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NBA

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

All three players can make strong cases as the draft’s No. 1 pick, due to their unique physiques and basketball skill sets.

Update:
El único que parece disputar el número 1 a Holmgren. Se trata de un jugador que no ofrece ninguna duda en lo físico y que además es el anotador más completo del draft. Puede tirar saliendo de bloqueos, corriendo al contraataque, con setp-backs, a la media vuelta... No hay lanzamiento que parezca difícil para este jugador con una mano privilegiada. Además, el nivel de intensidad y versatilidad en defensa también juegan a su favor.
Kevin C. CoxGetty Images

Orlando Magic have the No. 1 pick on Thursday night and several names have been linked with the team although Magic President Jeff Weltman has kept his cards close to his chest this week.

“Dialogue is always ongoing,” Weltman said on Monday. “But, most importantly, we get to do what we want. That’s the real benefit of having the No. 1 pick.”

Jabari Smith Jr.

The top candidates for the No. 1 pick are Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr, who worked out for Orlando earlier this month, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren, who has met with the Magic and Duke’s Paolo Banchero, who has been working out with former Magic guard Mike Miller.

All three players have strong cases as the draft’s No. 1 pick, due to their unique physiques and basketball skill sets. Weltman wouldn’t say that those are the only three candidates Orlando would consider at No. 1.

“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 picking No. 1 in draft

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

Jabari Smith Jr. is the most likely pick of the three favourites. Smith is a slight front-runner over Holmgren. The Magic finished No. 28 in three-point percentage this season, and Smith is an elite shooter at 6′10.

This 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 at all three levels of the floor.

Holmgren’s height

Chet Holmgren comes in at 7′0″ and 195-pounds. His unheard-of height gives the Gonzaga standout an impressive defensive presence, which benefits from his 7′6″ wingspan.

Banchero’s versatility

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

Banchero said Friday he feels he is “the best player in the draft, I feel like I showed that throughout the year.” Duke associate head coach Chris Carrawell said he thinks Banchero should be No. 1 overall, too.

“For a non-guard at his size, he can create shots from the inside and out,” Carrawell said. “That’s rare.”

The No. 1 pick on Thursday will join a group in Orlando that already includes 2017 top pick Markelle Fultz, a pair of top-eight picks from the 2021 draft in Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs, as well as Cole Anthony, the No. 15 pick in the 2020 draft.

The 2022 NBA Draft takes place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Thursday 23 June.

The Magic secured the No. 1 selection earlier in June in the Draft Lottery, which determines the order of the top 14 picks. It is the first time Orlando have had the opening pick since 2004, when the Florida franchise chose Dwight Howard, a player who has gone on to become an eight-time All-Star.

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