With the first half of the season well behind us now – we have had a great look at the current rookie class. And it is without a doubt that Paolo Banchero has had the biggest impact this year. He was not only the best player in the draft, but was ready to step in and contribute from the start, which he did. In his opening game he scored 27, grabbed 9 boards and had 5 dimes vs Detroit. Orlando gave Banchero the keys to the car from the start and he responded. The former Duke star is hitting 47% from two, along with his 6.6 rpg, which is 2nd on the team, and his 3.6 apg which is 3rd. Banchero is impacting the team and has been key when they win, even though it hasn’t been frequently, he has been the cog to this team. Particularly on the offensive end of things, they have leaned on the 250lb PF quite a bit this season.
Banchero makes defenders pay if they get complacent on defense – if they aren’t on top of him from the beginning he can rip past them and get to the cup. He also has shown to have very good vision, with his smooth play-making ability, especially for a big, as he has excelled passing out of the post, and off the dribble. Banchero knows when he has gotten some space to work, and can take a slower defender off the dribble and knock down an open shot.
He has good size at 6-10, and has no shortage of strength, which has allowed him to defend on the interior and has given him the ability to be a very active rebounder, as he has had 22 games with 8+ boards, including 13 games with 2 or more on the offensive side. He has been comfortable cleaning the defensive glass and getting off to starting the break. He has gotten into the lane with ease, putting the ball in the hoop, and has also been able to drop shots from the midrange, hitting 49% from 16′ and in. He has the ability to threaten defenses as a shot creator and playmaker and being the VegasTopDogs of this years draft.
The Magic have had a nice improvement from last year. Last season, they won 22 games for the entire season – they are on track to win about 30 games this year, which isn’t good, but they have certainly improved as a team. The Magic still need a real SG very badly – making a move should probably be something they are looking into. In a perfect world for them – they get themselves a stud at SG, and let Banchero continue to develop, while watching the 20 year old be their leader on the court. This would help solve some of their offensive woes that have been plaguing them. It seems to be, in the current game, a team needs a star guard to win in this league. Banchero tagged up with a real SG could get them in the right direction as a team, unfortunately that will not be an easy task.