The No. 1 overall pick in 2022 had a successful and mostly expected NBA 2K23 Summer League debut in Las Vegas. And it was even more remarkable given that he spent most of the game up against Rockets No. 3 pick Jabari Smith Jr., who was predicted to go first before the draft.
Paolo Banchero’s first touch of the ball occurred in precisely the scenario for which the Orlando Magic selected him.
The offense had collapsed with less than ten seconds remaining in the shot clock. The team asked Banchero to do something after the ball found its way to him. Banchero stopped easing his way in and started attacking after a few possessions. After setting up his shot and performing a pump fake, he got his man in the air. He intervened, received the blow, and drew the foul.
That play strikes as being rather dull due to NBA regulations regarding drawing fouls and leaning into players in the air; it did not even result in free throws.
However, Banchero’s first shooting possession served as an example of his abilities and performance for the remainder of the game.
Banchero was on the attack and creating for himself and others when the light turned on, and it was on a lot. In situations where the clock was running out, he could get the ball, attack the basket, and force fouls. He could strike from outside, and he was able to find available players by dishing.
The Magic intend to use this Summer League to lay the groundwork for their goals for the upcoming campaign. As a 6-foot-10, 250-pound forward, Banchero displayed a wide range of offensive abilities, including shooting from close range and a distance, a good dribble, and excellent court vision. The Magic won 91-77 with 17 points and 6 assists for the game.
From the opening tip, the rookie big man was aggressive, scoring eight points in the first period and 13 by halftime. On the other hand, Smith was more hesitant and finished with 10 points and seven rebounds. The Kings’ No. 4 pick Keegan Murray, coming off a strong Summer League performance in Salt Lake City, will be Banchero’s opponent in his upcoming game on Saturday (4 ET, ESPN).
Smith had a relatively quiet night and even added three assists, but he also had some nice drives to the basket and played good team defense, occasionally matching up with Banchero. The No. 2 overall pick, Chet Holmgren, can attest to how quickly fortunes and performances can change in the Summer League and everything else. However, Banchero’s first Summer League performance was undeniably successful.