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Paolo Banchero leads way as rookies deliver in NBA debuts

A throng of rookies made their NBA debuts on Wednesday, led by a strong showing from No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero.

Rookie Paolo Banchero did not disappoint in his regular-season debut with the Magic.

Wednesday night was the first “full” night of games in the NBA, with 24 of the league’s 30 teams in action. In addition to that, 22 rookies logged their first NBA minutes with several of the top picks from the 2022 Draft class enjoying standout performances.

Below is a quick look at some standout showings from this season’s rookies in their respective NBA debuts:

Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic

Go behind the scenes as No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero hits the court for his NBA debut.

Banchero’s stats: 27 points (11-18 FG), nine rebounds, five assists, two blocks in 35 minutes

The result: 113-109 road loss vs. Detroit

The No. 1 overall pick joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James as No. 1 picks since 1969 to have at least 25 points, five rebounds and five assists in an NBA debut. “He’s going to be a problem in our league for a long time,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said.

Jabari Smith Jr., Houston Rockets

Jabari Smith Jr. drops the triple for his first NBA field goal.

Smith’s stats: 17 points (6-17 FG, 3-11 3-pt FG), seven rebounds, one assist in 33 minutes

The result: 117-107 road loss vs. Atlanta

Smith, the No. 3 overall pick, was part of a youthful Houston starting lineup that included last year’s top pick, Jalen Green, and fellow youngster Kevin Porter Jr. “We were disjointed a little bit,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas said. ”But I loved our fight, I loved our competitiveness.”

Jaden Ivey & Jalen Duren, Detroit Pistons

Jaden Ivey gets his first NBA basket on a dime from Cade Cunningham.

Ivey’s stats: 19 points (8-15 FG, 2-4 3-pt FG), three rebounds, four assists, three steals in 31 minutes

Duren’s stats: 14 points (7-for 13 FG), 10 rebounds, one assist, three blocks in 22 minutes

The result: 113-109 home win vs. Orlando

In their NBA debuts, Ivey (the No. 5 pick) and Duren (No. 13) showed why they are both an integral part of the team’s future. “He’s a freak,” Ivey said of Duren. “He’s has a strong build and is very athletic. He played comfortable.” Ivey looked at ease on the court, too, and wasn’t surprised that he was able to dribble and drive past the Magic.

Bennedict Mathurin, Indiana Pacers

Bennedict Mathurin scores 19 points in his debut vs. Wizards.

Mathurin’s stats: 19 points (7-15 FG, 3-7 3-pt FG), seven rebounds, two assists, two steals in 28 minutes

The result: 114-107 home loss vs. Washington

The No. 6 overall pick in June’s draft made four of his first six shots, including two 3-pointers, in the first half, scoring 12 points and grabbing four rebounds. “He’s going to learn a lot,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “Look, this is Ben’s first game and he has tools that really nobody else on this team has.”

Shaedon Sharpe, Portland Trail Blazers

Rookie Shaedon Sharpe was a key contributor in Portland’s season-opening win.

Sharpe’s stats: 12 points (4-6 FG, 3-3 3-pt FG), two rebounds, one assist in 16 minutes

The result: 115-108 road win vs. Sacramento

Sharpe was selected seventh overall in the draft despite not playing last season at Kentucky. He came up with a key 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter and also had an assist on another 3-pointer as Portland’s bench held firm to open the quarter and seal a victory.

Walker Kessler, Utah Jazz

Jazz rookie big man Walker Kessler delivered off the bench in his NBA debut.

Kessler’s stats: 12 points (5-5 FG), 10 rebounds, one assist, one steal in 24 minutes

The result: 123-102 home win vs. Denver

Kessler, the No. 22 pick, was one of several players the Jazz acquired from Minnesota in the Rudy Gobert trade. He couldn’t have asked for a better debut, especially considering he was part of a Utah frontline working to slow down reigning two-time Kia MVP Nikola Jokic. He showed toughness on the glass and did not miss a shot all game.

> Wednesday’s rookie leaderboard | Kia Rookie Ladder | 2022 Draft

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.