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Basketball Hall of Famer Thinks Rising Star Deserves More Credit

Mar 23, 2024; Orlando, Florida, USA; A detailed view of the shoes worn by Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero (5) during the game against the Sacramento Kings at KIA Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Former NBA Finals MVP Paul Pierce believes Orlando Magic All-Star Paolo Banchero deserves more credit than he has gotten this season. In just his second season, the reigning Rookie of the Year made it to his first All-Star team and has led the Magic to a playoff berth. Orlando has not made a postseason appearance since the 2019-20 season. Because of this, Pierce believes Banchero deserves his flowers:

“He made the All-Star team in his second year. I look up and Orlando is in the fourth slot. Who pegged Orlando, after the season they had last year, as a top-four seed possibly going to sew up a first-round homecourt advantage? Nobody saw that coming. And I don’t hear nobody nationally talk about Paolo.”

Pierce also said Banchero “is in that next group of young superstars that need to be talked about.” Furthermore, Pierce believes the Magic forward “is in the same sentence” as stars like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Anthony Edwards, and Zion Williamson.

This season, Banchero has shown massive improvement in his game. In 77 games, the Washington native is averaging 22.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game. Furthermore, he is shooting 45.8% from the field and 33.8% from the three-point line.

The Magic are currently 46-33 and tied for the No. 4 seed. Additionally, with three games remaining, they are two games behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the No. 2 seed. Although it’s unlikely, there is a chance the Magic can climb up the standings before the season ends.

Basketball Hall of Famer Thinks Rising Star Deserves More Credit

Paolo Banchero Can Be Special in the League

In two seasons, Banchero is already building a solid resume. And at just 21 years old, he will likely continue to improve with each season. Additionally, head coach Jamahl Mosley spoke highly of Banchero’s game after the forward’s NBA All-Star selection:

“He is an All-Star because he impacts winning more than people can even imagine,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley told Andscape. “He is doing the right things every time down the floor to make everybody around him better. He is setting people up for shots. Guys are getting open looks. He is attacking the basket, putting pressure on the defense, getting on the free throw line. He is doing it in an unselfish way to try to make our team better in any way possible … “He is all about the right things. That needs to be said more than anything else.”

Banchero has looked like a future NBA star since his rookie year last season. And now that his team is in the playoffs, it will be interesting to see how he and his team can perform when the lights are just a bit brighter.

The Last Word on the Orlando Magic Star

Pierce has a solid point about Banchero. He has shown he is immensely talented, but he seems to fly under the radar somehow. He’s probably not on the same level as guys like Gilgeous-Alexander and Edwards yet, but he can certainly get there. Depending on how far Orlando advances in the playoffs, Banchero could get his national acknowledgment sooner rather than later.


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