Orlando Magic’s Paolo Panchero looks confident and relaxed midway through his first NBA season – Andscape

SAN FRANCISCO — Paulo Panchero, the NBA’s most decorated rookie this season, scored 25 points as the Orlando Magic beat the defending champion Golden State Warriors last Saturday night at the Chase Center. Less than a year ago in March 2022, the first pick in the 2022 NBA draft also cut the net here as a true freshman when Duke University advanced to the Final Four at the same venue.

While life moves too fast for the 20-year-old, he appears to be more comfortable on the NBA floor.

“I told our magic security guy and a couple of my teammates that the last time I was here I was punching a ticket to the Final Four,” Banshiro told Landscape. “I had good luck here. Time definitely passed. The end of the tournament was the end of my time in school as well. From that point until now, time seems to have slipped by at the tip of a finger.”

As a No. 1 pick, the expectation is that Banchero will be an NBA star in due course. Banchero, who turned 20 on November 12, wasted no time in billing.

Banchero is averaging 21.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists this season. The 6-foot-10 250-pounder was named Eastern Conference Freshman of the Month for December after averaging 19.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.07 steals in 33.5 minutes per game, including 20 points in a game. Seven in a row. Matches from December 5th to December 18th. Banchero also averaged 23.2 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 3.2 assists in January (five games).

“He was the first pick for a reason,” said Magic Ranger Cole Anthony. “He proves it every night on the ground. He plays hard. He plays the right way. Very skilled. A good guy in the dressing room. I’ve had him under my wing since he got here. He’s special and I’m glad he’s my teammate.”

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said: “He’s a great player. The thing I didn’t realize until I saw him was how big he was. For someone who’s skilful and moves the way he does, you wouldn’t expect to see that size. Great combination. He plays with a lot of confidence. He can Do a lot of things on earth They manage a lot of things [offensively] From which. A really impressive young player.”

Orlando Magic forward Paolo Panchero (R) tackles the Golden State Warriors in the first quarter at Chase Center on January 7, 2023 in San Francisco.

Theron W Henderson/Getty Images

So how does Banchero live up to its billing as a first pick so quickly?

Banshiro cited his self-confidence and work ethic. Furthermore, he said he has played against current and former NBA players in his hometown of Seattle such as Kyrie Irving and Seattle area natives Jamal Crawford, Isaiah Thomas, DeGaunt Murray, Zack LaVine, Mathis Thibul, Spencer Howes, and Gaylene Noel since the age of 15 preventing him from being in awe as an NBA rookie.

“No matter who’s up front, I’m confident I can get anything, whether it’s my positioning or getting the ball across to my teammates,” said Panchero. “I don’t feel like that changes when I get to the NBA. And having been in Seattle, growing up in high school, seeing the pros every summer, playing against them, that helped me a lot just because we were playing a lot of games over the summer, so I was seeing these guys.” All the time. There will be good days. There will be bad days. But it helped me learn a lot.

And they always said to me, ‘It’s not as hard as you think. You just have to be focused and closed off. Once I figured it out, just because I would be able to achieve success, that’s kind of what motivated me to have that attitude.”

“He’s more advanced than a lot of kids his age both physically and mentally,” said magic keeper Terrence Ross.

Magic coach Jamal Mosley added that Panchero “sees the game differently”. The second year coach said he admires Banshiro’s level of maturity. the large number of game movies he watches on himself and on magic, enemies, and other stars in his location; His basketball IQ. His ability to improve daily and his love for basketball. Mosley coached the likes of Luka Doncic, Carmelo Anthony and Irving early in their NBA careers and says Panchero has similarities mentally.

“They process things differently. Paolo is like that,” Mosley said. “The way they see what’s going on. Their ability to analyze and seize it in that moment and sometimes adapt to it. And when [Banchero] He doesn’t adjust, he says later, “Yeah, I could have done that.” He will continue to benefit from those small portions.”

Banchero finished eighth in 2023 NBA All-Star voting among Eastern Conference Frontcourt players in first results last week with 212,417 votes. He was the only rookie in either conference to be ranked #10. While Orlando’s losing record won’t help his case, Mosley believes Panchero deserves All-Star consideration. There hasn’t been a rookie in an NBA All-Star game since Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin in 2012.

“I don’t think it’s too early to talk to the All-Stars with this kid,” Mosley said. “He’s special, and he’s going to be special. The best part about him is that he’s special because he does it with his team. He doesn’t want accolades. He wants to win, to support and support his teammates. It’s also about the numbers he puts up.”

Panchero understands that he will likely be a long way off becoming an NBA All-Star as a rookie.

“I don’t want to really anticipate or even think about it, just to avoid a little disappointment,” Banchero said.

Orlando Magic forward Paolo Panchero (L) leads the basket against Detroit Pistons guard Jaden Ivey (R) on December 28, 2022, at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.

Brian Seewald/NBAE via Getty Images

What’s probably more realistic is the 2022 NBA Rookie of the Year award, which Banchero is on track to a potential unanimous decision victory if he continues on this trajectory of play and stays healthy.

