NEW YORK (AP) - - Paolo Banchero has been insisting for weeks that he believes he's the best prospect in the NBA draft. The Orlando Magic agree with him.
The first pick in Thursday's draft brought the first mild surprise, when the Magic chose the Duke forward with the No. 1 selection -- after weeks of speculation that Auburn's Jabari Smith Jr. or Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren might be the ones atop Orlando's list.
"I can't believe what just happened, honestly," Banchero said, after embracing his mother -- Rhonda Smith-Banchero, a former WNBA player.
NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 02: Paolo Banchero #5 of the Duke Blue Devils works on offense against Leaky Black #1 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Final Four at Caesars Superdome on April 2, 2022 in New Orl
Banchero averaged 17.2 points in his lone college season, along with 7.8 rebounds and was a third-team Associated Press All-American. There were roars from the crowd at Amway Center -- Banchero's new home court -- when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced just past 8 p.m. that the Magic were on the clock.
It didn't take long for the Magic to send in the official word. Banchero is heading to Orlando, with plans for his official welcome at his new home on Friday.
Silver is a Duke grad. And as is tradition for the commissioner, he gave Banchero a handshake and warm embrace after the new No. 1 pick put on a Magic hat and took the stage for his big moment.
This was the fourth time that Orlando made the No. 1 selection. If history holds true, Banchero is going to have a long career in this league. The Magic took Shaquille O'Neal with the top selection in 1992. Chris Webber was the No. 1 pick by Orlando in 1993, and he got traded that same night for Penny Hardaway and a package of future picks that eventually led to Vince Carter and Mike Miller. And in 2004, the Magic selected Dwight Howard with the first pick.
Miller has his fingerprints on this pick as well: He's been working with Banchero in recent weeks, getting him ready for the NBA grind.
Now, it's Banchero's turn to be the prized rookie, after Orlando decided to choose him over the two other highly touted candidates for the No. 1 pick -- Smith and Holmgren. Banchero also became the 13th consecutive player to get drafted No. 1 overall after just one year of college.
Thunder take Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren with No. 2 overall pick
The Oklahoma City Thunder chose Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren with the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA draft on Thursday night.
Holmgren, a versatile 7-footer from Minneapolis, was a second-team Associated Press All-American in his only college season. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.9 rebounds and ranked fourth nationally with 3.7 blocks per game for the Zags. He shot 61% from 3-point range and 39% from 3-point range last season -- the kind of efficiency that could help a Thunder team that ranked last in the league in field goal percentage, 3-point percentage and scoring last season.
His skill could help him be effective as he works to add to his slender 195-pound frame. He will join a young core that includes Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Lu Dort, Darius Bazley and Tre Mann. Alexander averaged 24.5 points last season.
Giddey, last year's No. 6 overall pick, was a second-team All-Rookie selection last season. Dort is one of the league's best defensive players when healthy. Bazley is an athletic wing player and Mann was an explosive scorer off the bench. Gilgeous-Alexander, the oldest player in that group, is just short of his 24th birthday.
The Thunder hope Holmgren eventually can help them regain some of the glory from the Kevin Durant-Russell Westbrook era. The Thunder went to the Western Conference Finals four times with that duo and the NBA Finals once. The Thunder have not won a playoff series since Durant left and have missed the playoffs the past two seasons. They went 24-58 last season. The franchise has had success early in drafts in the past, selecting Durant No. 2 overall in 2007, Westbrook No. 4 overall in 2008, and James Harden No. 3 in 2009.
Houston takes Auburn's Jabari Smith with No. 3 overall pick
The Houston Rockets selected Auburn freshman Jabari Smith Jr. with the third overall pick in the NBA draft Thursday night, adding a skilled player to join last year's second pick Jalen Green as the team continues its rebuild. Smith was one of three first-round picks the Rockets had in this year's draft. Houston also had the 17th pick, which the team received as part of the trade for James Harden, and the 26th pick but whoever is drafted in that slot will go to the Dallas Mavericks once the trade for center Christian Wood is official.
The Rockets have finished with the NBA's worst record the last two seasons after reaching the playoffs in each of the previous eight seasons. After trading Harden and the rest of their established stars, Houston went all in on the rebuild, looking to develop young draft picks to bring the team back into contention.
Smith comes to Houston after the power forward averaged 16.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and two assists per game to win SEC freshman of the year, All-SEC first-team and second-team All-America honors.
Green had a solid rookie year, starting 67 games and averaging 17.3 points, 2.6 assists and 3.4 rebounds last season. Green was one of four first-round picks the Rockets had last season, as they also added Alperen Sengun at 16, Usman Garuba with the 23rd pick and Josh Christopher at 24.
Houston is counting on Sengun to be its long-term solution at center after dealing Wood. He played mostly a reserve role last season, appearing in 72 games with 13 starts. The Turkish player averaged 9.6 points and 5.5 rebounds as a rookie.
