The injury to Cole Anthony announced by the Orlando Magic on Thursday means they may be running out of guards soon. 

Already without Markelle Fultz and Jalen Suggs, the Magic will now be missing third-year point guard Anthony, who will be sidelined indefinitely after an MRI revealed a right internal oblique injury. 

Anthony was injured in Wednesday’s loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers after he had nine points, five rebounds and five assists in 32 minutes.  

The Magic said that Anthony’s return to play will depend on how he responds to rehabilitation and treatment. In four games this season, he is averaging 15.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists.  

Fultz has yet to play this season due to a toe fracture and Suggs has missed the past three games with a right ankle sprain. 

R.J. Hampton could see an increase in minutes with the Magic thin in the backcourt, while the only other healthy guards on Orlando’s roster are veteran Terrence Ross and rookie Kevon Harris.  

Jayson Tatum did not play down his NBA MVP ambitions after delivering a standout performance to guide the Boston Celtics to a 126-120 victory over the Orlando Magic on Saturday.

The 24-year-old posted 40 points and eight rebounds in a magnificent solo turn, with a late 12-point combination with Derrick White in the fourth quarter helping his team over the line.

Such rich early term form, to take the Celtics to 3-0 through their first three games of the season following wins over the Philadelphia 76ers and the Miami Heat, has already stoked talk of solo accolades for Tatum.

Speaking afterwards, the small forward was quick to caution that the season remains in its infant stages, but acknowledged such an honour is part of why he plays the game.

"I mean, it's early but [the MVP] has always been a goal of mine," he stated. "When I was a kid, getting into the NBA wasn't all I wanted to do.

"I wanted to be a champion, reach all those accolades and accomplishments, and MVP is obviously at the top of that list."

Joel Embiid scored 40 points but it was not enough to prevent the Philadelphia 76ers from slumping to a 0-3 start to the new NBA season after a 114-105 home loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday.

James Harden had minimal impact in the second half as Spurs small forward Doug McDermott took control with an eight-point burst, capping his 14 points, which all came in the second half.

The 76ers, who had been beaten by contenders, the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks, to open their season, squandered Embiid's huge game where he shot 14-of-25 from the field and hauled down 13 rebounds with two blocks.

Harden only added 12 points on four-of-18 shooting, making one-of-six three-point attempts. The former MVP provided 12 assists with nine rebounds and two blocks, but was inconspicuous in the second half with the game up for grabs, with the Spurs defense denying him good looks.

Tyrese Maxey contributed 25 points for the 76ers, including three triples, but Philadelphia slumped to their first 0-3 start since 2016-17.

Devin Vassell (22 points with nine-of-14 field shooting, including four three-pointers) and Keldon Johnson (21 points with eight rebounds) were San Antonio's most productive offensive players.

Mitchell betters LeBron start for Cavs

Donovan Mitchell scored 32 points as he claimed his first win as a Cleveland Cavaliers player in their 128-96 victory over the Chicago Bulls in their home season opener.

Mitchell achieved a feat that not even LeBron James could, becoming the first Cavs player with back-to-back 30-point games to open a season.

The All-Star, who made a high-profile trade from the Utah Jazz to the Cavs in the off-season, landed four-of-six from beyond the arc with nine rebounds and eight assists.

Zach LaVine returned after off-season knee surgery that forced him to miss Chicago's opening two games to top score for the Bulls with 23 points.

Giannis powers Bucks past Rockets

Giannis Antetokounmpo only needed 28 minutes to put on an MVP-like display as the Milwaukee Bucks routed the Houston Rockets 125-105 in their home opener at Fiserv Forum.

Antetokounmpo scored 44 points, shooting 17-of-21 from the field with two three-pointers, along with 12 rebounds and three assists.

The Greek forward became Milwaukee's all-time free throws leader, shooting eight-of-13 from the stripe to exceed Sidney Moncrief's 3,505 record, before sitting out with 8:08 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Jayson Tatum also scored 40 points to lead the 3-0 Boston Celtics past the 0-3 Orlando Magic 126-120, while Paul George had 40 in the Los Angeles Clippers' 111-109 win over the Sacramento Kings.

