ORLANDO - Years from now, the 2022 NBA Draft will likely be defined by the Orlando Magic and its stunning decision at the beginning of the night to take Paolo Banchero first overall.
Banchero, who was widely expected to go No. 3, emerged as the frontrunner in the eleventh hour, only becoming the odds-on favorite on the day of the draft.
The Magic also shook up things in the second round, trading the No. 35 pick to the Los Angeles Lakers hours before the draft and selecting Michigan's Caleb Houstan with the No. 32 pick.
After sleeping and pondering the decisions the Magic made, here's a grade for each decision the team made.
Paolo Banchero, Duke, No. 1:
Despite not working out with the team, Banchero met with the Magic several times according to team president Jeff Weltman.
Even though many declared the top pick sweepstakes a two-horse race between Chet Holmgren and Jabari Smith Jr. when the Magic won the lottery last month, Banchero was always considered an option by the team.
In 36 career games at Duke last season, Banchero averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.1 steals. He also took home ACC Rookie of the Year and First-Team All-ACC honors following his lone campaign at Duke.
The new Magic forward definitely had the resume and the accolades to be the top pick and many graded him as the best player in the draft, including Magic management.
It's hard to give the Magic anything other than an A for not taking who it believed to be the best player in the draft class.
Caleb Houstan, Michigan, No. 32:
Houstan was a top-10 prospect in high school in 2021 and joined Michigan in the No. 1 recruiting class in the country.
However, Houstan didn't tear up the Big Ten like many expected him to and he fell down draft boards throughout the season. When declaring for the draft, Houstan maintained his college eligibility before receiving feedback from NBA teams. The feedback he received was enough to keep him in the draft.
Houstan likely stayed in the draft because he has a ton of upside as a 6-8 wing that can defend and play multiple positions. There's an untapped ceiling if he can find the magic that made him a top-10 high school recruit, but he's going to have to earn minutes in a crowded wing rotation if he wants to get there.
Houstan likely spends majority of his rookie year in the G League with Lakeland before getting an opportunity late in the year with Orlando.
Trade with Lakers
Orlando receives: Cash considerations, 2028 second-round pick
Los Angeles receives: No. 35 pick (draft rights to Max Christie)
The Magic knew it did not want to keep all three picks it entered the night with as the team did not want to create any more of a logjam for minutes.
There was potential for the team to package the picks to trade back up into the first round, but the Magic opted to receive money and a second-round pick that's probably in middle school right now.
The motivation to trade the pick was in the right place, but the turnout is hard to be impressed by when the results don't help the team on the court in the near future.
It's really hard to hate a draft when you take the best player on the board. Banchero gives the team flexibility and versatility in how the Magic want to build moving forward, and he should fit extremely well alongside Markelle Fultz, Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner.
Houstan is a developmental project that can work if he earns the minutes, but he'll likely have to wait his turn and/or outplay the other wings on the roster.
Even though this wasn't a perfect draft, the Magic got considerably better on draft night and continue to form a team capable of overcoming this rebuild.