Christopher also contributed off the bench last season, averaging 7.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and two assists. Garuba played in just 24 games as a rookie after missing significant time with a broken wrist.
The Rockets will expect Smith to play immediately as they move on from Wood, who led the team in scoring in each of the last two seasons. If the 19-year-old starts as expected, the team will field an extraordinarily young starting lineup with four players under 22.
Kings nab Iowa's versatile Keegan Murray with No. 4 overall pick
The Sacramento Kings selected Iowa forward Keegan Murray with the fourth overall pick in the NBA draft.
A first-team All-American as a sophomore, Murray was the Big Ten's leading scorer at 23.5 points a game and averaged 8.7 rebounds while playing alongside twin brother Kris. The 6-foot-8, 225-pound Murray gives Kings first-year coach Mike Brown a versatile wing player to complement a core group anchored by point guard De'Aaron Fox and 6-foot-11 power forward Domantas Sabonis.
Murray's value vaulted after a stellar sophomore season at Iowa. He improved his scoring more than 16 points from his freshman year and made 66 3-pointers -- 50 more than he had the previous season with the Hawkeyes. The Kings have not made the playoffs in an NBA-record 16 consecutive seasons.
Pistons take Purdue's Jaden Ivey with No. 5 overall pick
The Detroit Pistons selected Purdue's Jaden Ivey with the No. 5 overall pick in the NBA draft on Thursday night, adding desperately needed talent to a team led by Cade Cunningham.
Detroit's rebuilding plan should get a boost with the addition of the dynamic player with scoring ability. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Ivey can play point or shooting guard. He averaged 17.3 points last season and made 46% of his shots overall and 36% beyond the 3-point arc for the Boilermakers.
The day before the draft, the Pistons agreed to trade Jerami Grant to Portland for the No. 36 pick overall this year and a first-round pick in 2025. The Olympic gold medalist was due to make $21 million and Detroit didn't appear to be interested in giving him another contract to be part of its latest rebuild.
The Pistons cleared cap space with the trade, giving them about $44 million available this summer to potentially be a major player in free agency. They also lost a player, who averaged nearly 21 points over the previous two seasons.
Ivey will have opportunities to fill part of the scoring void left by Grant's departure with shots set up by Cunningham, who was drafted No. 1 overall last year and was unanimously voted to the NBA All-Rookie first team.
While the Pistons hit on their pick last year, they may have missed in 2020 with the selection of guard Killian Hayes at No. 7 overall. Hayes has averaged 6.8 points and 4.5 assists over two seasons.
Detroit needs Ivey to pan out after winning just 23 games, finishing ahead of only Houston and Orlando in the league last year.
The Pistons have made the playoffs just twice over the last 13 seasons, following an eight-year run in which they won a third NBA title, fell a win short of repeating and advanced to six straight conference finals.
Indiana Pacers take Arizona's Bennedict Mathurin at No. 6 overall pick
The Indiana Pacers took Arizona sophomore Bennedict Mathurin at No. 6 overall in the NBA draft Thursday night. Mathurin, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard/small forward, averaged 17.7 points. 5.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists last season, when he was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year. He shot 45% from the field, including 36.9% from 3-point range in helping the Wildcats reach the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament. Mathurin grew up in Montreal and his parents in Haiti.
It was the first time the Pacers had a single-digit draft pick since drafting George McCloud with the No. 9 draft pick in 1989. It followed a 25-57 season, good enough for only 13th in the Eastern Conference in the first season of coach Rick Carlisle's second stint with Indiana. It was the Pacers' fewest wins since 1984-85 when they finished 22-60.
Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard began a rebuild of the team after guards Malcolm Brogdon and T.J. McConnell, forward T.J. Warren and center Myles Turner all had lengthy absences because of injuries.
Warren missed the entire season with a foot injury. Brogdon played in just 36 games while Turner played in 42. McConnell played in 27 games. Both might have been able to play later in the season but were shut down with Pacers' season going nowhere.
The Pacers traded two-time All-Star Domantas Sabonis to Sacramento in February, acquiring Tyrese Halliburton and Buddy Hield and Jalen Smith. With Halliburton, the Pacers appear to finally have a play making ball-handler. Indiana's 2021 first-round pick Chris Duarte had a solid rookie season, averaging 13.1 points.
The Pacers traded Caris LeVert to Cleveland with the main prize being the 2022 lottery protected first-round pick. Since Cleveland faded and didn't make the playoffs, that pick will now be lottery protected for 2023. The Pacers also held the No. 31 pick in the second round, from Houston via Cleveland, and No. 58 from Phoenix.
Blazers select Shaedon Sharpe with No. 7 overall pick
The Portland Trail Blazers selected Shaedon Sharpe with the seventh pick in the NBA draft on Thursday, taking a chance on a player who never suited up in college.
Sharpe, 6-foot-6 wing from Canada, was a five-star recruit who committed to Kentucky but never played for the Wildcats. He intended on redshirting his first season but instead decided to declare for the draft. The Blazers also had the 46th and 57th picks.
