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Top 25 NBA Players Under 25: No. 16 – Paolo Banchero

Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic

Paolo Banchero has so far met the expectations of being the No. 1 overall pick. Last season, the Orlando Magic forward won Rookie of the Year. Banchero averaged 20.0 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 0.8 steals. At just 20 years old, he has plenty of time to develop and improve his No. 16 ranking on this list.

Top 25 NBA Players Under 25: No. 16 – Paolo Banchero

At six-foot-10 and 250 pounds, Banchero has excellent positional size and strength, allowing him to dominate in multiple aspects of the game. His size and ballhandling ability is reminiscent of LeBron James to a lesser extent. Because of his unique talent, Banchero can be utilized in various ways, similar to James.

He can bring the ball up the court himself if he comes down with the defensive rebound. If not, Banchero can be utilized offensively through post-ups, pick and rolls, or isolation situations. He’s an underrated playmaker, evidenced by his 3.7 assists per game. 

As he continues to develop his game, Banchero’s strength of being a multi-faceted player with a unique skill set, size, and athleticism should only continue to expand.

Areas of Improvement

One area of Banchero’s game he will need to improve is shooting. Banchero was inefficient in his rookie season, with 43/30/74 splits. His three-point shooting, in particular, will need improvement if he wants to become an All-Star. As the Magic continue to develop their young core and climb the standings, Banchero likely won’t have the same usage rate as he did his rookie year. In other words, he’ll need to improve his ability to play off the ball and space the floor more effectively so that the other up-and-coming Magic players have more room to operate.

Another area of improvement for Banchero is on the defensive side of the ball. According to FiveThirtyEight, Banchero had a negative 1.7 defensive RAPTOR rating in his rookie season. The good news regarding Banchero’s defensive potential is the fact that he has positional size and athleticism.

The NBA has become such a pick-and-roll-oriented league that prioritizes exploring defensive mismatches. Banchero is someone who can guard multiple positions and could wind up being a positive defensively as long as he continues developing his agility and decision-making.

The Magic have created a team identity built around length and versatility, notably with Banchero and Franz Wagner. They have tremendous potential as a switchable team that will be hard to exploit from a mismatch standpoint. Banchero improving defensively is a huge piece of that puzzle.

The Last Word on Paolo Banchero

Nonetheless, Banchero is already a proven NBA asset who instantly became one of Orlando’s best players on day one. He can impact winning in multiple aspects with his size, athleticism, and skill set. Banchero is a foundational piece the Magic can build around, and so far, he has proven to be worthy of a first-overall draft pick. 

ALSO READ: Top 25 NBA Players Under 25: No. 17 – Walker Kessler


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