italian interior who announced his choice to play with the transalpine selection. For weeks, the midfielder had been announcing inside Jabari Smith in Orlando, but it was ultimately the former No. 5 on the Duke varsity team who was called first.

Mobile, powerful, Paolo Banchero (2.08m) has often been presented as one of the most accomplished players of this draft: impeccable fundamentals, above-average sense of placement and passing for a player of his cut. He was ahead of Chet Holmgren, considered the biggest potential of this 2022 vintage, chosen by Oklahoma City, and Jabari Smith, who scowled when he learned that he would join Houston, in third position.

“I’m really proud to be able to represent Italy.”

Paolo Banchero

The second Italian

Paolo Banchero (19) is part of the prestigious line of players selected in the first row by the Florida franchise, namely Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber and Dwight Howard. Great-grandson of an Italian national, Paolo Banchero, born in the United States, obtained the nationality in 2020. He joins a young formation of the Magic, which decided last year to rebuild and separated from the veterans Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier.

“I want to win, bring Orlando back to the playoffs,” said the former Duke No. 5, who even talked about taking the Magic to the finals, like Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard before him. Technically, this former American football quarterback in high school becomes the second Italian number one in the draft, after Andrea Bargnani, selected in 2006 by Toronto.

“Bargnani was born and raised in Italy” and “I was born and raised in Seattle”, recalled Paolo Banchero, in his purple suit, after his passage on the podium to shake hands with the NBA boss, Adam Silver. “I don’t want to take anything away from him,” he continued, “but I’m really proud to have Italian roots and to be able to represent Italy.”

A young team in overhaul like Orlando, Oklahoma City has set its sights on Chet Holmgren, rod (88 kg for 2.13 m) with striking agility for a player of his size. The U19 world champion last summer with the United States fascinates as much for his possibilities in attack as in defense, able to sow disorder in the four corners of the field.

All the choices are to be found ici.




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