Paolo Banchero Instantly Makes the Orlando Magic a More Formidable Offensive Team

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

BROOKLYN - The Orlando Magic have advanced past the first round of the playoffs five times in franchise history. In each of those seasons, they ranked in the top 10 in scoring. In all but one of them, they ranked in the top six.

Why is this relevant, you may be wondering? 

The Magic were 29th in scoring each of the last two seasons. They’ve been in the bottom 10 in this category in 10 of the last 11 years. Only three times in this period has Orlando reached the playoffs – and in all three they lost in the first round in a gentleman’s sweep.

Here’s the bottom line:

The only way the Magic are going to make major progress is if they become a more potent offensive team. 

By selecting Paolo Banchero, arguably the best offensive talent in this year’s draft, they took a major step forward in doing just that. 

Maybe, just maybe, the 6-foot-10, 250-pounder will be the Magic’s most dynamic scorer since Tracy McGrady. He, undoubtedly, has all the potential in the world to be that. He possesses the perfect blend of power and finesse. His footwork is advanced for a 19-year-old. He’s a mismatch nightmare for just about any opponent because of his physical tools and skill level. 

He’s the total offensive package.

Perhaps most important is that he’s going to make everyone around him better in Orlando. That’s what he did during his freshman campaign at Duke. He was a big reason A.J. Griffin shot nearly 45 percent from 3-point range. He was a big reason why Wendell Moore Jr. went from shooting 30 percent from downtown his sophomore year to 41.3 percent his junior year. He was a big reason why Mark Williams shot 72 percent from the field. 

The attention he commands opens more space for his teammates. 

Second-to-last in points, third-to-last in 3-point percentage, and fifth-to-last in turnovers in 2021-22, the Magic are going to greatly benefit having Banchero around. Expect much of Orlando’s offense to run through him – in isolation, pick-and-roll, transition and down in the post. 

As far as Banchero’s shooting touch, it was good in college, but will need to get better. He is a legit three-level scorer, though. Nearly 26 percent of his shots came at the rim; 23 percent were short-range twos; 13 percent were mid-range twos; 12 percent were long-range twos; 18 percent were short-range threes; and seven percent were long-range threes. That’s excellent balance. 

You’re probably wondering who Banchero might play like at the next level. Some of his comps include Sacramento Kings Chris Webber and Detroit Pistons Blake Griffin – big, strong, and versatile point forwards. 

A case could be made, though, that he’s a bit more like Denver Nuggets/New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony or current Jayson Tatum, who just led the Boston Celtics to the NBA Finals.

Quite interesting, Banchero’s stats at Duke were a little like Anthony’s during his one season at Syracuse. Both shot just a shade under 34 percent from 3-point distance. Both averaged just a little over two turnovers. Banchero shot a little higher from the field overall, while Anthony averaged more free throws. But across the board, the numbers were similar, as was the impact they each made for their respective colleges. Anthony led the Orange to a national title in 2003, while Banchero just guided the Blue Devils to the Final Four. 

It remains to be seen what the new Magic forward can do defensively at the next level. With his size and strength, he should be able to hang with many at his position. The big question is how he will fare when switched onto speedsters on the perimeter. Even if this doesn’t become one of his main strengths, the Magic have others already on the roster who excel at that – notably Franz Wagner, Jonathan Isaac, Wendell Carter Jr. and Chuma Okeke. 

If he does transform into a lockdown defender while realizing his full potential offensively, Banchero could very well be one of the league’s top players in a few years – and that’s precisely what you’d expect with a No. 1 overall draft pick.

Read more about his strengths and weaknesses here.