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Banchero says morning of draft he had no idea where he would go

Kurt Helin talks with Michael Holley about his NBA tiers, including if the Celtics can keeping things rolling without Ime Udoka and who will start making moves to secure the top lottery pick.

Two days before, the odds had started moving unpredictably and wildly — for months Jabari Smith looked like he would go first overall in the 2022 NBA Draft, but suddenly big bets were coming in and the odds on Duke’s Paolo Banchero started dropping rapidly. What was behind this — wild speculation, or did somebody know something?

It turns out, somebody knew something. Banchero went No.1 overall to the Orlando Magic.

What did Banchero himself know and when did he know it? He was in the dark like the rest of us, he told Marc Stein in his latest substack newsletter.

“By [the morning of the draft] I was still a little unsure. I didn’t know if I was going 1, 2 or 3. A week before the draft, I was pretty set that I was going where I was projected to go, which was probably third, and then maybe three days before the draft all the stuff started happening with the odds. The odds went way down and it was in my favor all of a sudden. So then I’m like, ‘OK, maybe I’m not going 3.’”

Where Banchero landed might be the best fit for him, a promising young team but one that lacked the shot creation he can provide. Is there a player Banchero modeled his game after?

LeBron [James] and Carmelo [Anthony], growing up, were by far my two favorites like my whole childhood. And then as I got older I started to know about Anthony Davis and Jayson Tatum — dynamic forwards who are able to play inside or outside. But then I also want to have my own style of play with my own flair. I’m just trying to be myself.

Banchero is the heavy betting favorite to win Rookie of the Year (especially after Chet Holmgren’s injury), he’s going to have the ball in his hands and the chance to put up numbers. The Magic will not win many games this season, but they will be entertaining to watch.