The Orlando Magic are hoping that former Duke forward Paolo Banchero becomes the face of the franchise for years to come.
Banchero was selected first overall in the 2022 NBA Draft last month. He joins Shaquille O’Neal (1992), Chris Webber (1993) and Dwight Howard (2004) as players selected by the Magic with the No. 1 overall pick.
We begin a two-part series, examining how Banchero is similar and different to Orlando’s past top picks. Here’s a look at five similarities.
1. At Least 6-foot-10
With each of their No. 1 overall picks, the Orlando Magic have sought size. Banchero is listed at 6-10 and 250 pounds. Although he was traded to the Golden State Warriors on draft night for Anfernee Hardaway and never played a game for the Magic, Webber was also 6-10. So was Dwight Howard. O’Neal was 7-1.
2. Did Not Play Four Years of College Basketball
College seniors are rarely selected in the NBA Draft in this era, but that wasn’t always the case. Despite that, the Magic have never taken a college senior first overall in the NBA Draft. Among those on this list, Howard is the only top pick who did not attend college. O’Neal spent three years at LSU while Webber spent two at Michigan. Banchero’s stay at Duke was just one season.
3. McDonald’s All-American
Like O’Neal, Webber and Howard, Banchero was a McDonald’s All-American as a high school senior. Unfortunately for Banchero, he didn’t get to play in the McDonald’s All-American Game because it was canceled for reasons pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Banchero was the No. 2 overall high school player in the country for 2021.
4. Never Won a Conference Championship in College
For high draft picks, team success usually is a given. While team success was common for each of Orlando’s top overall picks, none were ever on a team that won a conference championship in college. Howard, of course, did not attend college. Webber played in the Final Four in each of his two seasons at Michigan, but there was no Big Ten Tournament at the time and Ohio State and Indiana claimed conference titles in his two seasons. During O’Neal’s three seasons at LSU, the Tigers never made it past the semifinals of the SEC Tournament. Last season, Banchero and Duke were upset by Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship.
5. Picked Before Another Big
As previously stated, each of the Magic’s four No. 1 overall picks have been at least 6-10. The picks that followed each, however, were also big men. In 1992, O’Neal was followed by Georgetown center Alonzo Mourning. A year later, it was 7-7 Shawn Bradley who followed Webber. Howard was ultimately followed by Connecticut center Emeka Okafor. Picked behind Banchero this year was 7-0 unicorn Chet Holmgren, from Gonzaga.