ORLANDO - Although the Orlando Magic have struggled offensively in the early portion of the season, the chemistry between forwards Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner has been strong.
Not only has that been glaring just by watching them on the floor together, but the stats back it up as well.
Banchero’s shooting numbers are way higher than his season averages when Wagner is involved in the play.
One of only seven players in NBA history to score 20-plus points in his first five NBA games after erupting for a career-best 29 in Cleveland on Wednesday, Banchero has made nine of his 18 shot attempts (50 percent) when Wagner has delivered the pass to him.
Also, the 19-year-old is a perfect 3-of-3 from the field when his shot followed a Wagner on-ball pick, per Second Spectrum tracking data.
It’s much of the same vice versa.
Wagner, who scored a season-best 22 points against the Cavs, has connected on 10 of his 19 shots (52.6 percent) when Banchero has passed him the ball. Additionally, he’s made eight of 13 shots when taken after a Banchero on-ball pick, per Second Spectrum.
Both being extremely versatile helps. Plus, they share the same goals and are both natural leaders.
“He’s a very impressive (player),” Wagner said of Banchero. “His poise, his talent and skillset are very obvious, but he gives us a lot of confidence and energy to the rest of the group. To have that kind of leadership so early I think is very impressive. Our chemistry is going to continue to get better. Obviously, we want to win games. We don’t just want to be close in all these games.”
The tallest team in the league based on each player’s listed height, the Magic rely on Banchero and Wagner’s size and length to create matchup problems for opponents. It’s quite unusual for a team to feature a pair of 6-foot-10 guys capable of handling the ball, creating their own shots, and orchestrating for others while guarding multiple positions on the other end.
As impressed as Wagner is of Banchero, the same is true the other way around. Banchero believes the sky’s the limit for the 21-year-old German.
“He’s a great player, he’s a great person, great teammate,” Banchero said of Wagner. “We have the same kind of I think view on where we want to this team to be, just how we see each other playing together. I think we just clicked right away. Just building that chemistry on the court, building it off the court. It’s something we are working on and something we are going to keep building.”