Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic
Paolo Banchero #5 of the Orlando Magic drives to the basket during the first half against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena on October 21, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. Todd Kirkland/Getty Images


  • Paolo Banchero was selected first overall over Jabari Smith during the 2022 NBA draft
  • Banchero is a statistical leader in multiple categories despite missing his first game
  • Many within the NBA have been singing his praises this early into his career

The Orlando Magic have not been a relevant Eastern Conference player since the Dwight Howard era that ended with his departure in 2012, but Paolo Banchero could very well be their new savior.

The Magic were lucky enough to come out on top of the 2022 NBA draft, and though many oddsmakers saw Auburn's Jabari Smith as the minus-150 favorite entering the draft, Orlando opted to select Banchero first overall.

It appears the Magic were correct in their assessment of Banchero being the most NBA-ready among his classmates.

Through 11 games, Banchero is putting up averages of 23.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.7 steals, and 0.9 blocks in just 34.7 minutes per game.

The Duke product is a decent shot as well from the field at 46.1%, but his three-point shooting (25.6%) is only expected to improve once the season progresses.

Compared to others in his class, Banchero's 23.5 points is 3.1 ahead of the Indiana Pacers' Bennedict Mathurin and 8.1 up on the Detroit Pistons' Jaden Ivey.

He also enjoys a healthy lead on the rebounding side of things as his 8.3 per game leads the Piston's Jalen Duren's 6.4, while Banchero's 3.6 assists only rank second to Ivey's 3.8.

All in all, on the stats side of things, Banchero appears to be as clear-cut a winner for the NBA's Rookie of the Year honors since he is simply untouchable on that side of things.

It should be noted that he did miss his first game of the season against the Dallas Mavericks after spraining his left ankle.

Despite that though, Banchero is enjoying a massive lead over his counterparts thanks to his well-rounded skillset that allows him to have the ball in his hands as much as he wants.

For those wondering why the 19-year-old from Seattle has as much assists as he does right now, the Magic are without the services of Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony as both men are dealing with injuries.

NBA personnel have also been voicing their support for Banchero as All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Draymond Green had their own thoughts about the Magic rookie.

Current Dallas Mavericks coach Jason Kidd also declared Banchero as the front-runner for the award and even compared his game to former seven-time All-Star and Hall of Famer Grant Hill because of his handles and midrange stroke.

With how well Banchero has been playing, it would not be surprising to see him walk away with the award unanimously, joining the likes of David Robinson, Damian Lillard and Karl-Anthony Towns among others to win that distinction.

At this point, the only way Banchero's campaign gets derailed is through injury and a massive burst from his classmates to close out the season.

Safe to say if Banchero stays healthy and continues to put up monster numbers while also bringing some much-needed wins for the Magic, NBA fans are already looking at this season's Rookie of the Year.

Paolo Banchero NBA Draft
Paolo Banchero walks out with his family during introductions during the 2022 NBA Draft at Barclays Center on June 23, 2022 in New York City. Arturo Holmes/Getty Images