Orlando Magic Rookie Impresses In Search of NBA Trophy

Nathan Pedersen, Reporter

Pregame – 3/23/23 against the New York Knicks while the Orlando Magic fans are filling the Amyway Arena to support Paolo Banchero. (Nathan Pedersen)

Paolo Banchero is lighting the league on fire throughout his first season with the Orlando Magic. After being drafted first overall, Banchero has put himself in arms reach of the NBA Rookie of the Year award.

Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley sings his praises for the rookie saying “He isn’t afraid of the big challenges and never shies away from a moment” after a pivotal win against the New York Knicks primarily guarding the opposing leading scorer, Julius Randle. With the help of Banchero, the Orlando Magic are managing a 40.3%-win rate, nearly doubling last seasons. If he were to win the Rookie of The Year award, he would join a legendary list of former Duke University athletes to win the award.

Banchero is averaging 20 points per game on 42.3 percent shooting, ranking No. 1 among rookies. The Orlando Magic rookie is leading the ROY race, but other rookies have made a name for themselves this year. Indiana Pacers Forward Bennedict Mathurin has impressed many with his play-making abilities in his introductory season. There are some people out there who prefer Mathurin to Banchero for what he adds defensively. Matthew Dewey, prominent Pacers Podcaster host, claims, “Mathurin’s all-around game is just better than Paolo. The way he effects the game is entirely different and more efficient.” The Pacers’ win rate has increased this year, but only 5.1 percent. Marginal compared to the Magic’s 13.5 percent increase.

The Orlando Magic themselves have an impressive legacy of creating Rookie of the Year Trophy winners out of the first overall pick in the NBA Draft. Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, and Dwight Howard all won the ROY trophy in their respective years after being selected first overall by the Orlando Magic. Orlando Magic supporter Hannah Lucero attributes this to “Orlando’s nurturing environment that lets young players grow into the player they want to be.”

Every Magic first pick has broken records in their inaugural season including Paolo Banchero. Being the first ever to score 20-plus in 15 out of the initial 20 games of the season is nothing to scoff. Banchero has emerged as a statistical top 50-player in the entire league after just seven months. With a good head on his shoulders, He has set himself up for a lasting future in the NBA.

On March 23 against the Knicks, Banchero willed the Magic to an impressive win. The environment was fierce, and the crowd chanted “M-V-P, M-V-P.” The city of Orlando has bought into Paolo and Paolo returned the love that night with 21 points, adding four 3-pointers on 73 percent shooting! Many are saying he etched his name into the Rookie of the Year Trophy with this massive performance. Banchero himself on draft night said “I feel good in Orlando. The fans are excited, and I am excited to show them what I can do. I am excited for what the future holds and bring this franchise some trophies.”

Few thought that the first trophy would be this soon into his NBA career. Like the Magic legends before him, Banchero is bringing the first of many trophies to Orlando this summer.