Paolo Banchero said his dazzling NBA debut was a moment he had "been working for my whole life" after showing why the Orlando Magic made him the first overall pick.

The 19-year-old American-Italian set a Magic points record for a rookie by scoring 27 points with 11-of-18 shooting against the Detroit Pistons, also claiming nine rebounds and providing five assists.

Banchero, who shone for Duke before declaring himself for the 2022 NBA Draft, could not prevent the Magic losing the game 113-109, but his bow at the top level was still one to savour.

The previous most points scored by a Magic rookie on debut was 13 by Mo Bamba four years ago, and Banchero soon sauntered past that mark, while Jaden Ivey did likewise, finishing with 19 points.

Banchero became the first player since LeBron James in 2003 to have a 25-5-5 game or better on debut in the NBA.

His points tally was the most by a number one overall pick on his NBA bow since Allen Iverson scored 30 for the Philadelphia 76ers against the Milwaukee Bucks in November 1996, ESPN said.

"[It is] a moment that you've been working for my whole life – trying to get to this point right here," Banchero said. "It's definitely a milestone.

"I'm proud of myself for getting here. But also, this is the start. It's not the end. You just have to come in and be prepared, be ready and play our best, play my hardest."

He added: "Obviously, would have liked to win. But I just wanted to play hard, play for the team, and that happened, so it's a blessing."

What's more, Banchero felt it could have gone even better on a personal level.

"It's crazy. I felt like I left a lot of points on the board," he said.

"Credit to my team-mates for finding me. It's always nice to see the ball get in that early, get easy buckets around the rim. That's how I try to play, inside out. Try to get easy stuff around the basket and expand out and do more stuff throughout the game."

The New Orleans Pelicans sent a statement to the rest of the league with a 130-108 pounding of the Brooklyn Nets in their opening game of the season on Wednesday night.

Playing away from home, the Pelicans enjoyed a red-hot start, with eight points in the first quarter from Zion Williamson helping to build a 32-14 lead at the first break.

The Nets showed some fight in the second quarter, putting up 36 points in the frame to trim the margin to 58-50 as Kevin Durant had 21 in the first half, but the Pelicans came out of halftime and dropped 40 points in the third period to put the game to bed.

In his first game since May 2021, Williamson looked in tremendous shape, scoring 25 points on 11-of-22 shooting while adding nine rebounds, three assists and four steals. 

He was supported in fine fashion by Brandon Ingram, who top-scored for the Pelicans with 28 points (10-of-17 shooting), seven rebounds and five assists, and C.J. McCollum chipped in 21 points and six assists as well.

For the Nets, Durant showed he is still arguably the best scorer in the league with 32 points on 11-of-21 shooting, and he also tallied four blocks in an impressive two-way performance despite his team's shortcomings.

Box-office Banchero validates top draft selection 

Paolo Banchero was not thought to be an option for the Orlando Magic with the first overall pick until the day of the NBA Draft, but he showed exactly why they took him with a spectacular debut in a 113-109 loss on the road to the Detroit Pistons.

Banchero shattered the Magic record for points by a debuting rookie – previously set at 13 – with 27 on 11-of-18 shooting, and he also grabbed nine rebounds and dished five assists in a complete performance, posting a plus/minus of plus two in his 35 minutes.

It was a great debut for rookie Jaden Ivey as well, who the Pistons selected with the fifth overall pick, as he put up 19 points on eight-of-15 shooting with four assists and three steals.

Ivey complemented last year's top pick Cade Cunningham beautifully, with Cunningham running the show on his way to 18 points (six-of-16 shooting) and 10 assists, while newly acquired Bojan Bogdanovic top-scored for Detroit with 24 points on eight-of-16 shooting after hitting six of his first seven three-point attempts.

Morant lifts the Grizzlies in overtime

Ja Morant had his potential game-winner wiped off the board due to a contentious charging foul, but his Memphis Grizzlies got the job done at home in overtime to defeat the New York Knicks 115-112.

Morant was the game's top-scorer with 34 points on 11-of-24 shooting, and his nine assists was equal with New York's Jalen Brunson for the most in the contest.

