Paolo Banchero joins impressive list of Orlando Magic No. 1 picks originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Paolo Banchero has some giant footsteps to follow in Orlando.
The Duke forward was selected by the Magic with the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft on Thursday. Though a team that finished with the second-worst record in the league last season may not jump out as an attractive destination, top picks have made the most of their time in Orlando.
Banchero is the fourth No. 1 pick in Magic history, and his three predecessors all played a part in getting the team to the NBA Finals.
Here’s a look back at how the Magic’s No. 1 picks fared with the team and how they compared to the rest of their draft class:
1992: Shaquille O’Neal
Top five picks from 1992 NBA Draft
1. Shaquille O’Neal, Orlando Magic
2. Alonzo Mourning, Charlotte Hornets
3. Christian Laettner, Minnesota Timberwolves
4. Jimmy Jackson, Dallas Mavericks
5. LaPhonso Ellis, Denver Nuggets
The Magic unquestionably knocked this pick out of the park.
On top of being among the greatest players in NBA history, O’Neal is one of the best No. 1 picks of all time. He made an immediate impact in Orlando, winning the 1992-93 Rookie of the Year Award and receiving an All-Star selection. In his third season, he led the NBA in points per game and powered the team to its first ever Finals appearance.
Shaq’s time in Orlando lasted just one more season. He joined the Los Angeles Lakers after the 1995-96 season and went on to win four NBA titles during his legendary career. Three of those titles came with the Lakers and the fourth came with Mourning – the only other Hall of Fame player from the 1992 draft class – and Dwyane Wade in Miami.
1993: Chris Webber
Top five picks from 1993 NBA Draft
1. Chris Webber, Orlando Magic
2. Shawn Bradley, Philadelphia 76ers
3. Penny Hardaway, Golden State Warriors
4. Jamal Mashburn, Dallas Mavericks
5. Isaiah Rider, Minnesota Timberwolves
The Magic got back-to-back No. 1 picks in 1992 and 1993. The latter top pick never played for Orlando, but the team still found a perfect player to pair with Shaq.
Minutes after drafting Webber, the Magic dealt him to the Warriors in exchange for No. 3 pick Penny Hardaway and three future first-round picks. O’Neal and Hardaway clicked from the jump and reached the 1995 Finals in their second season together. Hardaway made the All-NBA first team in 1994-95 and 1995-96, getting even higher honors than O’Neal.
Hardaway stayed in Orlando three more seasons following O’Neal’s departure, earning two All-Star bids in that time. His career was hampered by injuries and he did not make an All-Star team in his final nine NBA seasons.
Webber wound up being the only Hall of Famer from the 1993 draft class, but Hardaway’s prime contributions to the Magic cemented another successful draft move.
2004: Dwight Howard
Top five picks from 2004 NBA Draft
1. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
2. Emeka Okafor, Charlotte Bobcats
3. Ben Gordon, Chicago Bulls
4. Shaun Livingston, Los Angeles Clippers
5. Devin Harris, Washington Wizards
The Magic once again hit a home run at the top of the 2004 draft.
Howard missed just three regular season games over the first six years of his career in Orlando. His most memorable season came in 2008-09, when he won NBA Defensive Player of the Year, was named to the All-NBA and All-Defensive first teams, finished fourth in MVP voting and led the Magic to their second ever Finals appearance.
Howard’s time in Orlando came to an unceremonious end after the 2011-12 season, but his eight-year tenure was well worth it for the Magic. He is the only player from the 2004 draft class to make an All-NBA team and narrowly missed the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. The durability he showed at the beginning of his NBA career is still showing, as he, Andre Iguodala (No. 9 pick) and Trevor Ariza (No. 43 pick) are the only three players from the ‘04 class who are still in the league.
2022: Paolo Banchero
Top five picks from 2022 NBA Draft
1. Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic
2. Chet Holmgren, Oklahoma City Thunder
3. Jabari Smith Jr., Houston Rockets
4. Keegan Murray, Sacramento Kings
5. Jaden Ivey, Detroit Pistons
Banchero, Holmgren and Smith were all viewed as viable candidates to be the top pick in the 2022 draft class. All three players joined young rosters that finished well out of playoff contention in 2021-22, so it could definitely take time before anyone can reach a verdict on who will have the best career.