A trading card of NBA star LeBron James has sold at auction with collectibles marketplace Goldin for $2.4million, including buyer's premium.

The unique 2020-21 Panini Flawless Triple Logoman of James includes embedded segments of the 37-year-old's game-worn jerseys from his time at the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers.

It had been anticipated that it could break the all-time record for a sports trading card, which is a Honus Wagner baseball card that was sold for $6.6m in 2021.

Panini's 2020-21 Flawless release included five Triple Logoman cards, made up of patches from three-star players, though James' was the only card that features three patches from one player.

The four other cards include patches from Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry; Draymond Green, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson; Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball and Tyrese Haliburton, and Jayson Tatum, Luka Doncic and Zion Williamson.

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.  

The Who famously sang "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss" – and the Charlotte Hornets are taking that to heart. 

In one of the more surprising coaching hirings in recent memory, the Hornets are bringing back Steve Clifford for a second stint as head coach of the team.  

Clifford was Charlotte’s bench boss for five seasons and guided the team to two playoff appearances before he was fired following the 2017-18 season, and then hired a few weeks later by the Orlando Magic. He compiled a 196-214 record with the Hornets and is 292-345 in eight seasons as an NBA coach.

His best season in Charlotte came in 2015-16 when the Hornets went 48-34 and lost in seven games to the Miami Heat in the first round the playoffs. 

The Hornets initially offered the job to Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson, but he later told the team he was backing out due to family reasons. 

"I think [Atkinsons] would have been a good pick, but if he’s not comfortable here I would rather find out now then a year from now," Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak said Thursday night at the NBA Draft.  

This time, Clifford inherits a team that is more talented than any of his previous Charlotte squads with All-Star point guard LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward and Miles Bridges.  

The Hornets finished last season with the league’s eighth-ranked offense, but were weak defensively, and allowed 132 points in a 29-point loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the play-in elimination game last season. Outgoing head coach James Borrego was also criticised for failing to play young, emerging talent, instead opting to give minutes to established veterans who lacked upside.

Defense has been the organisation’s priority in seeking a new leader, and Clifford has long been considered one of the NBA’s top defensive coaches. The Hornets finished sixth, 10th, ninth, 17th and 17th in defensive rating during his five seasons. They were 22nd this past season under Borrego, who was fired in April.  

 

Chet Holmgren revealed he had already been in contact with Josh Giddey before his selection by the Oklahoma City Thunder in Thursday's 2022 NBA Draft.

The 19-year-old Australian represents a significant part of the Thunder's future plans, averaging 12.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.4 assists in his rookie season, with Holmgren disclosing discussions between the two on how and where they could both fit.

While the 20-year-old Holmgren insisted he is eager to meet all of his future team-mates upon arriving in Oklahoma City, Giddey is a particular case after already outlining their potential future.

"I'm looking forward to meeting all of them and getting to work with all of them," Holmgren said on ESPN's draft broadcast. "But I've been speaking to Josh a little bit throughout this process, so I'm definitely looking forward to finally meeting him.

"[The discussion] hasn't been so much advice yet, as much as it has been talking about the Thunder and what they are, what he sees in me and how we can play together."

Even after Paolo Banchero was taken first by the Orlando Magic, there was little surprise Thunder general manager Sam Presti would then go with Holmgren at number two.

As a big who can stretch the floor, the seven-foot-one Holmgren exhibited unique shooting touch for his size in his freshman year at Gonzaga, potentially creating more space for someone like Giddey to make plays.

Despite leading the Bulldogs to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament and the likely scenario of a lottery pick on Thursday, Holmgren still found it all surreal upon his selection.

"Obviously, Paolo's a hell of a player, he said. "I'm proud of him, and I'm happy for him, but when I heard my name, it was nothing but excitement, and I'm ready to get to work.

"I can't even describe it. I've got zero words for the 1,000 emotions that I'm having right now, but they're all very good."

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."

The Los Angeles Lakers did not have a first-round pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, but they will have a pair of high-profile rookies on their Summer League roster. 

