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Duke’s Paolo Banchero Says He Thinks He’s Best Player in 2022 NBA Draft

Duke’s Paolo Banchero Says He Thinks He’s Best Player in 2022 NBA Draft

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr., Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Duke’s Paolo Banchero are considered the three best players in the 2022 NBA draft class, but one of those three made it clear Friday that he believes he’s the cream of the crop.

Banchero, who starred as a freshman for the Blue Devils during the 2021-22 men’s college basketball season, told reporters that he should be selected with the No. 1 pick on Thursday.

“I feel like I am the best player in the draft, and I feel like I showed that throughout the year,” he said. “I feel like I showed everything with my skill sets and my intangibles.”

Banchero averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.1 steals in 39 games last season while shooting 47.8 percent from the floor and 33.8 percent from deep. He helped lead Duke to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament, where the Blue Devils were eliminated by the North Carolina Tar Heels.

The Orlando Magic hold the first overall pick this year, and Smith is widely expected to be the first player off the board.

In his latest mock draft, Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman also projected Smith to land in Orlando, with Holmgren going to the Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 2 and Banchero to the Houston Rockets at No. 3.

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