By Eurohoops team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Italy’s Paolo Banchero ended up being a surprise selection by the Orlando Magic with the top overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft at Barclays Center. Polish Jeremy Sochan at No. 9 by the San Antonio Spurs, French Ousmane Dieng at No. 11 by the Knicks and trader to OKC, and Serb Nikola Jovic at No. 27 by Miami were the other three choices with European connection.
However, only Jovic played basketball in Europe during the last season with Mega Basket. Dieng developed his game in the NBL with the New Zealand Breakers, Banchero played for Duke, while Sochan was a member of Baylor.
Still, both players intend to play for the national teams of Italy and Poland respectively.
Banchero is the first European player picked at no1 since fellow Italian Andrea Bargnani who was the top pick in 2006.
In the weeks leading up to the draft, Smith had been widely expected to land the top selection. But the Magic turned things upside down by taking Banchero.
“I don’t even know what to say,” Banchero said on ESPN’s draft broadcast. “I can’t believe what just happened. Honestly.”
The 6-foot-10 forward from Duke averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game across 39 games for the Blue Devils, who reached the Final Four before losing to their forever rivals in North Carolina. Banchero, who might be the most NBA-ready prospect in this draft, will now be looked to as the anchor of Orlando’s nascent rebuild, which includes German forward Franz Wagner.
In the second round, the Detroit Pistons picked Italian wing Gabriele Procida from Fortitudio Bologna at No. 36, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Senegalese center, Khalifa Diop, from Spanish club Gran Canaria at No. 39, the Clippers picked French Moussa Diabate from Michigan at No. 43, the Nuggets got French center Ismael Kamagate from Paris Basketball at No. 46, and at No. 50 Minnesota got the rights to Italian guard Matteo Spagnolo of Real Madrid. New Orleans picked Croatian Karlo Matkovic from Mega Basket at No. 52, Washington got Congolese Yannick Nzosa from Spanish club Unicaja Malaga at No. 54 and Milwaukee selected French guard Hugo Besson who played in the NBL at No. 58.
In total 12 players with a connection to Europe were drafted.