Coming off a season marked by a spate of injuries, a new coach, a front-office shakeup and a roster overhaul, the Blazers are rebuilding around All-Star Damian Lillard. Portland added a piece on Wednesday, acquiring Jerami Grant from the Detroit Pistons, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither team announced the agreement.
Lillard, who was injured for much of last season, played with Grant on the gold medal-winning U.S. team at last year's Tokyo Olympics. Grant averaged 19.2 points in 47 games last season with the Pistons.
The Blazers finished 27-55 last season, their worst record since 2005-06. Clearly eying draft position late in the season, Portland lost 11 games by more than 30 points after the All-Star break.
Pelicans take G League's Dyson Daniels at No. 8 overall pick
The New Orleans Pelicans selected Dyson Daniels in Thursday night's NBA draft, using the No. 8 pick to add size to their backcourt. Daniels, 6-foot-8, 199 pounds, is a 19-year-old Australian who played in the G League last season. He averaged 12.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.1 assists in 26 games.
He's joining a backcourt that was bolstered in the middle of last season when New Orleans acquired veteran guard CJ McCollum in a trade with Portland. McCollum, 6-foot-3, teamed with forward Brandon Ingram to lead a Pelicans' late-season surge. McCollum's partner in the backcourt was rookie Herbert Jones, 6-7, a second-round pick who was named to named as second team all-defensive player.
The Pelicans drafted Daniels with a pick acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers in the Anthony Davis trade three years ago. The addition of Daniels adds more youth to what appears to be a rising team. New Orleans overcame a 3-16 start last season to qualify for the Western Conference play-in tournament with a 36-46 record.
The Pelicans won elimination games against the Spurs and Clippers before losing to top-seeded Phoenix 4-2 in a first-round playoff series. New Orleans expects to have forward Zion Williamson, the No. 1 overall pick in 2019, in the lineup after he missed all of last season due to foot surgery. He has played in just 85 games in three seasons because of various injuries, but when he has been healthy he has shown the productivity that was expected, averaging 25.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3,.2 assists per game.
McCollum and staring center Jonas Valanciunas are both 30 years old, but otherwise, New Orleans has a very young nucleus. Ingram is 24, Williamson turns 22 next month, Jones is 23, starting forward Jaxson Hayes is 22 as is last year's No. 1, wing Trey and Murphy III, is 22.
New Orleans has 14 players under contract for next season and no significant free agents. The Pelicans also have two second-round picks - Nos. 41 and 52 overall.
Spurs select Baylor's Jeremy Sochan at No. 9 overall pick
The San Antonio Spurs chose Baylor's Jeremy Sochan with the No. 9 overall selection in the NBA Draft on Thursday night. A 6-foot-9 forward, Sochan averaged 9.2 points and 6.4 rebounds in his lone season with the Bears.
Sochan joins a franchise rebuilding after being the league's winningest franchise over two decades. San Antonio qualified for a league-record 22 straight postseasons beginning in 1998, winning five NBA championships over that span with stars such as Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
After missing the postseason the past two seasons, the Spurs are attempting to reinvigorate their franchise behind All-Star Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, Josh Primo and now Sochan. Born in Guymon, Oklahoma, Sochan spent much of his life in England before committing to Baylor in 2020. Sochan was San Antonio's sixth lottery selection since it began in 1985, the fewest in the league ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers (seven) and Houston (10).
San Antonio also had the 20th, 25th selections in the first round and second round It is the first time the Spurs have three first-round picks in the same draft in the franchise's 50-year history in San Antonio. San Antonio acquired the 20th selection from Toronto as compensation for acquiring Goran Dragic from the Raptors. The 25th pick was part of the compensation the Spurs received from the Boston Celtics for Derrick White.
Wizards draft Wisconsin's Johnny Davis with 10th overall pick
The Washington Wizards selected Johnny Davis with the 10th pick in Thursday night's NBA draft, capping his impressive rise from role player to lottery pick. The 6-foot-5 Davis averaged 19.7 points per game as a sophomore last season -- up from 7.0 in 2020-21. He earned first-team All-America honors for his two-way contributions, and now he joins a team that's coming off a disappointing season in which star guard Bradley Beal was limited by a wrist injury.
The big question for the Wizards this offseason is whether they can keep Beal, but on draft night they added a tough wing who averaged an impressive-for-his-size 8.2 rebounds last season. Davis' outside shooting is a question mark -- he made just 31% of his 3-pointers as a sophomore.
Draft day last year was when Washington agreed to deal Russell Westbrook to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Wizards replaced him with Spencer Dinwiddie, but he was also traded before the season was over, so Washington entered this offseason with point guard as a significant need.
It's not clear if Davis can help the Wizards much in that respect, but he led Wisconsin to a share of the Big Ten title, with a 37-point, 14-rebound performance at Purdue among the highlights. Washington also has the 54th pick in the draft.