All unknowns have been cleared. In a marathon night, Yannick Nzosa was chosen by the Washington Wizards in 54th place in the NBA Draft. He did not make it to the big selection date for the American teams after a great season. There were many doubts about his chances and many ventured that he would not be chosen. However, Yannick Nzosa is closer to making the leap to the best league in the world. The 18-year-old Congolese center was selected by the fourth worst team in the Eastern Conference, but he can already say that he has achieved what others have not been able to.
Nzosa was the second youngest player of all those who appeared at the Draft ceremony that was held last night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. It is clear that the reports handled by the American franchises of this and, especially last season, have influenced the choice of Nzosa, because some players who seemed better positioned and who had had a better season have not been chosen.
The fact is that the Washington Wizards already have Nzosa’s rights for the NBA and now it will be necessary to see what decision they make about his future. At the moment, the Unicaja player has already received praise from the General Manager of the franchise, Tommy Sheppard, who has classified him as “a hidden stash” in the Spanish league, while slipping that it is possible that the player stays in the ACB.
In the Wizards franchise there are several players known to Spanish fans, such as the Betic Kristaps Porzingis, who was previously in Dallas, or Raulzinho Neto, who played for UCAM Murcia, or the Israeli Deni Avdija; that is to say that it is a franchise that bets on the player trained in Europe. Remember that Nzosa has a release clause of $750,000, so if the Wizards want to take him now, they would have to negotiate with the typesetter club. It seems clear that Nzosa’s future goes through a transfer in the ACB League, as was reported a month ago.
A night of surprises
In an unexpected decision, the Orlando Magic selected power forward Paolo Banchero (Duke University) with the number one pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, ahead of heavy favorites Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga) and Jabari Smith (Auburn), recruited next by Thunder and Rockets.
The Magic, who had not enjoyed the number one since they chose Dwight Howard in 2004, opted for the proven offensive talent of Banchero, born in Seattle (Washington) but who, due to his family origins, also has Italian nationality.
“I don’t know what to say. I can’t believe what just happened, I never would have thought this would happen,” said an emotional Banchero after receiving his new team’s cap from NBA commissioner Adam Silver on stage at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn ( New York).
Until a few minutes before the ceremony, the vast majority of experts agreed that Orlando would opt for Jabari Smith, an explosive 2.11m power forward with a great outside shot, or Chet Holmgren, an intimidating 2.13m center and with a good hand, both with better reputations as defenders than Banchero.
The power forward, who averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists in his only season at Duke, should be the spearhead of the renewed Magic, who finished penultimate in the Eastern Conference last season with 21 wins and 51 losses. In the May lottery, luck smiled on Orlando allowing him to pick first for the fourth time in its history, after the selections of Shaquille O’Neal (1992), Chris Webber (1993) and Dwight Howard (2004).
Second, Chet Holmgren was drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder, a franchise in constant rebuilding. At 19 years old, Holmgren should be the great reference in the interior game of Oklahoma, which in the perimeter has two of the guards with the most future in the league, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the Australian Josh Giddey, and that has other 18 first-round elections until 2028.
Most analysts agree that Holmgren (14.1 points and 9.9 rebounds on average) is a riskier bet than Banchero or Smith but also that he offers the greatest potential in this Draft. There is no precedent for a 2.13m player with his shooting (1.3 3-pointers per game), ball handling and defensive intimidation (3.7 blocks).
The Houston Rockets took third place with Jabari Smith, who was considered a heavy favorite for number one because of his ability to make an impact on both ends of the floor. To find a Draft with the first three elections dominated by tall men, you have to go back to 2001, when the number one was Kwame Brown, a cousin of Jabari Smith.
This talented power forward, who averaged 16.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2 assists at Auburn, can form a fearsome pairing in Houston over the next decade with shooting guard Jalen Green, the 2021 number two pick.
The Sacramento Kings, desperate to return to the playoffs after a 16-year absence, analyzed until the last moment offers from other teams about their fourth choice but finally exercised it to choose power forward Keegan Murray (Iowa). Murray, 21 years old and averaging 23.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, will form a new inside game in Sacramento with Lithuanian Domantas Sabonis. In fifth place, the Detroit Pistons selected the athletic point guard Jaden Ivey (Purdue), who will form a perimeter duo with Cade Cunningham, number one in the 2021 Draft.