It did not take long for the Orlando Magic to welcome Paolo Banchero. It never takes long in this world of social media.
There were the initial round of texts welcoming Banchero to the team. R.J. Hampton was in the gym working out at the Amway Center during the draft and got the call quickly from their shared agent, Mike Miller, telling him the good news. R.J. Hampton was there when Banchero arrived in the Amway Center the next day — as was Jalen Suggs and Chuma Okeke.
As always, Cole Anthony was the one making the official introduction — most notably with a tweet of Banchero from middle school.
Banchero said the day after the draft he has no clue where Anthony would have found that photo. He was not even sure he remembered when the photo was taken.
That just goes to show the youth on this team. They are going to have fun and needle each other off the court. They are good-natured and looking for ways to have fun together.
What the Magic are hopeful is what came out a few days later when Banchero was back in New York. Anthony and Banchero worked out together at a gym in New York, giving a glimpse of what it will be like when they get in the gym later this offseason and into training camp.
More importantly, Anthony was going through some of the reads Banchero will surely see when he takes the floor in the fall. Every moment is valuable.
"“I’ve known Cole a little bit since I was a freshman in high school just through camps and AAU circuit,” Banchero said after practice Sunday. “Now that we’re on the same team, Cole is a real loud guy, always talking, a great teammate. When we worked out it was the same way. We did a little bit of actions together. It was a great workout overall.”"
It was a short workout. There will be more work to come. But that was the on-court introduction for two of the Magic’s key players. Banchero will meet everyone else very soon. Some of them are sure to roll through Las Vegas in the next week for Summer League.
But it is the beginning of the building for the Magic. Orlando’s young players have that work ethic and that camaraderie and they are starting to welcome rookies Paolo Banchero and Caleb Houstan into the fold.
The Orlando Magic are a tight-knit young team. This Summer League is about welcoming Paolo Banchero and Caleb Houstan to that brotherhood. The work is already beginning.
Judging by how easily the Magic seem to gel together off the court and their work ethic on the court, it sounds like it will be a seamless transition.
That process already began in that gym in New York as much as it has begun on the practice court at Amway Center. And it will continue in Vegas.
Wendell Carter already jumped in for the Magic’s Summer League practice Tuesday, according to Dan Savage of OrlandoMagic.com, as he got his first taste of playing alongside Banchero. He said he plans to be in Vegas for at least a few of the Magic’s games.
The Magic do not have their two second-year players on their Summer League roster, but it is still stock with roster and Summer League veterans.
R.J. Hampton, Devin Cannady and Admiral Schofield (added to the roster after signing a two-way qualifying offer last week) are serving as veteran guides for Paolo Banchero and this young Magic squad as they prepare to do their work this season.
"“Just Admiral, Devin, R.J. so far, just have been real talkative with me so far,” Banchero said after Sunday’s practice. “We’ve been having great communication. They have been walking me through stuff. The physicality, they have been telling me how you can use your body in the NBA. That’s the biggest thing they have been helping me with.”"
At the end of the day, everyone understands just how good someone like Banchero can be. And they all understand that Summer League is not the end goal. Everyone knows that everything they do on the court in Vegas is building toward training camp and eventually the season.
As everyone understands, Summer League performance is not ultimately indicative of regular-season success. This is about helping young players like Banchero dip their toes in the water and get comfortable with the NBA game.
That is what was clear from the way the Magic talked about and worked with Banchero during his early practices. Orlando is trying to unlock so much more in him and other players on the team.
Getting comfortable not just on the court but off is important too. Orlando is trying to build a brotherhood as much as anything else. And this team is incredibly tight.
In this modern world, many of the players who reach the NBA know each other beforehand from the AAU circuit and other travel basketball opportunities. The top prospects have been playing with and competing against each other for a long time.
Most of these players know each other and that trust is already built in the process of getting to the league.
Banchero said he met Hampton in high school when they played in a Team USA camp around 2019. They have maintained some contact since then beyond their connection through their agency.
He also said he has spoken briefly to Carter before through their connection at Duke, something Carter himself has called “the brotherhood” from their alma mater. The Magic are certainly trying to build something similar.
Everyone is still getting to meet the Magic’s top overall pick.
It starts with that off-court trust and builds to on-court trust. The kind of trust where even young veterans like Hampton are able to let Banchero know what is coming down the road, keeping his and the team’s eye on the bigger goals ahead.
The Magic are trying to build a team that is together on all fronts. They are happy to see all these elements come together. They will surely be eager to see them continue to tie together through Summer League and the rest of the offseason.
That culture and that brotherhood are still in their developing stages. But the bricks are getting laid in these sessions.