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Paolo Banchero will be your 2022-23 NBA Rookie of the Year

Paolo Banchero will be your 2022-23 NBA Rookie of the Year

The Magic shocked a lot of NBA fans when they selected Paolo Banchero with the first pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Virtually every mock draft had him going third overall to the Rockets, and it made sense with the core of young guards the Rockets have and the team’s need for a big man.

Nevertheless, the Magic took the shot on the Duke superstar, and just a couple of months into the season, Banchero is making the Magic front office look like geniuses.

Banchero got his NBA career started with a bang, scoring 27 with nine boards and five assists while also adding two blocks. Aside from the performance though, his comfortability as a scorer was remarkable. It looks almost effortless for him at times.

Banchero is averaging 21.8 points on the year despite just turning 20 last month. He’s shown already that he’s a more than capable scorer in this league with tons of room to still grow. Aiding his scoring efforts is his ability to draw fouls. His 8.7 attempts per game at the charity stripe puts him eighth overall in the league and is a great way to get easy points.

Another big part of his offensive dominance has been his work in the pick-and-roll game. It currently makes up 43% of his offense and has been a big reason why his transition to the NBA has looked so seamless.

Room for growth

While Banchero has already shown so much for Magic fans to be excited about, he is still 20 years old and adjusting to the changing pace of the NBA. His shooting, which was a big question for him coming into the league, is still not very good. He’s currently shooting 23.9% from 3 and his mid-range game still leaves a lot to be desired.

Nevertheless, he’s still picking apart opposing defenses. Houston Rockets head coach Stephen Silas told The Score that Banchero’s size is the biggest differentiating factor in making him such a tough assignment defensively.

“His shooting isn’t there yet, though I’m sure he’ll get there, but his passing and dribbling at that size and physicality makes him hard to guard,” Silas told The Score following Banchero’s 30-point outing against Houston in November.

Still lacking is Banchero’s defensive ability. At 6-foot-10 and 280 pounds, Banchero has the athleticism and length to be a premier defender in this league. He’s shown flashes at time of being an elite defender but overall, it’s clear that Banchero is still learning the nuances of an NBA defense.

Banchero is obviously far from the perfect player. But the poise and maturity he’s shown on offense at such a young age is something that should make any Magic fan excited for the future. The development of his jumper and defense will come in time as he gets more adjusted to the league. He’s an incredibly hard worker and if he makes the right steps, he can be a superstar in this league by the time he’s 23 or 24.

I’m not even a Magic fan but am still sooo excited to see how this young man’s career plays out. He’s playing at an elite level right now and will almost certainly be your Rookie of the Year come the end of the season.

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