Starting in place of the injured Jaren Jackson Jr, Santi Aldama gave a good performance with 18 points (seven-of-14 shooting) and 11 rebounds, while Julius Randle was the Knicks' best player, scoring 24 points (nine-of-16 shooting) with 11 rebounds and six assists.

Mitchell shines in Cavaliers debut despite loss

The Cleveland Cavaliers were treated to a terrific debut from star offseason acquisition Donovan Mitchell, but it was not enough to overcome an early Darius Garland injury in a 108-105 road loss to the Toronto Raptors.

All-Star point guard Garland only played 13 minutes before his night ended with a rough poke to the eye in the second quarter. Taking over some of Garland's point guard responsibilities, Mitchell dished off nine assists as well as leading the game in scoring with 31 on 12-of-21 shooting.

All five Raptors starters scored at least 15 points in classic Toronto fashion, with Pascal Siakam tallying 23 on nine-of-20 shooting with 11 rebounds and four steals, while reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes had 15 points (seven-of-14 shooting) with seven assists and a game-high plus/minus of plus 20 in his 32 minutes.

The NBA season is finally here, with the Golden State Warriors looking to defend their title after defeating the Boston Celtics in this year's NBA Finals.

Golden State will have plenty of serious opposition in their way if they are to go back-to-back, as some powerhouses – like the Los Angeles Clippers and the Milwaukee Bucks – return to full health.

The list of contenders this year may be as deep as it has ever been, with the Philadelphia 76ers, Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns all definitely believing they have what it takes, and young sides like the Memphis Grizzlies and the Minnesota Timberwolves going all-in with the cores they have assembled.

After one of the best rookie classes in recent memory last season, this year's draftees have plenty to live up to, so to preview the season, we will start at the top.

Who are the favourites?

Despite not making the NBA Finals this past season, any conversation about potential champions in 2022-23 begins with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks.

The Bucks took the Celtics to Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals, and that was while they were missing their second-best player as Khris Middleton was sidelined for the entire series after suffering a knee injury in the first round. 

There is a convincing case to be made that they would have gone back-to-back with a healthy Middleton, but instead, the Warriors were able to take care of business in the Finals and collect the fourth championship of the Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green era.

Golden State return almost their full team, and with even marginal improvement from second-year lottery picks Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga, they will be one of the deepest rosters in the league, and will have the ammunition to put together one of the better trade packages if a disgruntled star appears around the deadline.

The Celtics will likely remain one of the best defensive units in the league, and will therefore always have a chance in the playoffs, and if the Warriors are not to come out of the Western Conference, the Nuggets or the Clippers are finally healthy and poised to make some noise.

Who are the dark horses?

Despite winning the title in 2019, the Toronto Raptors will come into this season extremely under the radar in what is now a loaded Eastern Conference.

One of the biggest and most athletic teams in the league, the thing working in the Raptors' favour may also be the point working against them – they brought back almost the exact same team.

Focal points Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam are still only 28 years old, while O.G. Anunoby profiles as a potentially elite wing at 25-years-old, and 21-year-old second-year point forward Scottie Barnes is the reigning Rookie of the Year.

They were the five seed last year despite all of their starters missing significant time, and with their championship experience and natural improvement, they will be in the mix by default.

Out West, it's hard to go past the New Orleans Pelicans, who will have one of the best starting fives in the NBA.

With C.J. McCollum, Brandon Ingram and surprise packet Herb Jones on the perimeter, along with Jonas Valanciunas and the returning Zion Williamson inside, that group will be a tough out if Williamson can remain healthy.

 

Who will win Rookie of the Year?

The clear favourite to take home the honour as the best first-year player is the Orlando Magic's Paolo Banchero, who was selected first overall in June's NBA Draft.

Banchero – who at six-foot-10 and 250lbs is the same size as prime DeMarcus Cousins despite playing on the perimeter – has essentially been tasked with being the saviour of the franchise, and will have significant playmaking and scoring responsibilities from day one.

He could realistically average somewhere in the range of 20 points, five rebounds and five assists per game if the franchise truly decides to put the ball in his hands and let him run the show, and he is the only player in the class that can be said about.

His biggest competition – literally – was the Oklahoma City Thunder seven-footer Chet Holmgren, who was taken second overall, but will miss the entire season after suffering a fracture in his foot in the preseason.

