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NBA Draft: Can Paolo Banchero Still Be The Magic Pick?

Is it a three-horse race again?

ORLANDO - Since it was announced that the Orlando Magic would pick first in the NBA Draft a month ago, it's been widely viewed as a two-man race to see who will become the top pick between Jabari Smith and Chet Holmgren.

Paolo Banchero quickly slipped in the process once Orlando was awarded the No. 1 pick, but with just a week before the draft, things might be opening up.

In the latest episode of The Game Theory Podcast, draft analyst Matt Pennie opens the door with the option of Banchero heading to Orlando with the top pick.

"I don't think it's a foregone conclusion that Paolo doesn't go #2 or maybe even #1," Pennie said. He's looked phenomenal during the pre-draft process. He's gone in and crushed everywhere. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive."

Banchero's one-and-done season at Duke showcased just how spectacular he could be as a prototype forward in the league.

Posting over 17 points and nearly eight rebounds on 47.8 percent from the field, he wields a blend of scoring and facilitating that is rare to find at his size.

At 6-10 and 250 pounds, the ACC Freshman of the Year possesses an NBA-ready body that would just become better with training at the next level.

For a team that ranked second worst in the NBA in scoring, Banchero would be given the green light with the Magic to create offense off the dribble.

Despite shooting a subpar 33.8 percent from three while at Duke, he still has the mechanics and ability to be an elite scorer from all three levels.

On top of his ability to put the ball in the basket, Banchero is also an underrated facilitator, whether that be in the open court after grabbing a defensive rebound, or in half-court offensive sets, he has the vision and basketball IQ to be a five assist caliber player.

The all-around offensive game that Banchero provides will be valuable to whoever within the top three selects him on draft night.