Duke star Paolo Banchero lands in top 3 of ESPN's latest NBA mock draft
Duke forward Paolo Banchero landed at No. 3 overall in ESPN’s updated 2022 NBA mock draft, which was released on Wednesday morning.
Banchero is behind Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr. Both Gonzaga and Auburn are expected to be No. 1 seeds, so it’s possible Duke could face either team late in the NCAA Tournament.
Of course, Duke has already played — and beaten — Gonzaga. Banchero was dominant in the first half of that game before being limited in the second half due to cramps.
ESPN is projecting Banchero to land with the Houston Rockets. He would be interesting to pair next to Houston’s pick from last season, Jalen Green. Both players are high-potential, volume scorers who can also operate within an offense.
Banchero is having a great season for Duke, averaging 16.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per contest. However, NBA scouts have started to become weary of his efficiency on the perimeter — 29.9 percent from 3-point range — and his defensive abilities.
Still, Banchero remains in the mix to go No. 1 overall because of his combination of size, skill and power. Duke will need him to continue showcasing that ability for the rest of the season.
Duke faces Virginia on Wednesday night.