NBA Draft 2022: Magic taking Paolo Banchero at No. 1 fooled the league and gives us chaos for years to come

Do you remember how that was supposed to go?

1. Jabari Smith Jr.
2. Chet Holmgren
3.Paolo Banchero
4.Jaden Ivey

That’s what most mockers told you early Thursday night, just minutes before the start of the 2022 NBA draft. Despite the fact that — as we’ve outlined before exactly here – the debate about who should go no 1 was more captivating than it had been in years. This concept turned out to be true. Somehow.

Orlando what have you done?

Claiming one of the boldest 11 hour, 59 minute gambits in NBA draft history, that’s what.

Since the night of the lottery on May 17, all of the momentum seemed to be behind the idea that the Magic would go with convention and put Smith at number one. Oklahoma City was accordingly rumored to be infatuated with Holmgren from the start. Of course, that would leave Houston with the obvious choice of taking whoever’s left of the big three — and picking Banchero third.

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The Kings going through one of the worst playoff droughts of any pro sports franchise would surely have to take the best available player at #4, right? Ivey. It would have to be him.

Then the betting markets raged earlier in the week. Banchero moved from +1400 to +175 (still behind Smith) to become No. Subsequent reports attempted to expunge this rumor.

Then, just before 8 p.m. ET Thursday night, everything was ripped to pieces. Chaos. The prognosis was not reality. That’s the reality.

Banchero first to magic.

Holmgren second to Thunder.

Schmidt – somehow! – goes to the Rockets third.

Keegan Murray- hello! — Fourth for the kings.

And then Ivey, who could prove to be the pick of the draft in 10 years, fell into the laps of the Detroit Pistons.

In what may be one of the most talented designs in recent history, Orlando and Sacramento – two franchises that have seemed bad for generations – have subverted expectations and wreaked havoc on us. Due to the high profile of each of the top three picks and the unusual three-way race feel this year’s draft had, this was always a draft where we should look back and compare which teams made the right decision and which didn’t.

But now? The stakes seem up.

Think of it this way: Smith was the #1 favorite for months, including most of the day of the draft. He ended up falling to #3. Has this ever happened in the history of the draft? A player predicted by pundits and betting markets to be first choice not only doesn’t start first, but gets passed on second?

Thursday night felt historic in an immediate but also intangible way, meaning the ramifications of those decisions will be felt between these five teams for the remainder of the 2020s.

Consider the franchises that turned this design on its head. Orlando won a series in the playoffs in 2010; Sacramento has not been there since 2006. Look at every NBA draft in history. Never have the top 5 picks, or even the top 3 picks, turned out to be the best players in their class. Will the Banchero and Murray picks prove wise, or will those decisions backfire on the two notoriously underperforming franchises that made them?

I have no problem with what the magic did. I find it entertaining and kind of unbelievable how this front office has successfully tricked the entire league into believing they’re taking Smith. But I’ve put this banchero on record for weeks is the best view in this class. He may be the player who can change the fate and future of a franchise that badly needs it. He has star power and tangible all-star potential.

The beauty of all this is that we don’t know. Will Banchero be the best? Has Orlando just changed the trajectory of his franchise for the better for the next 10 years, or is it doomed to have passed on two other great genre-changing men who might prove they look dumb? And don’t think Oklahoma City is off the hook because it finished second. Will the Thunder look bad in five years? With Banchero off the board, Smith sat there trying to win him. Many draftniks and NBA scouts ranked Smith comfortably ahead of Holmgren. But as most expected, OKC general manager Sam Presti held on to his heart and took the player differently than everyone else.

That puts Houston in the best spot of any team in the top five. There’s a reasonable chance that the top player in this draft fell to them in 3rd place.


If Smith hits big and becomes the best player, it’s not unreasonable that we could look up to 2027 and see the Rockets compete for a place in the NBA Finals while Thunder and Magic are still in the lottery. This has been one of the more intriguing entries into a draft in a while. It managed to exceed expectations.

With that in mind, it’s been a long time since the pick of an NBA draft has felt this to be consistent. And that’s before we even get to the Kings’ decision not to take on the prospect, which has almost universally been cited as the fourth best (at worst) on the board, Ivey. The Purdue dynamo didn’t feel like going there, and that trick eventually worked perfectly for Ivey and Detroit. You can easily argue that with De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell, it would have been difficult to fit in with those two and Ivey in Sacramento. But these are the kings. And it’s not hard to imagine the Pistons thriving with Cade Cunningham and Ivey while the Kings continue to be… the Kings.

You need a player who can be a superstar – who can take you out of NBA purgatory. The Kings are telling the league by picking Keegan Murray they think he’s more likely to do that than Ivey. Few others would agree.

And now, combined with 13th overall pick Jalen Duren, the Pistons appear to be assembling one of the most exciting young rosters in the league.

Expectations and assumptions were thwarted in the most dramatic way on Thursday evening. There’s virtually no chance that Banchero, Holmgren, Smith, Murray, and Ivey will end up as the top five players in this draft. The top five picks will be the top five guys, well that’s never happened before. je. At least one team – probably two and maybe even three – miscalculated and made mistakes tonight.

The magic has rarely been relevant in the past decade. But in their greatest moment in a generation on Thursday night, they twisted the future of the entire NBA — fooling the rest of the league. Now all that’s left for Banchero to do is live up to the expectations of Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard, the two former No. 1 overall winners as the big men who guided the Magic to NBA Finals appearances.

In a draft as stacked and debated as this one, everything else will be a failure.


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