Ex-LSU forward Shareef O'Neal and former Vanderbilt guard Scotty Pippen Jr have agreed to free-agent contracts with the team as they try to follow their famous fathers into the NBA.

O'Neal is the son of Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal, who played eight seasons with the Lakers from 1996 to 2004 and helped the franchise to three consecutive NBA championships from 2000 to 2002. 

Pippen's father, Scottie, was a seven-time All-Star and a major part of the Chicago Bulls dynasty in the 1990s that won six NBA titles in an eight-year span from 1991 to 1998.

According to The Athletic, O'Neal has received an invitation to play on the Lakers' Summer League team in Las Vegas, while Pippen Jr has agreed to a two-way contract – as has Syracuse's Cole Swider.

Both players confirmed the signings on their Twitter accounts.

"THANK YOU FOR THIS OPPORTUNITY @Lakers!," O'Neal wrote while posting a short video of him as a child in a Lakers jersey.

"Dreams come true. Let's get to work #lakeshow," Pippen Jr tweeted.

The six-foot-10 O'Neal began his collegiate career at UCLA before transferring to LSU, where his father starred prior to being taken by the Orlando Magic with the number one overall pick of the 1992 draft. Foot injuries limited the younger O'Neal to only 37 games over three college seasons.

Pippen Jr, a six-foot-three guard who attended high school in the Los Angeles area, went undrafted despite a standout three-year career at Vanderbilt in which he scored 1,577 points in three seasons.

The 21-year-old averaged over 20 points per game in each of his final two seasons and was a two-time first team All-Southeastern Conference selection.

It always feels somewhat presumptuous to talk about an NBA Draft in the immediate aftermath and judge who did well and who did not. Surely, we have to wait to see how things play out and whether players with immense potential are able to fulfil it?

However, what you can do is judge those who, on paper at least, seem to have struck gold and those who appeared to stumble through their Thursday evening and may well have come away disappointed with their haul.

The night started off delightfully chaotically as the Orlando Magic went against the widely predicted number one pick of Jabari Smith Jr and instead brought in Paolo Banchero.

Now the dust has settled after an interesting night, Stats Perform has taken a look at the potential winners and losers of the draft.

Winners

Houston Rockets

The Rockets could probably not believe their luck when the Magic decided to opt for Banchero. The Italian-American would have still been a fine first-round pick, but given the choice it seems like Houston would rather have taken Smith Jr, and they had the chance to do just that.

The youngster was a disruptive defender for Aubern, and clearly has sound fundamentals, a result no doubt of growing up in and around basketball, with his father Jabari Smith Sr a former NBA player himself.

Smith Jr averaged 16.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists while shooting 42.9 per cent from the floor and 42 per cent from the three-point line in 2021-22, and should dovetail nicely with Alperen Sengun, a first-round pick from last year.

The Rockets also took Tari Eason, a breakout star at LSU, and TyTy Washington, a high-quality and versatile option who was expected to be picked up earlier in the night.

Detroit Pistons

A very similar moment of fortune fell for the Pistons as their top choice Jaden Ivey was surprisingly still available when it came to their number five pick, with the Sacramento Kings instead taking Keegan Murray.

In two seasons at Purdue, Ivey showed himself to be a top-five prospect with a well-rounded game, though questions persist about the consistency of his shooting. He averaged 17.3 points per game last season, though, with a field goal percentage of 46.0.

Detroit were also involved in a three-way trade with the Charlotte Hornets and the New York Knicks. This ended with them procuring Jalen Duren and Kemba Walker in exchange for their 2025 first-round pick, having acquired it as part of the Jerami Grant trade to the Portland Trail Blazers earlier in the week.

Walker is expected to be bought out of his contract and become a free agent, so it looks like sound dealing to essentially trade a first-round pick to get Duren through the door, who averaged 12.0 points and 8.1 rebounds per game for the Memphis Tigers last season.

San Antonio Spurs

Nothing outrageous from the Spurs, but on the face of it, they ended the night with three solid picks.

Jeremy Sochan became the first British player to be picked in NBA Draft in over 10 years. As a freshman at Baylor, Sochan averaged 9.2 points and 6.4 rebounds in 25.1 minutes per game, making 47.4 per cent of his field goal attempts.

