NBA Draft: Grading every first-round pick after rookie year

2022 NBA Draft Class. Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images
2022 NBA Draft Class. Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images /
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NBA Draft
Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero (Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports) /

1. Orlando Magic – Paolo Banchero, Duke Blue Devils

The days leading up to the 2022 NBA Draft were chaotic as teams tried to predict who would go first overall. The prevailing opinion leading into draft day was that Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr. would go first to the Orlando Magic, but then the prestige came and Paolo Banchero was suddenly wearing a Magic uniform.

Banchero had a standout rookie season, exactly the sort of year you would want from a No. 1 pick. He became the Magic’s top offensive option, averaging 20 points per game on the dot and showing off passing chops with 3.7 assists as he manned the point forward role. He was relatively inefficient trying to be the offensive engine as a rookie, shooting just 42.7 percent from the field and 29.8 percent from deep, but most rookies in large roles are.

The best part of the past year is that the Magic’s choice has only been affirmed. Banchero won Rookie of the Year and looks to have the best ceiling and certainly the best floor of any prospect in the draft. He would go first overall in a redraft, which is all you can ask.

Grade: A