Banchero is the only rookie in the NBA to average more than 20 points per game. He entered Tuesday averaging more than four points per game than the No. 2 rookie per game, Indiana guard Benedict Mathurin (17.1). He also ranks third among rookies in rebounds per game and second in assists. The last time the Magic was awarded Rookie of the Year was Mike Miller in 2001.

“I wanted to come out and win Rookie of the Year and help the team win as much as I could,” Panchero said.

Banshiro’s biggest challenge on the field was climbing the “Beginner’s Wall” last month.

Banchero played 39 games with Duke as a true freshman last season. The Magic entered the week with 40 games played on the season. Panchero admitted that he hit the “rookie wall” in December, which was his least productive month offensively as he averaged season lows of 19.1 points on 40.7 fielding percent shooting in 15 contests. However, these averages are still very good for most NBA players. Banshiro said that the holiday between December 23 and December 27 gave him his youth back.

“I’m getting along pretty well, honestly, a little bit better than I was expecting just in the season,” said Panchero, who has played in 35 of the Magic’s 42 games. “I was starting to hit a wall at the end of December, right before the holidays and stuff. I could feel my body getting a little tired. Mind you, I get a little tired from all the games. We were starting to get to the point, I felt, where it’s hard to get the same strength, Although you want to. There are a lot of games.

“But we had a little break for the holidays and then just into the new year, I think I took a minute and allowed myself to reset myself mentally and physically. And I think for me the first couple of games of the new year were good.”

Another challenge for Banshiro is dealing with losing regularly for the first time, and he intends to prevent that from being the norm in the long run.

Panchero was a backup quarterback as a freshman on the Seattle O’Dea High School team that won the 2017 Washington state championship. As an O’Dea High School basketball player, the Fighting Irish won the 2019 Class 3A state championship as a sophomore and were shortlisted state finalists as juniors. He opted out of his high school senior season after it was postponed and curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Banshiro had to adjust to losing for the first time in his life with magic. Orlando opened the season losing its first five games and suffered a nine-game losing streak to fall to 5-20. The Magic are now 16-26 after Tuesday’s victory over Portland. Orlando has the fifth worst record in the NBA.

“You certainly won’t get used to it, but learn to deal with it,” Banshiro said. We are learning how to deal with that. We are more competitive. There are a lot of games we lost that we could have won and maybe we should have won. I think that makes us hungrier. We know we are talented. We know we can play with anyone, and we’ve proven it to ourselves and everyone else.

“We still have work. We keep some wins and we get it, we’re there. We just have to be able to do it. And it’s only one game at a time. Don’t worry about what’s coming. Don’t worry about losses in the past. Just one game in.” every-time “.

Orlando Magic forward Paulo Panchero walks to the court prior to the game against the Los Angeles Clippers on December 7, 2022, at the Amway Center in Orlando.

Gary Basing/NBAE via Getty Images

Banshiro’s biggest challenge off the field is adjusting to his growing fame.

This past May, Formula 1 reporter Martin Brundle confused Panchero with Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes at the Miami Grand Prix. But since Panchero was drafted by Orlando, his popularity has increased despite the lack of games on national television this season.

Rhonda Panchero told Andscape her son is still amazed that basketball fans want his autograph on jerseys and other items. Make-A-Wish receiver Braxton Barefoot said before last Saturday’s Warriors-Magic game that his highlight was shaking Banchero’s hand. During a trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico, prior to his first training camp, Panchero said he realized he no longer had the anonymity when some excited young fans shoved him while he was running on a secluded beach at a private resort shouting, “Paolo, oh my God. I can’t believe you.” here! “

“It’s so weird. I’m trying to figure out how to navigate it. Just learn what to say yes, what to say no, just deal with everything,” Banchero said. “Even though I only went to No. 1 a couple of months ago, I still cringe when I see people pulling at my shirt or yelling as they try to get into my car. It really doesn’t make sense to me. A year and a half, two years ago, I was basically living at home.” Regular This seems not so long ago at all because it wasn’t.

“I just turned 20, I’m used to it, but it’s a blessing. It’s not that I don’t like it. It’s just different and I have to learn to adapt to it.”

Banshiro is also used to living alone as a professional athlete outside of work.

Last season, Panshiro was a college freshman who was with his Duke teammates every day. Now he is a young professional athlete and has a lot of free time. Banshiro wasn’t with his family at Thanksgiving for the first time in his life last year. He had a private chef cook Thanksgiving dinner for him and a friend. Banshiro was also alone on Christmas for the first time in his life. He didn’t feel comfortable asking the chef to cook for him that holiday and he didn’t have a Christmas tree.

However, Panchero’s parents and siblings have taken turns visiting him this season in Orlando and on the road. Many family and friends attended Tuesday’s game in Portland, which is about a three-hour drive from Seattle.

“I bought a bunch of gifts. So, I visited my family and my things and watched them open the gifts I got,” Banshiro said. “So, it was a good idea to contact them.”

Mark J. Spears is Andscape’s Senior NBA Writer. He used to be able to dunk on you, but he hasn’t been able to in years and his knees still hurt.

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