Third pick Jabari Smith Jr will likely be more of an off-ball player in year one, limiting his ability to rack up massive counting stats, and fifth pick Jaden Ivey will be sharing the floor with last year's top overall selection Cade Cunningham with the Detroit Pistons, where Cunningham is unquestionably the star.

Keegan Murray, the fourth overall pick by the Sacramento Kings, profiles as one of the better all-around scorers in the draft and will have the opportunity to make his mark, and Shaedon Sharpe showed some intriguing flashes in the preseason after not playing a single game of competitive basketball since graduating from high school, still earning the seventh overall pick by the Portland Trail Blazers.

 

Quick hitters:

Pelicans wing Herb Jones was never going to receive the credit he deserved last year as a 23-year-old second-round draft pick, but the rookie was quietly one of the best defensive players in the league last season.

As a rookie, he was guarding the best opposing perimeter player every night for the Pelicans, suiting up for 78 of the 82 regular season games and finishing top-10 in the league in deflections per game (3.1).

He is one of the only wings in the NBA who is tasked with carrying his side defensively, and health permitting, he will be honoured on the NBA All-Defensive teams this season.

– For those who do not play fantasy basketball, it must be a shock to hear Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton has emerged as a first-round pick, but the unbelievably efficient 22-year-old is in position to have an explosive breakout season.

After being traded to the Pacers last season, Haliburton averaged 17.5 points, 9.6 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists while shooting 50 per cent from the field, 41 per cent from three and 85 per cent from the free throw line, putting him in the top echelon of efficient guard scorers and playmakers.

With established veterans Buddy Hield and Myles Turner both reportedly on the trading block as the Pacers enter themselves into the Victor Wembanyama sweepstake, their departure would only amplify the massive season coming from the former Sacramento draft pick.

– The Cleveland Cavaliers will have their sights set on the playoffs this season after their aggressive trade for former Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell – but he may not even be the best guard on the Cavs roster.

Last season was a coming out party for point guard Darius Garland, who appears to be next up in the archetype of deep-shooting, slick-passing, small initiators. 

He shot a career-best 46 per cent from the field this past season while attempting a career-high 6.7 three-pointers per game, and he was also one of the best passers in the league, averaging 8.6 assists and forming spectacular chemistry with fellow All-Star and alley-oop partner Jarrett Allen.

Mitchell will bring a level of perimeter scoring and playoff pedigree to the Cavaliers that is desperately needed to lower the demands on Garland late in games, but it will be Garland running this team for the first 46 minutes.

Orlando Magic guard Markelle Fultz suffered a broken left big toe during a preseason workout and the team is uncertain when he'll be able to return.

The Magic revealed the injury on Sunday and said he has been placed in a walking boot and surgery will not be required.

A timeline for a return will be determined with "how he responds to rehabilitation and treatment," the team announced.

The Magic open training camp on Tuesday and play their first regular-season game October 19 against the Detroit Pistons.

The first overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers, Fultz's career has been marred by a series of injuries.

In his five professional seasons, Fultz has appeared in more than 20 games only once, playing in a total of 26 games the past two seasons due to a torn ACL.

In 18 games for Orlando in 2021-22, Fultz averaged 10.8 points on 47.4% shooting and 5.5 assists.

The oft-injured 24-year-old is entering the second season of a three-year, $50million contract extension that he signed in December 2020.

Jabari Smith Jr had his best Las Vegas Summer League performance on Monday, helping the Houston Rockets defeat the San Antonio Spurs 97-84.

After a pair of inefficient showings – going four-of-10 for his 10 points in the opener against the Orlando Magic and five-of-19 for 12 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder – Smith found his range against the Spurs.

He finished with 19 points, nine rebounds, two steals and one block as he displayed impressive defensive versatility, and he shot six-of-12 from the field, three-of-five from long range and four-of-five at the free throw line.

Smith, at six-foot-10 with a seven-foot-one wingspan, showed he can guard at least three positions, with only enormous centres and small, shifty point guards figuring to pose any threat to the smooth-moving wing.

