Orlando Magic rookie Paolo Banchero is rewriting NBA history
The Orlando Magic selected Paolo Banchero from Duke first overall in the 2022 NBA Draft. Banchero was projected to go top three but going No. 1 overall seemed unlikely. Chet Holmgren and Jabari Smith were the favorites to go first and second in the draft until the Magic grabbed Banchero with the first overall pick, and they haven’t looked back.
Some doubted Banchero, while others fully believed in his talent and knew he should go No. 1 in the draft.
Banchero is blowing all expectations out of the water. The Magic have not performed well so far this season, but that might turn around soon as the rookie continues to rewrite NBA history with his performances in each game. The Magic has yet to win a game, but fans haven’t been too salty about the struggles, as their bright future is shining.
Banchero has quickly become a leader for the Magic, as he looks like an experienced NBA vet in his first season, but just how good is he, and are these performances sustainable?
How good is Paolo Banchero?
Rookies entering the NBA always have expectations, especially the first overall selection. Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson, and Shaquille O’Neal lived up to the first-overall draft choice, but few have dominated off the get-go. LeBron James had all the hype and still lived up to and exceeded expectations.
Paolo Banchero is now the first rookie to have 25 points, five rebounds, and five assists in the first game of their rookie season since LeBron James. Banchero didn’t have the hype James had entering the NBA, but people are in awe of how he is performing and now believe that he is the real deal.
Banchero is averaging 24 points, eight rebounds, and three assists a night. He became the seventh player in history to post 20-plus points in his first five games in the NBA and is the only one under 20 years old to do so. Banchero is the first player in their first five career starts to total 120+ points, 35+ rebounds, and 15+ assists since Dominique Wilkins in 1982-83.
To say his rookie season is off to a hot start is an understatement. Banchero is rewriting the record book; his play has been outstanding. Will Banchero be able to keep up this level of play?
There are no signs of slowing down for the 6-foot-10 power forward from Duke. Banchero had all his gifts and talent in college but struggled to be consistent. His knowledge of the game was evident, but he became too passive, wanting to involve his teammates often, which has changed dramatically.
In the NBA, Banchero efficiently uses his size and drives the lane well. His ability to distribute the ball and his effortless skill to get to the free-throw line is impressive. Very few young players can easily get to the line, while Banchero gets there seven to ten times a night, making 80% of his free-throw attempts.
Banchero has his teammates believing in him. Franz Wagner stated:
"“He’s a very impressive (player). His poise, his talent and skillset are very obvious, but he gives us a lot of confidence and energy to the rest of the group. To have that kind of leadership so early I think is very impressive. Our chemistry is going to continue to get better. Obviously, we want to win games. We don’t just want to be close in all these games.”"
The Orlando Magic recognizes what they have in this young man. The team is youthful, huge, and hungry to succeed. An 0-5 record is difficult to swallow, but it will improve as time passes. A team with such young talent is still without some important players who are out with injuries. It is only up from here for the Orlando Magic, and once the team gets healthy and more comfortable with one another, the future looks good for the young Magic squad.
Banchero is young but plays with an understanding of the game beyond his years. He is humble, hardworking, and only wants to win. He understands his ability, but he is a team player first. Banchero will continue to perform and get his teammates involved more often.
The Magic may have yet to win, but they are always in the game. They’ll be able to pull together and upset some top-level teams, and there is no reason that Banchero won’t continue his dominance as his peers recognize his talent on the floor and that he is their best chance to win.