One of the most anticipated and important nights of the NBA season started with a big surprise: while the Magic seemed determined to choose Jabari Smith in first position, the Florida franchise finally turned to Paolo Banchero . “I knew it was a possibility“, confesses the young man of 19 years. “But I didn’t know until the last moment, 20 seconds before my name was called by Adam Silver. I didn’t even have time to think.“
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While Smith was a favorite for the first pick, Banchero has long been touted as one of the promotion’s biggest talents. The Italian-born interior comes from the prestigious Duke University, where he compiled 17 points and 8 rebounds per game last season. It is typically the profile that was missing in the Magic, a franchise in reconstruction which has therefore just found the founding stone of its project. Orlando ended the last exercise with the second worst attack in the entire championship and the rookie will be able to remedy this by being supplied with balloons from his professional debut.
Chet Holmgren in Oklahoma City, Ousmane Dieng too
Despite the change of direction made by the Magic at the last minute, the Thunder remained faithful to what was anticipated: the leaders chose Chet Holmgren. A pivot of 2.13 meters capable of putting baskets from afar. An atypical and therefore obviously intriguing profile. Can he really become a mix between Rudy Gobert and Pau Gasol? The future will tell. But the team set up in Oklahoma City is enticing. Because the different pieces seem to stick together, at least on paper. Holmgren will be able to progress alongside young designers Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey. The basis for a solid future “Big 3.”
The Thunder drew more than once during this first round. The leaders even set up a transfer to get Frenchman Ousmane Dieng in eleventh position! This is perhaps the best franchise possible for the former resident of the Federal Center. The slender winger (2.08 meters) of 19 years arrives in an organization renowned for its ability to develop the talents of tomorrow. There will be competition, of course, but less pressure for results. He will also be able to find two other compatriots, Theo Maledon and Jaylen Hoard. What facilitate its adaptation and integration. By also recovering Jalen Williams in twelfth position, the Thunder definitely had a successful evening.
Two other French people drafted!
Ousmane Dieng was expected around the top-10 and it was therefore not surprising to see him start in eleventh position. A first for a European passed by the NBL, the Australian championship. His compatriot Ismaël Kamagaté chose another, more traditional route, playing for Paris Basketball last season. His performances allowed him to distinguish himself until the NBA. The tricolor hope was drafted in the second round by the Nuggets (46th choice). He will have to prove himself during the summer, especially in the Summer League, to then obtain a guaranteed contract. Hugo Besson, Dieng’s teammate in New Zealand, was called up last by the Bucks.
Sacramento, Indiana and Portland have not moved
Holders of a pick in the top-10, the Kings, the Blazers ultimately failed to find sufficiently attractive offers for their draft choice. Sacramento therefore bet on Keegan Murray in fourth position. The 21-year-old winger was announced below… but his qualities blend a priori rather well with those of De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis. Indiana and Portland drew intelligently by betting respectively on Benedict Mathurin and Shaedon Sharpe (great potential!).
As usual, there were a lot of rumors for finally few exchanges. Rudy Gobert and the Jazz did not move. Dejounte Murray is still in San Antonio. It is rather from July that the teams will really begin the hostilities. The Knicks have still sold Kemba Walker – who will be cut – to the Pistons by getting their hands on future draft picks. The maneuver allows the New York franchise to free up some space under the Cape to possibly go hunting for free players during the offseason. The Sixers parted ways with Danny Green by tying him to their twenty-third pick to bring in De’Anthony Melton from the Grizzlies.
The Pippen and O’Neal sons at the Lakers
Undrafted, Scotty Pippen Jr and Shareef O’Neal will play together at the Los Angeles Lakers this summer. These two sons of NBA legend have been selected for the California franchise’s summer team, where they will try to prove themselves.
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