He combined well at both ends with fellow first-round pick Tari Eason (17th selection) who shined with 22 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals, hitting nine-of-16 from the field and two of his three attempts from range.

Spurs first-round picks Malaki Branham (20th selection) and Blake Wesley (25th selection) also both showed strong two-way games.

Branham scored a team-high 20 points on eight-of-18 shooting, and while Wesley was much less accurate (three-of-20 from the field for 14 points), he got to the free throw line (eight-of-nine), and collected team-highs in assists (four) and steals (three).

Immediately following that game was Chet Holmgren and the Oklahoma City Thunder as they beat the Orlando Magic 84-81 hours after it was announced the Magic's top pick Paolo Banchero would not participate in any more Summer League action.

While the Magic believe they have seen all they needed from Banchero, the Thunder are using Summer League to build chemistry between their young core, with second-year point guard Josh Giddey also suiting up again.

Holmgren led his team in points with 16 on seven-of-10 shooting, and rebounds with 10, while blocking two shots and dishing two assists.

Giddey's goal of becoming a more efficient scorer is still a work-in-progress, finishing three-of-11 from the field for his 12 points, but his all-round game continues to blossom as he posted eight assists and seven rebounds.

In another notable stat-line, the seven-foot-five Tacko Fall came off the bench for the Utah Jazz against the Dallas Mavericks and collected an outrageous 15 rebounds in 17 minutes, with 13 of his rebounds coming on the offensive end. He also scored 12 points and blocked three shots.

The top pick from this year's NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic's Paolo Banchero, will not play in the remainder of the Las Vegas Summer League as head coach Jamahl Mosley feels he has seen enough.

Banchero, 19, debuted against the Houston Rockets last week and scored 17 points with six assists in the win, functioning as a six-foot-10 lead ball-handler and his team's de facto point guard.

He followed it up with 23 points, six rebounds, six assists, four steals and two blocks in an overtime victory against the Sacramento Kings.

Banchero was scheduled for a highly anticipated matchup with number two pick Chet Holmgren and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night, but the organisation decided to pull the plug on his Summer League campaign and wrap him in cotton wool.

Speaking to the media about the decision, Mosley said he wants to use the rest of Summer League to evaluate the more fringe talent vying for a roster spot.

"I want to give these other guys an opportunity to play, to kind of be able to show what they're capable of doing," he said.

"That's the point of summer league, you know, give them a chance... an opportunity for these other guys to see what they're capable of doing. We've seen what Paolo was capable of doing.

"His understanding of what he needs to do in certain situations, the concepts that we're preaching offensively and defensively, he's grasping on to those.

"Watching film together, he's observing those things. He explains to me the things that he sees on the floor. 

"It's only two games, but you're watching those film sessions and you realise how he's registering all of it. So that's how you can make the judgement that it's time let these other guys get those moments.''

The Magic are also expected to withdraw R.J. Hampton and Admiral Schofield from the remainder of summer league, indicating they are locked into roster spots.

Orlando Magic fans were treated to a delightful Summer League debut from number one overall pick Paolo Banchero in a 91-77 win against the Houston Rockets and third pick Jabari Smith Jr.

Smith was the heavy favourite to be taken by the Magic with the first pick from the day they won the NBA Draft Lottery, before a draft-day shocker saw them pivot to Banchero, allowing Smith to fall to the Rockets at three.

Banchero was terrific, and was the dominant force in the contest, operating as a six-foot-10 lead ball-handler. 

He finished with 17 points on five-of-12 shooting, hitting two-of-three from long range and all five of his free throws, while also adding a team-high six assists and posting a game-high plus/minus of plus 20 in 26 minutes.

Fellow draftee Caleb Houstan, who was selected by the Magic with the 32nd pick, was the Magic's top-scorer with 20 on seven-of-12 from the field, shooting an impressive five-of-nine from three-point range, while also grabbing six rebounds.

For the Rockets, Smith's stats were less impressive, finishing with 10 points on four-of-10 shooting, although he was not put in a position to succeed.

While Banchero is an on-ball operator, meaning he can initiate his own offense off the dribble, Smith was used as an off-ball threat, relying on the Rockets guards to find him in favourable positions, which they did not.

