The conventional wisdom has a clear top three in this draft, all big men: Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren, and Paolo Banchero. The Magic, Thunder and Rockets have the first three picks this year and likely will select that trio in some order.
Which means Seattle native Banchero could end up a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder — and 8-year-old Banchero would not like that, something he said back in high school in an interview recently dug up by Paulo Alves.
Paolo Banchero is one of us for real 🥺
“I never liked the Thunder”
— Paulo Alves (@PauloAlvesNBA) May 30, 2022
Obviously, the context has been edited out of that clip. So take it with a grain — or full shaker — of salt.
Nobody should expect a young Banchero to like the Thunder, there are still bitter feelings about the Sonics’ move to Oklahoma City throughout Seattle. Then commissioner David Stern and the owners let it happen in part as a message to cities to pitch in to pay for NBA arenas (Seattle wouldn’t at the time). That’s not the kind of thing a young fan wraps their head around (a lot of adults struggled with the logic, too).
Banchero has matured, played his college ball at Duke, and is about to get paid a lot of money to play basketball — and will gladly do that wherever he gets drafted. That could be Oklahoma City, although most mock drafts have the Magic taking Smith No. 1, the Thunder rolling the dice on Holmgren second, and Banchero going to the Rockets at No. 3. However, things could change over the next month, Banchero to the Thunder is possible.
If it happens, Banchero will be okay with it, even if his younger self might not have liked it.