Two NBA Summer League games were all the Orlando Magic needed to know that they had seen enough of Paolo Banchero in action.
Banchero’s averages of 20.0 points (on 40.7/50.0/80.0 shooting splits) 5.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 2.5 steals, and a block through two contests are great especially since defenses were largely focused on HIM, but the Magic are focusing on the bigger picture here.
Summer league games are nice and the tournament champions get rings now (wew) but NBA regular (and post) season games matter more in the long run. One can even go as far as saying that Banchero won’t even see summer league action next year, a trend that is not uncommon for franchises looking to protect their stars. Orlando was also being practical in their approach as they will devote Banchero’s 30.1 minutes per game to the other players the Magic want to get a longer look at in filling out their roster.
Beyond the numbers and nitpicking the level of competition in summer league, HOW Banchero earned his stats and stripes on the court will carry more weight from here on out. In any case, the numbers will come so long as he can play.
When Banchero is engaged, he’s pretty much close to unstoppable. The former Duke Blue Devil knows how to use his body to create space and get wherever he wants to on the floor. Banchero’s range also extends to behind the 3-point line and he can go deep into his bag to get his points.
The playmaking is an interesting development, especially since he only averaged 3.2 assists in 39 games for the Blue Devils. The former quarterback sees plays right before or just as they happen and crisply gets the ball to his teammates. From a basketball standpoint, he also understands the gravity he draws on the defense and of course, being 6-10 helps too.
Banchero’s assist numbers could get better with more talented teammates, but they could also drop especially if he encounters more intricate defenses that will bait him into errors and make him question his decisions. Nevertheless, Orlando has to love that he can (and will) hunt for his shot and that of his teammates.
One of the knocks on Banchero’s game was his engagement or at times lack thereof in certain possessions, but those were easily put to bed thanks to how the Magic summer league coaching staff gave the 2022 Consensus second-team All-American pointers and put him in a position to succeed. His vision and awareness aren’t just limited to the offensive end, as he can anticipate plays on defense.
Banchero’s decision-making may be the more pressing issue as the 10 turnovers he committed in two games have come to be a consequence of his style of play. Limiting rather than eliminating may be the more realistic goal and between now and opening night in October, making even better reads and not overdoing things should be among his top priorities to work on. The latter will also be crucial since the 19-year old will need to navigate through an 82-game season, which is more than double the number of games the 2022 ACC Rookie of the Year played at Duke.
While there were no reports of Banchero suffering any injuries, Orlando was wise to let the Italian-American sit out the rest of the summer league tournament. Unnecessary wear and tear for a player who thrives in physical play could lead to less time on the court and the Magic would rather take care of him this early than see another top overall pick of theirs move on to the Los Angeles Lakers.
After a quick trip through the NBA Summer League, Paolo Banchero and the Orlando Magic have set their sights on opening night of the 2022-2023 NBA Season. Summer league didn’t really reveal anything new about Banchero but it sure got the Magic excited for what’s to come.