Smith's tremendous size at six-foot-10, combined with his picture-perfect jump shot form and his defensive upside to guard at least three positions mean there is no reason for panic in Houston after a slow start to his first Summer League.

Second-year guard Josh Christopher top-scored for the Rockets with 22 points on seven-of-18 shooting, 17th overall pick from this year's draft Tari Eason showed what he can do with 14 points and 13 rebounds, and Houston's third first-rounder (29th overall) TyTy Washington flashed glimpses of a skillset that could lead him to becoming the floor general his team is lacking, coming off the bench for seven points, four rebounds and three assists.

Paolo Banchero feels he is more than ready to meet the challenge of the NBA and the expectations that come with being the number one overall pick.  

In his only season at Duke, the 6-foot-10 Banchero averaged a team-best 17.2 points per game and grabbed 7.8 rebounds, while handing out 3.2 assists. He also didn’t shrink in big moments, scoring at least 16 points in all five of the Blue Devils’ NCAA Tournament games this year. 

Banchero was something of a surprise as the top selection in Thursday’s NBA Draft, with many having Auburn’s Jabari Smith pegged as the Orlando Magic’s top choice. He said he didn’t even know he would go first overall until about 30 seconds before NBA commissioner Adam Silver took the stage to announce his name.  

"It all happened pretty fast," he said. "I didn’t even have time to really think about it or anything. It just kind of happened. I can’t believe it, but I’m ready."

Banchero arrived in Orlando on Friday and will next begin a whirlwind of activity before starting workouts next week for the Magic’s July 7 opener at NBA Summer League.  

"There's going to be high expectations for myself that I'm going to hold myself to and that everyone is going to hold myself to," Banchero said. "But I feel like it's nothing I'm not used to.

"It was the same thing for me heading into college, throughout high school, a lot of expectations. It's been like that my whole life." 

The Magic did work out Smith, and listened to teams that called about obtaining the first pick in a trade, but Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley said in the end, the team felt that Banchero was the best player at the college level this past season and would be the best fit. 

"There's things that you're grabbing from each [top player in the draft] that you're like, 'Oh, man, wow, that can be great for us','' he said.

"But then it ultimately comes down to, 'How does that fit for us? How do we jell with them in the locker room? How are they treating people when they're walking in?' – because all those pieces play a factor, and I think we've done an incredible job with those details." 

The Magic are a combined 43-111 in the past two seasons, have made the playoffs just twice in the last 10 years and haven’t won a round in the postseason since 2009-10.  

Jabari Smith admitted there is a chip on his shoulder after being overlooked by the Orlando Magic for the number one pick of the 2022 NBA Draft, but vowed to show the Houston Rockets that the Magic's loss is their gain.

Orlando instead picked Paolo Banchero, despite Smith being heavily tipped to have his name called.

Chet Holmgren was chosen second as expected by Oklahoma City Thunder, allowing the Rockets the chance to pick up Smith at three.

Speaking to reporters after Thursday's draft, the 19-year-old said: "[It] Definitely added a chip, but God makes no mistakes, so I'm happy to be here. 

"I'm happy to be where I'm wanted. I'm happy to get to Houston and just show them. Give them what they picked. Just happy to be here."

Smith was a disruptive defender for Aubern, and averaged 16.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists while shooting 42.9 per cent from the floor and 42 per cent from the three-point line in 2021-22.

The forward was named National Freshman of the Year by both the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.

He will link up with other promising youngsters at Toyota Center, including Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun, both claimed in last year's draft.

"Most thing I'm looking forward to is just growing with them over these next few years," Smith added.

"We're all young, all new to the NBA lifestyle, so just learning from them. They're older than me, so just getting in there and ultimately building that relationship with them, so it can transfer to the court."

The Rockets had a league-worst record of 20-62 in the 2021-22 season, but Smith is aiming high, believing already that his new team can reach the postseason.

"I want to make the playoffs," Smith told ESPN. "I want to win games. That is how I was raised. That is just who I am. I want to come in and win games.

"I know if I come in every day trying to win, everything else will take care of itself. I am looking forward to a big year."

To echo Kevin Durant's thoughts during Thursday's 2022 NBA Draft, it is a wing's league as size, length and shooting proved desirable for front offices, with the Orlando Magic taking Paolo Banchero first. 

