Paulo Banchero was unimaginable in his debut with the Orlando Magic

Paolo Banchero solely wanted 22 minutes in his NBA profession to entrench himself within the historical past books. Halfway by the third quarter, he scored his 14th level of the sport, setting an Orlando Magic rookie report for many factors in a debut. His teamate, Mo Bamba, beforehand held the high-water mark.

By night time’s finish, he tacked on 13 extra factors to complete with 27 (64 p.c true taking pictures), probably the most by a rookie throughout their inaugural outing since Allen Iverson in 1996. He additionally added 9 boards, 5 dimes and a pair of rejections in Orlando’s 113-109 defeat towards the Detroit Pistons. His 27-9-5 line made him the primary rookie since LeBron James to tally 25-5-5 of their debut. That’s some esteemed firm for the 19-year-old.

Whereas these rarified numbers shouldn’t be the baseline shifting ahead, a efficiency like this was swelling all through the preseason. He began slowly, scoring 17 factors on 5-of-17 taking pictures within the Magic’s first two tune-up contests.

Over the ultimate three, he appeared extra content material toggling on and off the ball, determining find out how to harmonize with Franz Wagner and Wendell Carter Jr., and leveraging his distinct arsenal towards NBA opponents to catalyze fruitful possessions. In these video games, he scored 53 factors on 65.3 p.c true taking pictures and showcased a multifaceted offensive bundle that blends nicely with the remainder of Orlando’s youthful cornerstones.


Towards the Pistons on Wednesday, the vast majority of his buckets arose organically. His pre-draft enchantment revolved predominantly round his creation potential as a hulking, 6-foot-10 initiator, however he’s made clear early in his NBA tenure that he’s adept discovering his probabilities throughout the offense whereas others pilot the motion.

When fast-break reps materialized, his fluidity, footwork, energy and contact overwhelmed defenders. In accordance with Synergy, he was an ideal 5-of-5 in transition Wednesday. It’s staggeringly arduous to comprise somebody of his dimension who pairs sleek ball-handling with locomotive energy and motion abilities.

Off-ball scoring

Very similar to Wagner final yr, Banchero’s rapidly acknowledged the huge reducing alternatives on this offense and is more and more feasting on them each sport. Orlando is shrewdly scheming mismatches for him, particularly on pindown actions that elicit switches and let him play bully-ball, the place he relishes selling contact towards ill-equipped defenders. Given the scale and abilities of this frontcourt, most opponents should concede a mismatch towards certainly one of them. Generally, it’ll be Banchero, who will jam out in these conditions.

The Magic conduct a substantial portion of their offense by a pair of jumbo, eagle-eyed creators in Wagner and Carter, which allows Banchero to thrive off the ball. He ought to develop extra prepared to launch spot-up threes moderately than hesitate, drive a drive and stall a bonus, a difficulty that predates his NBA arrival. However the early returns of his off-ball repertoire are usually encouraging, each in Wednesday’s opener and all through the preseason.

On-ball scoring

Orlando has doled out Banchero’s offensive utilization fairly keenly. It’s not tasking him with creation responsibility each play down, neither is it stationing him within the nook to amplify Wagner and Carter’s on-ball improvement whereas he fades out of relevancy. There’s been a wholesome mix of each, with the objective to domesticate all three gamers right into a synergistic frontcourt trio completely content material slipping out and in of various roles.

He’s garnering a healthy dose of autonomy to deal with the ball and run pick-and-rolls. He’ll post-up, and deploy his refined footwork — he covers swaths of area along with his sagacious footwork — and physicality for buckets or fouls. He’s ridiculously robust and can search favorable contact each time he fashions a minor benefit or opening. Via six video games (5 preseason, one common season), his free-throw charge is .420. On Wednesday alone, it was .389.

Current him a mismatch and his dexterity, ease of motion and energy dominate the succeeding occasions. Defenders who both mirror his mobility and energy or crowd his deal with pose issues on face-up or submit touches, however that archetype just isn’t plentiful throughout the league. His long-term intersection of slashing and pull-up taking pictures, with the previous already wanting like a bankable attribute, is extremely engaging.

I additionally love the idea of him working as a trailer in early offense when Jalen Suggs, Markelle Fultz or others dial up the tempo to use lackadaisical defensive group. His energy would excel in that context, and it would embolden him to be extra concise off the catch, whether or not he’s attacking or taking pictures instantly.

He’s snug driving or firing off the bounce round screens, and Orlando is enabling it with out overindulging. If these avenues are curtailed, he’ll merely chisel himself right down to the low block. Certainly not has he been confined to slim, regimented tasks to this point offensively, nor has he been afforded alternatives with none supervision to kind regarding habits.

Often, he’ll scratch an itch for a jumper and drive up one thing contested or early within the clock. But these are minor cases, and he’s not routinely tossing up head-scratching makes an attempt in any respect.


His decision-making as a scorer suffices. He’s nonetheless adapting to NBA-caliber decision-making and processing speeds as a passer. The expertise is clear, however he’ll go away his ft with no plan or establish angles late earlier than trying a passing learn right into a nonexistent window.

By sheer advantage of his dimension and dealing with aptitude to wilt defensive shells, he’s accrued a handful of hockey assists. Orlando is periodically using him on the brief roll, too. I’d anticipate these kinds of flashes turning into commonplace sooner moderately than later. Producing environment friendly offense at an NBA stage is difficult for anybody, not to mention a 19-year-old rookie 2.5 weeks into his profession. Rising pains as a passer are typical.


Whereas the vary of his offensive future spans large, his protection is extra specialised, particularly in the meanwhile. He’s usually been assigned to perimeter-based choices and it’s required him to be an off-ball chaser, a sticky proposition at his dimension. Bojan Bogdanovic torched just about everybody Wednesday, however Banchero’s lack of ability to effectively navigate screens or react to them promptly augmented the veteran sharpshooter’s efforts.

The rookie can be vulnerable to ball-watching and reaching that spur breakdowns, on and off the ball. Nevertheless, he’s displaying intriguing helpside chops on the inside. His approach necessitates refinement. As an alternative of positioning his complete physique in entrance of drivers or rollers, he tends to swipe for blocks. Different instances, he fouls by relinquishes verticality and bringing his fingers down. The bottom-floor attentiveness he’s exhibited supplies optimism, although.

Regardless, avoiding matchups that place him into an off-ball chaser situation and prioritizing matchups that preserve him as a weakside helper must be the target. Even so, Banchero has to trim down the ball-watching and enhance his on-ball self-discipline. Defensive roles shift all through a possession. They don’t seem to be static. He can’t pigeonhole himself on the expense of Orlando’s collective protection.

Earlier than the Magic nabbed the No. 1 choose final spring, their rebuild was progressing easily, headlined by Wagner, Carter and Suggs. With Banchero within the combine, clean’s been changed by particular as the acceptable descriptor. They’re diversifying his offensive utilization, involving him alongside Wagner and Carter, and maximizing the encompassing personnel to his profit.

His debut Wednesday embodied that. He’s guiding their eventual quest again to the playoffs, whereas they’re fastidiously approaching his improvement to maximise simply how far he can lead them within the seasons forward.

Rahul Diyashi
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