The 2002 NBA Draft is in the books and the Orlando Magic have their man, the number 1 pick Paolo Banchero. What does Paolo offer to the Magic is now the question being asked by many? Here we dive down into the game and potential of Paolo Banchero to the Orlando Magic.
Who Is The Number 1 Pick Paolo Banchero?
Paolo Banchero is a 19 year old, 6ft 10, 250 lb, power forward out of Duke.
Born in Seattle his mother is the basketball player and USA international Rhonda Banchero (formerly Rhonda Smith). His father Mario Banchero is of Italian descent.
Paolo was a star within US high school basketball. He also played American football as the backup quarterback on a state championship team.
At college he attended Duke. It has one of the foremost basketball programs in the States. It was here that Banchero was coached by the legendary Coach K, Mike Krzyzewski.
Banchero is eligible to play for the Italian national basketball team, having Italian citizenship. Banchero was selected by Italy in a 24-man squad for EuroBasket 2022 qualification in November 2020, however he did not play.
The following was written in an article on FIBA.basketball in November 2020, which reads:
Riccardo Fois, the Director of Player Development for the Phoenix Suns who oversees the development and recruitment of Italian-US prospects for Italy’s national team, can hardly wait to see Banchero play for the Azzurri.
“Obviously, we are talking about one of the best prospects not only in the US but in the whole world at his age,” Fois said. “He’s a versatile wing, a modern player, who can play with the ball, without the ball, push it in transition, shoot from the mid range, shoot from behind the three-point line, attack the rim. I love his physicality on both ends of the floor. He’s always impacting the game.
“He’s a winner, he’s been a winner his whole career. In high school when he was a sophomore, he led the team to a state championship. Same thing with his AAU team.”
What Is The Game Of The Number 1 Pick Paolo Banchero?
Banchero is arguably the most offensively talented player in this year’s draft. His game is expected to instantly lift the Magic’s scoring threat. It is no secret that the Magic have lacked in that aspect for many years. Both of the last two seasons has seen Orlando ranked poorly in scoring, 29th in each.
The Magic needed to find a scorer. It can easily be recognised that this selection by the Front Office is a major step in doing so. Banchero is a versatile, crafty, powerful and aggressive scorer, with ball handling skills that allow him to create his own shot.
He also possesses good playmaking ability and through drawing defensive attention he opens the floor up for team mates. Last season regularly saw Franz Wagner, Cole Anthony and Terence Ross get the full attention of an opponents best defensive players. There is now an additional threat to factor in. However being so versatile he is a potential nightmare for defenders matching up to him.
He can raise up to take a jump shot whilst playing in isolation with his clever footwork. There is power that sees him effective in the paint or at the rim. He can play in on the move in either transition or in pick-and-roll. Paolo can shoot at any range. He had an excellent balance in shooting from close, mid-range and from distance during his time at Duke.
Powerfully and athletically built he is strong on rebounding.
Who Is Banchero Compared To?
There have been many names of NBA players of note that Paolo has already been compared to.
One that will excite Magic fans is Tracy McGrady. T-Mac was the most impactful scorer for the team in a generation. Paolo has power, range, clever footwork and finesse, all hallmarks of T-Mac’s game.
Chris Webber and Blake Griffin have been mentioned also, being forwards who are big, strong, and versatile.
The ones that seem more widely agreed upon is the comparison to Jayson Tatum and Carmelo Anthony.
What Are The Weaknesses Of The Number 1 Pick Paolo Banchero?
As with every player coming into the league there are weaknesses. Those being highlighted particularly are his lateral speed, defensive IQ and awareness. Finally, shooting consistency is seeing some flags.
Orlando’s squad already features defensive strength and reliability. That depth comes from Jalen Suggs, Wendell Carter Jr, Franz Wagner and Chuma Okeke who all excel in this area. Additionally, the much anticipated return of Jonathan Isaac should impact further. The 19 year old Banchero already possesses size and strength, which should see him match up well against similar players. Working with established defensive players and the Magic coaching staff will see his ability grow.
Shooting consistency is something all players work on. Banchero is working out with Chris Matthews, one of the most sought-after shooting coaches for NBA players. He is better known as Lethal Shooter. Mike Miller is Banchero’s agent and works out with him consistently.
The New Era Begins In Vegas
The Magic are a team that has been looking for a number one offensive option. Have they found that talent with this Number 1 pick?
Banchero is the favourite to win NBA Rookie Of The Year, an honour won by his agent (Mike Miller) in 2001 whilst with the Magic. There will be pressure and expectation for Paolo to deal with. There is huge media attention and scrutiny that comes with being the number 1 pick.
That new era begins in Las Vegas. The Orlando Magic commence their 2022 Summer League campaign on July 7th, against the Houston Rockets. An interesting twist to that opening fixture is Jabari Smith Jr. He was widely expected to be selected by the Magic with the number 1 pick and looked shocked when it did not happen. Ultimately he was taken as the third pick by Houston. Smith may want to deliver a message to Orlando about that selection.