The NBA's stylistic pivot towards skill and versatility since the introduction of the defensive three-second rule has necessitated the recruitment of more skilled and flexible players on both ends.

Banchero serves as an apt first selection in this respect - a 6-foot-9 forward with the ability to create his own shot and make decisions with the ball in his hands, as well the versatility to switch on the defensive end.

From the likes of Mario Hezonja to Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac, the Magic have had a predisposition towards rangy forwards who struggle to stretch the floor in recent years, though. Whether Banchero can improve on his outside shooting could again prove definitive in their rebuild.

The Duke freshman averaged 17.2 points per game but connected on 33.8 per cent of shots from three-point range, with their elimination in the Final Four characterised by defenders sagging off him.

A slight improvement at NBA level would be needed in this respect, to force close-outs and help maximise his ability to get to the basket.

Size and shooting are the primary characteristics for others in the lottery however, with Chet Holmgren and Jabari Smith Jr. the other standouts in this year's draft class.

The 7-foot-1 Holmgren has reportedly set a goal of achieving 50/40/90 shooting splits in the NBA, which previously would have been unheard for someone his size.

Meanwhile, the 6-foot-10 Smith presents a similar spacing threat for his size, with ability to quickly get shots up off the catch or when putting the ball on the floor.

Eight of the top ten picks were within the 6-foot-5 to 6-foot-10 range, before even considering the added dynamics of wingspan on the defensive end.

Shooting took over as the most sought-after skill in the late stages of the first round and early parts of the second, with the Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat respectively going for Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Nikola Jovic.

TyTy Washington is yet another example of the value placed in shooting and skill for the Houston Rockets, seemingly seeking their own answer to the Philadelphia 76ers' Tyrese Maxey.

 

2022 NBA Draft first-round picks

1. Orlando Magic - Paolo Banchero (Duke)
2. Oklahoma City Thunder - Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga)
3. Houston Rockets - Jabari Smith (Auburn)
4. Sacramento Kings - Keegan Murray (Iowa)
5. Detroit Pistons - Jaden Ivey (Purdue)
6. Indiana Pacers - Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona)
7. Portland Trail Blazers - Shaedon Sharpe (Kentucky)
8. New Orleans Pelicans - Dyson Daniels (G League Ignite)
9. San Antonio Spurs - Jeremy Sochan (Baylor)
10. Washington Wizards - Johnny Davis (Wisconsin)
11. Oklahoma City Thunder - Ousmane Dieng (New Zealand)
12. Oklahoma City Thunder - Jalen Williams (Santa Clara)
13. Detroit Pistons - Jalen Duren (Memphis)
14. Cleveland Cavaliers - Ochai Agbaji (Kansas)
15. Charlotte Hornets - Mark Williams (Duke)
16. Atlanta Hawks - AJ Griffin (Duke)
17. Houston Rockets - Tari Eason (LSU)
18. Chicago Bulls - Dalen Terry (Arizona)
19. Memphis Grizzlies - Jake LaRavia (Wake Forest)
20. San Antonio Spurs - Malaki Branham (Ohio State)
21. Denver Nuggets - Christian Braun (Kansas)
22. Minnesota Timberwolves - Walker Kessler (Auburn)
23. Memphis Grizzlies - David Roddy (Colorado State)
24. Milwaukee Bucks - MarJon Beauchamp (G League Ignite)
25. San Antonio Spurs - Blake Wesley (Notre Dame)
26. Dallas Mavericks - Wendell Moore Jr. (Duke)
27. Miami Heat - Nikola Jovic (Serbia)
28. Golden State Warriors - Patrick Baldwin Jr. (Milwaukee)
29. Houston Rockets - TyTy Washington Jr. (Kentucky)
30. Denver Nuggets - Peyton Watson (UCLA)

After the Orlando Magic won the NBA draft lottery, the franchise’s front office insisted they would keep their options open and hold their cards close to the chest.

The Magic succeeded, even surprising the player they picked first overall in Thursday’s draft.

Duke forward Paolo Banchero said he found out he would be the top selection just seconds before NBA Commissioner Adam Silver took the stage to announce the pick.