As that average suggests, one aspect to his game that could be improved is his shooting, but San Antonio's Chip Engelland is one of the best shooting coaches in the game and could well help the young man who was raised in Milton Keynes, England.

Malaki Branham looks a smart choice as the number 20 pick from Ohio State, with his one college season seeing him average 13.7 points on 49.8 per cent shooting, while Blake Wesley from Notre Dame also has the potential to also be a valuable arrival.

Losers

New York Knicks

After a poor season that felt like it would at least set them up for a productive draft, the Knicks appeared to overthink things at the draft, or underthink them depending on your viewpoint.

They decided to trade their number 11 pick for three future first-round picks, though none that really hold any value.

They managed to get Walker's contract out the door to the Pistons to free up some salary space, seemingly putting all their eggs in the Jalen Brunson basket, or potentially even Kyrie Irving. However, they only saved $9.2m from Walker's contract, which is not a lot considering they gave up one of their first-round picks. 

Who knows if it will pay off, but Knicks fans were almost certainly expecting more.

Washington Wizards

There was nothing particularly wrong with the picks from the Wizards, but as harsh as it may sound, they are in danger of becoming the NBA's dullest team.

A win percentage of 0.427 was down from 0.472 in 2020-21, and it felt like they might need to take a bit of a risk in the draft with their number 10 pick.

Johnny Davis is a fine player, averaging 19.7 points per game for the Wisconsin Badgers last year, the 25th highest in the college game, but someone like Duren could have been a roll of the dice for something to boost that win percentage sometime soon.

Who knows? It could be a sound strategy, but to be frank, it is a strategy that has not been working for the last few years in Washington.

Sacramento Kings

There is some sympathy with the situation the Kings were put in as the extremely obvious pick at four was Ivey, who had expressly said he did not want to go to Sacramento, so they went with Murray instead.

Murray is a fine prospect himself, and arguably a better fit than Ivey for the Kings, but the latter felt like an opportunity to at the very least have significant trade leverage.

Murray did average the fourth-highest points per game average last year with 23.5 for Iowa, while also adding 8.7 rebounds per game, so comes in as a promising addition.

Ivey will inevitably feel like the one who got away if he does what many think he will at Detroit, though, which could bring back memories of when Sacramento failed to take on Luka Doncic in 2018.

The Philadelphia 76ers have traded Danny Green and their number 23 pick in Thursday's NBA Draft to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for De'Anthony Melton.

It was a trade the Sixers had been expected to offer around various teams, and they may well be pleased with the outcome as Melton brings a strong three-point game in particular, averaging 41.2 per cent in 2020-21, and 37.4 per cent in the campaign just gone.

The 24-year-old also averaged 10.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game last season, and is due to make $8.25million next year, and $8m in 2023-24.

The experienced Green heads to Memphis after two years in Philadelphia. The shooting guard has a career average of 8.7 points per game, but managed only 5.9 per game last season from 62 appearances, though only 28 of those were starts, and he suffered tears to his ACL and LCL in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals against the Miami Heat.

The number 23 pick obtained by the Grizzlies was used to obtain Colorado State's David Roddy, who was Mountain West Player of the Year in 2022.

Roddy averaged 19.2 points last season, 37th of college players, while also recording 7.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.

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.

To open up salary cap room, the New York Knicks guard Kemba Walker has been traded to the Detroit Pistons, as part of a three-team deal with the Charlotte Hornets.

The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Walker will move to Detroit along with Jalen Duren, who was taken with the 13th pick by the Hornets in Thursday's NBA Draft.

Meanwhile, the Pistons are sending the Hornets the 2025 first-round pick, after acquiring it as part of the Jerami Grant trade to the Portland Trail Blazers earlier in the week.

Amid struggles with knee injury, Walker averaged 11.6 points, 3.5 assists and three rebounds in 37 games for the Knicks last season.

Although ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Walker is expected to discuss a buyout that will allow him to become a free agent, Pistons general manager Troy Weaver has taken two of his reported top targets in Duren and Jaden Ivey in the draft, at the sole cost of a future first-round pick.

