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Orlando Magic makes Duke’s Paolo Banchero a surprise No. 1 pick

Paolo Banchero got to shake hands NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after being selected as the number one pick overall by the Orlando Magic. (John Minchillo/AP)

NEW YORK — The biggest NBA draft surprise in a decade took the Barclays Center stage in a purple, gem-studded suit and with tears in his eyes.

In an unexpected twist, the Orlando Magic drafted Duke freshman Paolo Banchero with the No. 1 pick Thursday, bypassing Auburn freshman Jabari Smith Jr., who was long viewed as the consensus favorite to be the top pick.

The 19-year-old Banchero, a Seattle native, didn’t work out with the Magic during the pre-draft process and was projected by most analysts to go third to the Houston Rockets. Instead, he joined Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber (who was traded for Anfernee Hardaway) and Dwight Howard as the fourth No. 1 pick in Magic history and became the first Duke player to go first since Zion Williamson in 2019.

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