“The information that I was being told was just that it was up in the air, Orlando wasn’t really sure yet and to just be ready for whatever,” Banchero said.

“I didn’t find out I was actually getting picked until about 20 seconds before the commissioner got on the stage. I didn’t really even have time to think about it or anything. It just kind of happened.”

While Banchero was part of a consensus top tier with Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Auburn’s Jabari Smith, Smith was considered the favourite to go first.

Magic president Jeff Weltman had hinted to the media that the team’s moves could be a surprise, but many dismissed those comments as gamesmanship.

“I think that it's important that people know that information is managed discreetly with us from every corner of this business, from agents to other teams to the media,” Weltman said. “And obviously, when you're playing poker, you don't put your cards on the table, right?”

Now that the pick has been made, however, all that matters is that Banchero produces on the court.

“We feel he was the best player in college basketball, and we feel that he will continue to grow every year for many years to come,” Weltman said.

Widely considered the most polished offensive player in the draft, Banchero showed the ability to create his own shot and to make plays for others during his freshman season at Duke, which ended in the Final Four.

The versatile 6-foot-10 forward believes he fits perfectly in Orlando.

“I feel like I will fit in great. The Magic have a lot of talent. They’re very deep,” Banchero said. “They also have a lot of dynamic forwards like myself, like Wendell [Carter], Franz Wagner.

“Adding myself, I feel like that’s going to give teams a lot of problems. That’s three 6-9, 6-10, 6-11 guys that can all dribble, pass and shoot, and have a high IQ.”

Banchero holds an Italian passport and said earlier this week that he plans on playing internationally for the Italy over the United States. However, he downplayed the significance of being the first player linked to Italy to be taken first overall since Andrea Bargnani in 2006.

“I don’t know if that’d be fair to Bargnani,” Banchero said. “Bargnani’s born and raised in Italy; I’m born and raised in Seattle, Washington, so I don’t want to take anything away from him.

After the Orlando Magic won the NBA draft lottery, the franchise’s front office insisted they would keep their options open and hold their cards close to the chest.

The Magic succeeded, even surprising the player they picked first overall in Thursday’s draft.

Duke forward Paolo Banchero said he found out he would be the top selection just seconds before NBA Commissioner Adam Silver took the stage to announce the pick.

“The information that I was being told was just that it was up in the air, Orlando wasn’t really sure yet and to just be ready for whatever,” Banchero said.

“I didn’t find out I was actually getting picked until about 20 seconds before the commissioner got on the stage. I didn’t really even have time to think about it or anything. It just kind of happened.”

While Banchero was part of a consensus top tier with Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Auburn’s Jabari Smith, Smith was considered the favourite to go first.

Magic president Jeff Weltman had hinted to the media that the team’s moves could be a surprise, but many dismissed those comments as gamesmanship.

“I think that it's important that people know that information is managed discreetly with us from every corner of this business, from agents to other teams to the media,” Weltman said. “And obviously, when you're playing poker, you don't put your cards on the table, right?”

Now that the pick has been made, however, all that matters is that Banchero produces on the court.

“We feel he was the best player in college basketball, and we feel that he will continue to grow every year for many years to come,” Weltman said.

Widely considered the most polished offensive player in the draft, Banchero showed the ability to create his own shot and to make plays for others during his freshman season at Duke, which ended in the Final Four.

The versatile 6-foot-10 forward believes he fits perfectly in Orlando.

“I feel like I will fit in great. The Magic have a lot of talent. They’re very deep,” Banchero said. “They also have a lot of dynamic forwards like myself, like Wendell [Carter], Franz Wagner.

“Adding myself, I feel like that’s going to give teams a lot of problems. That’s three 6-9, 6-10, 6-11 guys that can all dribble, pass and shoot, and have a high IQ.”

Banchero holds an Italian passport and said earlier this week that he plans on playing internationally for the Italy over the United States. However, he downplayed the significance of being the first player linked to Italy to be taken first overall since Andrea Bargnani in 2006.

“I don’t know if that’d be fair to Bargnani,” Banchero said. “Bargnani’s born and raised in Italy; I’m born and raised in Seattle, Washington, so I don’t want to take anything away from him.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.