5 Interesting Things We Learned About Paolo Banchero in 2022-23 Season

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

He’s Elite Getting to the Free Throw Line

Paolo Banchero averaged 7.4 free throw attempts during his rookie NBA season, 12th most in the league. It was just the fourth time since 1998 that a first-year player averaged over seven foul shots, with Blake Griffin, Joel Embiid and Zion Williamson being the others to do it in this timeframe. Banchero took 10-plus free throws in 16 of his 72 games. He made 73.8 percent of his attempts at the stripe for the season.

He's a Much Better Defender Than Originally Advertised

Banchero had success guarding some of the game’s top players throughout the year. Per Second Spectrum: Jayson Tatum shot 5-of-15 when Banchero was the closest defender; Julius Randle 6-of-17, Paul George 1-of-5, Kawhi Leonard 2-of-8; Dejounte Murray 2-of-9; and Trae Young 3-of-9. The Magic, as a team, made substantial progress defensively as the season went on. After the All-Star break, they ranked No. 2 in the league in opponent points in the paint. 

He’s Not Afraid of the Pressure Moments

Down the stretch of several close games, the ball was put in the hands of the eventual Rookie of the Year, and he often delivered in those situations. One example was on Feb. 27 in New Orleans. The game tied with under five minutes remaining, Banchero made three consecutive mid-range jumpers to shift momentum back into Orlando’s corner. Two months earlier in the second of two straight wins in Boston, he drilled a go-ahead 3-pointer with three minutes and change left. 

He's Position-less 

The Magic are one of the most versatile teams in the league. Opponents often said they were a tough team to play against, largely for that reason. Among their most versatile players is Banchero, who juggled a variety of roles throughout the year. Early in the season, when Orlando was shorthanded in the backcourt because of injuries, he played some point guard. There were times later in the year that he played center. He just has a great feel for the game, which helps him adapt on the fly. 

Perimeter Shooting Will Be Key Development Focus 

Banchero’s main weakness his rookie year was his outside shooting. He shot 29.8 percent from 3-point range on 285 attempts. In February, he made just one of his 33 3-point tries. He did get hot late in the year, though, which should give him some added confidence. In his final 12 games of the season, he shot 39 percent from beyond the arc. For the season, he shot 33.8 percent on catch-and-shoot threes and 26.2 percent on pull-up threes. 

Paolo Banchero's Rookie of the Year Ceremony