NBA Draft 2022: Why Magic Should Pick Paolo Banchero With No. 1 Pick

The Orlando Magic have been looking for a franchise player since they traded Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers before the 2012-2013 season. In the nine years since then, Orlando is 255-464 overall, the worst record in the NBA during that time.

The Magic have had four top-five and three top-eight picks in the draft since trading Howard. None of those players have made an All-Star appearance for Orlando. The top pick of that batch, 2013 second overall pick Victor Oladipo, didn’t become a star until he was on his third team with the Indiana Pacers. Aaron Gordon, the fourth overall pick in 2014, was always more of a role player than a centerpiece. Mario Hezonja was an outright bust as the No. 5 pick in 2015. Jonathan Isaac, the No. 6 pick in 2017, emerged as an incredible defender but has now not played in two years due to injuries and bizarre off-the-court activities. . . Mo Bamba became a solid player last season as the former No. 6 pick in 2018, but the team refused to give him an early contract extension.

The Magic had two top eight picks last year, taking guard Jalen Suggs at No. 5 and forward Franz Wagner at No. 8. Wagner was particularly impressive as a rookie and should be a big piece going forward. . There’s also a lot of hope left for Suggs, but neither feels like a future All-NBA-level player.

The Magic getting the No. 1 overall pick in 2022 is their golden opportunity to finally find their franchise player. Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith Jr. and Paolo Banchero are legitimate options to go first in the draft, but only one player really fits what the Magic need.

That player is Paolo Banchero. Read our full breakdown on why Banchero is our top prospect in this draft. That’s why the Magic should take Banchero No. 1 overall in the 2022 NBA Draft.

Paolo Banchero has a better chance of becoming a top starter than anyone else in the 2022 NBA Draft

Banchero, Holmgren and Smith are top prospects with different skill sets. Holmgren is an elite rim protector on defense who will provide offensive value by moving the ball, hitting 3-pointers and finishing well at the rim with dunks. Smith is perhaps the best shooter in the draft as a 6-foot-10 sharpshooter who can take and make extremely difficult shots.

The reason Banchero has been our No. 1 prospect since the beginning of the cycle is because he’s the only one of the three who projects as a leading offensive option in the NBA.

At 6’10, 250 pounds, Banchero thrives on playing with the ball in his hands with his advanced handling and excellent passing ability for a player his size. Banchero can build offense for himself and his teammates off the rebound, while Holmgren and Smith need someone else to set them up. Holmgren and Smith aren’t breaking down the opposing defense and finding teammates for easy scores like this. There aren’t many (any?) NBA players who can do this at 6’10, 250 pounds.

Banchero can also score off the rebound. Put a larger player on Banchero and he will often break free using his handle. Put a smaller, faster defender on Banchero and he’ll use his size and strength to his advantage to score inside. He throws two at the ball and Paolo can be counted on to make the correct pass.

Again, neither Smith nor Holmgren can create a dribbling separation like this against a fixed defense in the middle of the pitch.

Banchero’s ability to create advantages with his size is what separates him from his peers in this draft class. That fits wonderfully with what Orlando’s roster needs.

The Magic are still looking for a main creator

The Magic have a lot of good pieces right now. What they lack is a star photo maker to help place everyone in the appropriate roles and maximize their strengths. Here are the centerpieces on Orlando’s roster right now:

  • G Jalen Suggestions: The 6-foot-4 combo guard does a bit of everything. Suggs projects as an ideal secondary pick-and-roll option, a transition killer, a spirited defender at the point of attack, and should be close to a league-average 3-point shooter next year (say, 35 percent) after shooting just 21 percent of his 3s this season. Suggs took 39 percent of his shots at the rim last season, a mark that ranked in the 88th percentile among shooting guards combined, according to Cleanliness of the Glass. While that’s certainly impressive, he’s more comfortable attacking defenses that are already committed rather than being the main guy creating leads off the rebound.
  • G Cole Anthony: Anthony just turned 22 and is coming off an encouraging season in his second season in the NBA. The 6-foot-2 guard is a better shooter than his 33.7 percent mark would indicate, and he’s a good athlete who gets to the rim. He also ranked only in the 42nd percentile as a pick-and-roll ball handler, and he had some difficulty finishing. He is another player who would benefit from playing alongside a star who could set him up for easy shots.
  • Franz Wagner: Last year’s No. 8 overall pick is a 6-foot-9 forward who’s good at a lot of things rather than good at nothing. He’s a dependable defender both on the perimeter and inside, he’s shown promise as a pick-and-roll handler and passer, and he’s made 35 percent of his 3-pointers. Every team in the league covets big wings with Wagner’s skill set. He may be the best creator on the list right now, but it feels overly ambitious to place him as the No. 1 option long-term.
  • F/C Wendell Carter Jr.: Carter is a great combo coming off a career year in his fourth pro season. He’s about the same size as Banchero at 6-10, 270 pounds, but he doesn’t create rebounds like Paolo. Instead, Carter is mostly an undersized center with flashes of passing and shooting ability who can stay solid defensively and compete on the glass. He’s a good player, but you’re not passing up a potential top creator because of him.
  • C Mo Bamba: Bamba is a restricted free agent and may not be available next season. His build is similar to Holmgren’s with a 7-foot-7 wingspan, and he’s made 38 percent of his 3-pointers this season, mostly off the fly. Bamba’s skill set would be a nice complement to Banchero’s if Orlando moves him to No. 1.

You can also add Markelle Fultz, Chuma Okeke and RJ Hampton to the mix. The eight players mentioned will be 24 years old or younger next season. Orlando has found some good young pieces in the draft, but all of them would look much better playing alongside an offensive option.

Paolo Banchero is the best option for the Magic and the best overall talent in the 2022 NBA Draft

Here’s a rule of thumb I try to follow: If an NBA team doesn’t have a primary creator, their biggest need is to find one. Holmgren is an incredible talent who would immediately provide a huge boost to Orlando’s defense, but he’s not creating easy offensive opportunities for himself and his teammates. Smith is an unreal shooter, but he is at his best when someone is setting him up for the shot. Smith’s biggest weakness is scoring off the dribble and finishing inside the arc after he only made 43 percent of his 2-point field goals at Auburn. Holmgren’s one-on-one scoring remains a question mark despite all of his strengths that contribute to winning basketball. both are games finalistsnot game creators.

The Magic will get a very good player if they draft either, but it looks like they’ll still be looking for their primary creator if it happens. Of course, it’s possible that Suggs or Wagner will become that guy. Anthony and Fultz could also appear in that role. It feels too optimistic to think that any of the four can really be the type for a franchise.

banker can be the type in the right environment. This is a star move.

This is a star move:

This is also a star move:

Banchero is not a perfect player. He is not a great athlete to run and jump. He only made 33 percent of his 3-pointers this year, and his ability to catch and shoot from the NBA line remains a question mark. His lack of elite speed or uncanny length limits his defense to around “average”, making him probably the worst defender of any potential top 3 pick.

At the same time, Banchero can create offense off the rebound in a way Holmgren and Smith can’t dream of. He is by far the best ball handler in the half court and by far the best live dribbling passer. He also has an excellent midrange scoring package and some good post moves.

Early reports are that Orlando will choose between Smith and Holmgrenbut to me at least, Banchero’s skill set is exactly what the Magic have been missing.

Add Comment