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Magic Mainspring Reveals NBA Dream

May 5, 2024; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero (5) listens to the national anthem before the game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Magic at game seven of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

After being selected first overall in the 2022 NBA Draft, Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero won Rookie of the Year, nearly unanimously.

The very next season, Banchero earned his first All-Star selection, putting up numbers similar to 2019 No. 1 pick Zion Williamson. There was never any doubt about his star potential. Notwithstanding, few expected him to play this well, this early.

Bancher may not have seen this coming himself.

“Once I got drafted, all that was on my mind was being the best rookie,” he confesses in an interview with The Washington Post’s Ben Golliver. “I kind of got anxious heading into my second year [because] I was back along with everybody else and part of the field.”

Now, his “mission is to be the best in the league.”

Paolo Banchero Reveals NBA Dream

At this point, Banchero’s All-Star potential has been realized. Now he’s known to be an All-NBA caliber player, especially after his playoff debut. However, even that’s not enough for the Seattle native.

“MVP is the award you dream about,” Banchero says.

“I don’t think it’s unrealistic for me to get there at some point,” he continues. “I’m trying to be the complete player. I’m not there yet. But that’s my vision for myself: A guy who doesn’t have any weaknesses on either side of the floor and who can go out there and do everything.”

Banchero is one of 32 players to average at least 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists per game in 2023-24. Among those players, he’s one of 23 to average at least 1.5 steals and blocks per game combined. A three-level scorer with plenty of poise and advanced decision-making, Banchero’s offense has been the most impressive part of his game. However, his work on the glass and at the defensive end hasn’t gone unnoticed, with his physical profile allowing him to make an impact in other areas.

Building Around Banchero

“There’s a lot of young talent that’s on the rise quick,” Banchero says. “There’s some of that where the guard is changing.”

“You look at Anthony [Edwards]. The team he has around him is one of the best in the NBA. That’s motivation for me.”

Explaining how this change has occurred, the 21-year-old understands that “younger players are starting to have teams built around them and they’re in position to take over.”

With that said, the key to Banchero’s dreams becoming reality has a lot to do with the team he has around him.

Banchero’s numbers in the regular season need to start resembling those from the 2024 NBA Playoffs. In seven games, he averaged 27.0 points and 8.6 rebounds per contest, shooting 40.0 percent from 3. That’ll also go a long way towards him making an MVP case, as that’s an elite level of production.

Nonetheless, there’s usually a limit to how many wins players can generate without a strong supporting cast. Even the all-time greats have needed help most of the time. Indeed, the ‘superteam’ or ‘Big 3’ era was all about stars wanting to collaborate on the path to an NBA championship. With that said, given the importance of winning in an MVP race, the Magic have to dominate as a team. It can’t just be Banchero.

After going 47-35 last season, Orlando is on the right path, using their lottery picks to build a solid core.

2021 No. 8 pick Franz Wagner has star potential. Jalen Suggs, Jonathan Isaac, and Anthony Black —all taken within the top six picks—change games for them defensively. Cole Anthony can be one of the better sixth man for a long time.

Magic Offseason Targets

With $65.5 million in maximum practical cap space this offseason, they can now add a veteran star.

To that end, they’ve been linked to wings Paul George and Klay Thompson, who have 14 All-Star selections between them. If they can get George specifically, it’ll go a long way towards their future success. Giving them what should be no less than a 50-win team, both their individual and team goals will be obtained.


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