Paolo Banchero: Orlando Magic’s new offensive engine

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Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic surprised much of the NBA by taking Paolo Banchero from Duke. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

Paolo Banchero is now the face of the Orlando Magic.

An anonymous franchise for the better part of a decade now has a clear face and someone who will command that national attention.

Orlando has amassed delightful auxiliary pieces with Franz Wagner, Markelle Fultz, Wendell Carter and Jalen Suggs. Now, they have their engine.

What makes Banchero successful? How will the Magic use him? Those are the questions that will drive a lot of the offseason conversation and planning from coach Jamahl Mosley. Mosley said the team does not run a lot of pure sets, relying on players reading and reacting to the defense to find advantages.

The Magic will learn what they can from how Duke used him in college while also looking to unlock new ways for him to play.

The Orlando Magic added a centerpiece player in Paolo Banchero. Now the team has to unlock the best way to use him as they grow their team.

Banchero carried a heavy pedigree heading into his freshman season ranking No. 2 in RSCI (Recruiting Services Consensus Index). He responded by leading Duke to the Final Four, by being named a Second Team All-American and by becoming one of two freshmen in the history of NCAA basketball to have 600 points, 300 rebounds and 100 assists.

The Other? Former first overall pick Ben Simmons.

Duke had five players selected in the first 42 picks of the 2022 NBA Draft. Banchero quickly rose to the top of this talent-packed, but relatively ill-fitting group. He carried a heavy offensive burden leading the team in field goal attempts with 13.2 per game (Trevor Keels was second with 9.6 per game) and a usage rate of 27.5-percent.

Banchero’s empty-the-clip mentality was distinct from the opening tip.

When you play him, you feel him. Every possession. Compared to other jumbo-ball handling wings— Ben Simmons, LeBron James, Luka Doncic — he possesses a more score-first mentality.