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Duke superstar Paolo Banchero has found a new home out in Florida. 

The Magic selected the 6’ 10” forward as the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA draft, which came as a surprise when the selection was announced, as many had projected Auburn’s Jabari Smith to go first overall. Banchero had a standout freshman campaign with the Blue Devils, leading them to the Final Four, where they fell to rival North Carolina in coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final season at the helm for Duke. 

The 2022 ACC Rookie of the Year averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 39 games, leading the team in points and rebounds.

And his postseason numbers in Duke’s run were just as eye-catching. He averaged 17.8 points with 8.0 boards and 3.6 assists over eight games in the ACC and NCAA tournaments, finishing his brief collegiate career with a 20-point, 10-rebound performance against the Tar Heels. During that stretch, he tallied four double-doubles and three 20-plus point outings. 

Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo wrote the following about the Duke standout in his final draft projections: “His unique mix of power, skill and passing chops let him operate all over the floor as a playmaking fulcrum, and pairing him with Jalen Green in two-man situations offers a lot of creative possibilities. There aren’t many players his size with his level of coordination, and he should be able to create plenty of mismatches if deployed creatively.” (Woo gives the pick an A- grade; for more draft pick grades, read on here.)

Orlando is in the process of rebuilding, having won 42 games combined over the past two seasons. The last time the Magic had the No. 1 pick was in 2004, when the team selected center Dwight Howard.

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