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NBA Draft: Paolo Banchero Out of Contention For Magic at No. 1?

The Orlando Magic have hosted two of the projected top three picks over the past two weeks, with Banchero the one exception.

With just days leading up to the NBA Draft, there's been very little to report on the Orlando Magic's interest in Paolo Banchero.

There is no denying the fact that Banchero can put the ball in the basket, and for the Magic who desperately need a go-to scorer the Blue Devil would instantly check that box.

But as we’ve learned from this past NBA season, especially the playoffs, defense can win a lot of ballgames down the stretch, which is why the team could pass on Banchero.

Whether fellow No. 1 pick options Chet Holmgren or Jabari Smith Jr. will become 20-point scorers is still up for debate, but both can make immediate impacts defensively.

Smith Jr’s 7-1 wingspan combined with his lateral quickness on the perimeter makes him a match-up nightmare for point guards looking for a mismatch.

His defensive versatility is a big reason why he has been the favorite to go number one.

His defensive instincts and quick hands led to 12 multi-steal games last season, matched with his vertical and ability to avoid fouling that gave him nine multi-block games on the year.

While Holmgren may not be as versatile defender as Smith, he certainly makes up for it with his rim-protection.

Averaging 3.7 blocks per game that was good for fourth in the NCAA, Holmgren’s help defense IQ is what sets him apart.

Think about the impact Robert Williams has for the Celtics defensively when he is on the floor. Holmgren had the same level of impact last season at Gonzaga.

The Bulldogs posted a 89.6 defensive rating last season, good for top five in the country, but when Holmgren was on the floor, it improved to 78.7, the best individual rating in the nation.

The finalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year will make any guard think twice before attacking the basket.

There is nothing easy about being a rookie in the NBA, but as we’ve seen more than once, being an offensive-minded rookie is even more difficult. There is a good chance Banchero is a viable defensive player in the NBA, it just was not always on display at Duke.

The Magic have intentions of playing in the playoffs next year, and it may just believe Banchero doesn’t give the team the best chance of reaching that goal.