Although most analysts thought they would select Jabari Smith Jr. with the first overall pick, the Orlando Magic called an audible and snagged Paolo Banchero. While we still don’t have much to go off of, that decision does seems wise. The former Duke Blue Devils looked good during limited Summer League action and has already received some high praise from Draymond Green.
Although the Golden State Warriors forward might not be everyone’s cup of tea, he knows a thing or two about NBA success. In his eyes, Banchero has that special something about him.
Draymond Green is already impressed with Paolo Banchero
During his time in the Association, Draymond Green has claimed four championships. While Paolo Banchero is yet to play an official NBA game, the veteran already believes that the rookie is a “winner.”
“Paolo Banchero, I think, is one of the ones,” Green on a recent episode of his podcast. “And the reason I think Paolo is one of them guys is because of the things that he did on the basketball court that were not scoring. Yes, he did all the things with the basketball. Yes, he made the plays. But the plays that he made that didn’t involve him having the basketball is why I think Paolo is going to be one of them guys. Him getting on teammates, coming in as a rookie. The winning plays that he was making down the stretch.”
With all of that being said, though, the Magic haven’t been doing much winning lately. They didn’t have the first overall draft pick by chance. Banchero, however, could be part of a young core that changes things.
“When’s the last time we saw the Orlando Magic competing to win games like they were competing to win games when Paolo was out there on the court,” Green continued. I hope that organization is ready for that player because that player is a winner. That player, he cares. I mean, he was out there playing them Summer League games like he was playing in the NBA Finals. With that type of intensity. That is a winner right before your eyes.”
It will be interesting to see how the Magic make the best use of Paolo Banchero’s skill set
If you’ve watched Banchero, even for a few minutes, it’s obvious that he’s talented. If you trust Draymond Green’s judgment, then the young forward is also a winner. Now, the larger question is how his talents fit into the Orlando Magic’s overall plan.
As you might expect from his status as a first overall pick, Banchero can do it all. He stands at 6-foot-10 and is capable of finishing at the rim, but he’s equally comfortable handling the ball on the perimeter. He doesn’t have the greatest outside shot, but as his time at Duke progressed, he looked more and more comfortable taking an in-rhythm three. The forward is also a capable defender and, thanks to facing constant double-teams as he rose through the ranks, can pick out the perfect pass to set his teammates up for success.
The question, however, is how the Magic will use that diverse skill set. While there’s something to be said for allowing Banchero to simply play his game, it’s also possible that he’ll evolve. Not only is he playing with a talented group, but Orlando’s lineup could create some interesting wrinkles.
“The Magic have an extremely interesting, and distinctive, frontcourt,” Josh Cohen wrote on NBA.com. “Infrequently does a team have this much versatility with their forwards and centers. Looking up and down the league, there isn’t a team that has as much playmaking on the frontline than Orlando does with Banchero, Franz Wagner, and Wendell Carter Jr.”
Given that Banchero is an adept passer, perhaps he’ll be used more as a point-forward or a stretch wing. That would place more of an emphasis on his iffy jump shot, but Orlando’s coaching staff could be confident that it will improve with repetition. On the opposite side of the coin, Banchero’s size could also make him an interior threat, forcing oppositions to field a larger lineup to avoid being bullied in the paint.
At this point, we’ll just have to wait and see how things play out. Banchero, though, will certainly be someone worth watching. As Draymond Green said, maybe he’ll be the winner who can help Orlando truly turn a corner.