The Orlando Magic sprung a surprise on Thursday, taking Paolo Banchero with the top pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. 

The Oklahoma City Thunder followed up by selecting Chet Holmgren second overall and although many projected him to be the top pick coming into Thursday, the Houston Rockets took Jabari Smith third. 

Reflecting the evolving nature of the NBA, the Magic looked to the wing this time in Banchero, selecting front-court prospects with their previous three top selections in franchise history, in the form of Shaquille O'Neal, Chris Webber and Dwight Howard. 

"I don't even know what to say. I really can't believe what just happened," Banchero said on ESPN's draft broadcast. "I never would have thought that this would happen. I wanted to be in the NBA, but I didn't know I would be here. This is unbelievable.

Banchero is the fifth top selection to come from Duke University, following Art Heyman, Elton Brand, Kyrie Irving and Zion Williamson, also making for the 13th consecutive freshman to be taken at first.

The 19-year-old averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists as he led the Blue Devils to the Final Four, earning first-team All-ACC selection and the ACC Rookie of the Year. 

As a big who can stretch the floor, the 7-foot-1 Holmgren exhibited unique shooting ability for his size in his freshman year at Gonzaga University, potentially creating more space for the likes of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey to make plays. 

Simiarly gifted for his size, the 6-foot-10 Smith is arguably the most NBA-ready of the three coming out of Auburn University, with his ability to score off the catch and off the dribble, along with a versatile defensive skill-set. 

The Brooklyn Nets could be set to lose their two biggest stars with Kyrie Irving eyeing up other teams and Kevin Durant monitoring the situation, according to multiple reports. 

By June 29, Irving must decide whether to take up his $36.5million player option for the 2022-23 season or opt out and test free agency or sign a new deal with the Nets. 

Talks are understood to be at an impasse and ESPN reported on Thursday that if an agreement cannot be reached, the seven-time All-Star would pursue a sign-and-trade. 

It was claimed the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks, Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks and Philadelphia 76ers were on Irving's list of favoured destinations. 

According to The Athletic, the uncertainty surrounding the Nets has led to Durant considering his future with the franchise. 

Durant signed an extension through the 2025-26 season last year, but would reportedly seek a trade if Irving departed. 

Irving is said to have engaged in conversations with former Cleveland Cavaliers team-mate LeBron James about a reunion at the Lakers. The pair led the Cavaliers to the NBA championship in 2016, but parted ways the following season. 

Across the three seasons they have both been in Brooklyn, Irving and Durant have only played a total of 58 games together. 

Durant sat out the entire 2019-20 season due to an Achilles injury, while he missed significant time in each of the following two campaigns through hamstring and knee problems respectively. 

Irving, meanwhile, was a bit-part player for much of 2021-22 after he refused to comply with the New York City COVID-19 vaccine mandate. 

With the top three picks of the NBA Draft appearing to be Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero – likely in that order – the real fun begins with the Sacramento Kings at pick four.

The heavy favourite to be selected fourth overall is Purdue's Jaden Ivey, who projects as the top guard prospect in this year's class.

At 6ft 4in with tremendous athleticism, Ivey is a point guard that plays in a similar fashion to John Wall, although he is not the natural facilitator Wall is, leaning on his scoring and driving ability for his primary value.

Ivey was considered part of the top tier through early portions of the college basketball season until the three bigs elevated themselves further into their own conversation, but Ivey has been gaining so much steam throughout the pre-draft process that teams including the New York Knicks have reportedly been enquiring about trading up to the Kings' pick to select him.

 

Keegan Murray

After Ivey, the draft really opens up, although Iowa wing Keegan Murray will likely not fall outside of the top seven.

Murray is a 6ft 8in, highly skilled scorer who will be able to fill both forward spots in the NBA, and figures to be a player who will be able to create his own baskets in isolation situations.

He averaged 23.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game during his sophomore season, and shot a terrific 55 per cent from the field and 39.8 per cent from three-point range on 4.7 attempts per game.

