Paolo Banchero Has Good Chance to Do Something Only 12 Rookies Have Ever Done – And They All Won the Rookie of the Year Award

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

ORLANDO - With eight games left on the Orlando Magic’s regular season schedule, Paolo Banchero has thus far accumulated 1,338 points, 446 rebounds and 247 assists.

Just by doing some basic math, there’s a good chance he will end up scoring over 1,450 points, grabbing over 475 rebounds, and dishing out over 250 assists. 

If that were to happen – and of course nothing is guaranteed – the Magic’s versatile forward would become just the 13th rookie to rack up those numbers. 

Not only do those stats signify an extremely impressive first year, but they also should make him a lock to win the Rookie of the Year Award. 

Why, you might be asking? 

Well, it’s quite simple. All 12 of the players that accomplished this were named the Rookie of the Year the season they did it. 

The list, as you’d probably expect, is filled with some legendary players, including Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson, Larry Bird, and Elgin Baylor. The most recent player to do it was Luka Doncic. The others on the list are Sidney Wicks, Alvan Adams, Walter Davis, Chuck Person, Larry Johnson and Blake Griffin. 

Just this alone makes Banchero the easy choice for the honor this season. 

Versatility has been a word thrown around a lot when assessing Banchero’s game. While he hasn’t yet recorded an NBA triple-double, it feels like only a matter of time before that happens – and it wouldn’t at all be surprising if he collects many of them throughout his NBA career. 

Over the past few weeks, the 20-year-old has been filling up the stat sheet regularly. In a win over the Miami Heat on March 11, he finished one assist shy of a triple-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. In Orlando’s victory over the Washington Wizards on March 21, he again came close with 18 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.

Banchero has tallied 15-plus points and five-plus rebounds 43 times this season, more than double of the rookie that’s done it the second most, which is Jabari Smith Jr. 

His playmaking has been a sharper area of his game in recent weeks. He’s registered at least four assists in seven of his last 13 games. 

“You know, I think he's always had that,” Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley said recently about Banchero’s court vision and instincts as a playmaker. “That's the biggest part about his game. He does love to pass the basketball. I think that's his default, is that he wants to find the pass and find his teammates and they trust that he's willing to find them. I think it's great that he was recognizing the things going on in the game. He slowed himself down, recognized the coverages they were in and was able to find that, and on the other side of it, he made shots.”

Banchero is in basketball what they call a five-tool player in baseball. While still in the process of sharpening up each of his skills, he’s able to impact games in an assortment of ways. 

Portland Trail Blazers Head Coach Chauncey Billups kind of insinuated all that prior to a recent game against the Magic when he said, "I’m impressed every time I see him play. He seems to have a ton of confidence out there and he scores at all three levels. Even though he doesn’t shoot a ton of threes, he can make them. He’s just so big. He handles the ball like a point guard, which puts you in a lot of different tough predicaments with him handling and coming off pick-and-rolls with small guys setting it. He’s just so big. He can rebound. He’s just kind of a matchup nightmare.”