NBA draft: Who will the Orlando Magic select with the No. 1 pick?

Orlando Magic picked the #1 pick Thursday night and several names have been linked to the team, though Magic president Jeff Weltman has kept his cards close to his chest this week.

“The dialogue is always ongoing,” Weltman said Monday. “But above all, we can do whatever we want. That’s the real benefit of being number 1.”

Jabari Smith Jr.

The top contenders for number 1 are Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jrwho trained for Orlando earlier this month, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgrenwho met with the magic and Duke’s Paolo Bancherowho trained with former Magic Guard Mike Miller.

All three players have strong arguments as draft picks due to their unique physiques and basketball skills. Weltman wouldn’t say these are the only three candidates Orlando would consider for number one.

“It’s confirmed that there are a lot of talented players at the top of this draft, that’s for sure,” he added.

Fourth time No. 1 in the draft

Orlando will pick No. 1 for the fourth time. The Magic brought in Shaquille O’Neal with the top pick in 1992. And most recently, in 2004, The Magic chose Dwight Howard with the first pick.

Jabari Smith Jr. is the most likely pick of the top three. Smith is an easy leader ahead of Holmgren. The Magic finished this season at No. 28 on a three-point percentage, and Smith is an elite shooter at 6’10.

In the past season Smith went 42.9% from the field, 42.0% from three-point range, and 79.9% from the free-throw line. He has the ability to score on all three levels of the floor.

Holmgren’s size

Chet Holmgren comes in at 7’0″ and 195 pounds. His outrageous size gives the standout Gonzaga an impressive defensive presencewhich benefits from its wingspan of 7′6″.

Banchero’s versatility

Paolo Banchero offers Orlando the most positional versatility. In 38 games this season, the 19-year-old has averaged team-high 17.1 PPG, 7.7 RPG and 3.2 APG while shooting 47.8% from field and 33.3% from three-point range.

Banchero said Friday he felt that way “Best player in the draft, I feel like I’ve shown that all year.” Duke assistant head coach Chris Carrawell said he thinks Banchero should also be No. 1 overall.

“For a non-security guard his size, he can shoot inside and out,” Carrawell said. “That is rare.”

Thursday’s No. 1 pick will join a group in Orlando that already includes the 2017 top pick Markle Fultza pair of top 8 picks from the 2021 draft Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs as well ColeAnthony#15 in the 2020 draft.

The 2022 NBA Draft will be held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn Thursday 23 June.

The Magic secured the #1 pick in the draft lottery, which ranks the top 14 picks, in early June. It’s the first time Orlando has had the opening pick since 2004, when the Florida franchise chose Dwight Howard, a player who went on to become an eight-time All-Star.

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