Defense is the question with Murray, but he has the size and athleticism to contribute on that end, while the team that drafts him will hope he can fill a similar role to Milwaukee Bucks All-Star Khris Middleton as a low-maintenance scorer who does not need to be the centrepiece of every play to stack up points, but can also take over if needed.

 

Shaedon Sharpe

The mystery man of this year's class is 6ft 5in wing Shaedon Sharpe, who did not play a single game this past season at the college level.

Sharpe was viewed as a potential top-five pick in next year's draft, but opted to expedite his process to turn professional as soon as possible, and he will be rewarded with a top-10 pick barring any unforeseen red flags.

Strongly built, athletic, long-armed wings with the ability to aggressively hit pull-up three-pointers and defend multiple positions are probably the most valuable archetype in the game right now, and Sharpe fits the billing.

With a game that resembles Paul George, Sharpe arguably has a ceiling as high as anybody in the class, but a lot of future NBA wings look like Paul George when their only footage is against high school kids.

 

Bennedict Mathurin

Arizona wing Bennedict Mathurin also appears to be a lock for the top 10 after a dominant March Madness run that included a 30-point outburst in an overtime win in the Sweet 16, profiling as a high-level traditional shooting guard.

Clearly a score-first player, Mathurin – 6ft 6in with a 6ft 9in wingspan – will be able to defend opposing ones, twos and threes while his well-rounded offensive game should comfortably translate to an off-ball role at the next level.

Through his two seasons at Arizona, Mathurin shot 38 per cent from three on five attempts per game, including difficult, contested looks, while he also showed he can score at all three levels, and even dished seven assists with his 27 points in a key tournament win.

Maybe the safest pick outside of the top three, Mathurin will comfortably score in the teens as a rookie if he lands in a situation with minutes available. Think of him as a more athletic C.J. McCollum.

Dyson Daniels

Arguably the most unique guard in the class is Australian Dyson Daniels, who played with the G-League Ignite, and he also seems unlikely to fall out of the top 10.

Daniels was viewed as a decent prospect as a 6ft 5in combo guard who specialised in defense and lacked a jump shot – then he grew another three inches, cleaned up his jump shot and began assuming point guard responsibilities.

At 6ft 8in now with guard skills and elite defensive upside, Daniels is perhaps the hardest player in the class to find an NBA comparison for. He is so unselfish and pass-first that his play style resembles pure point guards like Tyus Jones or Monte Morris, but he is at least six inches taller and can realistically guard four positions.

Unlikely to ever become a true first option, Daniels is best served playing next to a primary scorer, making him an ideal fit with Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers if they decide to use pick seven instead of trade it.

 

Ousmane Dieng

Speaking of late risers in the draft process, teams seem to be deciding that someone with the tools of France's Ousmane Dieng may have no business falling outside of the top 10.

Dieng, a massive wing measuring at 6ft 10in, showed some extremely interesting flashes of skill this past season as an 18-year-old playing with the New Zealand Breakers in the NBL.

Playing for a professional team, he was not given nearly the kind of leash as college prospects to show what they can do, averaging 15 minutes and three points through his first nine games.

But once he found his footing, it was clear he was a serious prospect, showing off sharp ball-handling and the ability to attack off the bounce in an 11-game stretch where he averaged 24 minutes and 14 points per game, scoring at least 17 points in five contests and shooting 20-of-56 from long range (35 per cent).

A.J. Griffin

The son of former NBA player and current Toronto Raptors assistant coach Adrian Griffin, the only thing that can force A.J. Griffin to slide down draft boards is his injury history.

With essentially the perfect body for an NBA wing at 6ft 6in and 220 pounds with a seven-foot wingspan, Griffin is yet to turn 19 years old, and shot a blistering 44 per cent from long range on 4.4 attempts per game in his sole collegiate season.

If he can stay healthy, Griffin will be a solid starting wing at the bare minimum, with similar offensive upside to Raptors forward O.G. Anunoby and the defensive tools to guard at least three positions.

Teams will take a look at his medicals and decide if he is worth the risk, with multiple serious injuries during his high school career and more injury concerns during his one year at Duke.

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