The season Paolo Banchero completed at Duke was a wild one.
There was a ton of pressure and attention placed on him and on that season with coach Mike Krzyzeski announcing it would be his last before the season even began. That only doubled the pressure and attention on a Duke basketball program that always has a ton of attention on it.
You do not go to Duke to hide from the spotlight.
The most impressive thing to many though was how Banchero seemed to handle all that attention. How he seemed to keep an even keel and stay on his level. That is just how he is.
The NBA Summer League is not the same level of attention. But there are going to be a lot of eyes on Banchero and the Orlando Magic when they tip off their Summer League on Thursday.
Summer League has become an event itself — more than just an NBA convention and gathering — and fans are lining up for this debut game. It should be a full house at the Thomas & Mack Center.
It is a lot of pressure for a game that actually has very little meaning.
The Orlando Magic are preparing to begin Summer League with the top overall pick. The pressure is on Paolo Banchero to perform, but the Magic just want to focus on the simple things.
But this is nothing new for Banchero. That might be one of the things that is so attractive about Banchero. He knows how to handle the attention and just play through it.
Everyone is eager to see what he can do. Banchero is just eager to play.
"“Whether I have a great game or a bad game, I’m never going to get too high or never going to get too low,” Banchero said after practice Wednesday. “I hold myself to high standards. In my head, it’s just me vs. me. I’m not worried about what other people are doing. I’m not worried about what other people think. It’s just how I see myself and whether I’m happy with how I played or not.”"
This is Summer League though. No one should be reading too much into anything that happens — good or bad.
That might be the one area where Banchero has an advantage. He is not going to let anything get to him.
And that is the most important thing in Summer League. Games where everything is made up and the points don’t matter.
That is probably a bit unfair. But the least important thing that happens during a Summer League game is the box score and the final count. Not that winning is not important.
Summer league is full of contradictions. But the important thing that happens during Summer League is the basics.
The team is working on its foundations and trying to give their young players a head start for the fall and training camp.
That is really the only thing that matters.
So what really counts now is keeping things simple and building things up for the fall. That is the Magic’s goal for the next week.
"“There’s always so many things as a coach you want to try to add, get in there and prepare them for things that they are going to see,” Magic assistant coach Jesse Mermuys said after practice Wednesday. “In Summer League, less is more. You want to keep it very simple. We want to play as a team, we want to play hard defense. All the fundamentals that coach Mose has established here, all we want to do is try to execute those things.”"
This Summer League is indeed all about the simple things. It is indeed all about the basics of what the Magic want to do and nothing more.
The Magic are trying to build their foundations now. So the success of this Summer League team will be about getting players like Banchero comfortable. It is about doing the basic things well.
If there ever was a time and a place for the old saying, “process over results,” to ring true, it is during Summer League. Sure, the Magic would like to see some big games from Banchero and for the team to win some games, but that is not the end goal.
This is about the Magic working on themselves and building their foundation for the fall.
"“It’s definitely more about us,” Mermuys said after practice Wednesday. “Gameplanning is: Are we playing team defense? Are we sticking to our principles that Mose wants? Are we sharing the basketball? Are we playing with pace? It is more about us.”"
So the Magic will do their work. The team will give its young players the exposure they need and the opportunities they need as they prepare for the fall.
There is still things that need to get done and accomplished.
But they are the simple things — not the complex ones. It doe snot matter if Banchero averages 20 per game in Summer League. It is just Summer League.
What matters is that he and his teammates are doing the right things. What matters is whether they are playing with energy, speed and force and doing the right things. The basic things that this Magic team builds itself on.
For Banchero, this will not be anything like his last days at Duke. Nor will this be like his first regular-season game in the fall.
Still, there is a lot of attention. Banchero though is eager to get back onto the court.
"“Draft night, that’s where your’e going,” Banchero said after practice Wednesday. “After that, it kind of hit me. Now I feel like I’m pretty settled in with the guys, coaches and staff and everything. It hasn’t been too much lately. I feel like I’m pretty locked in right now.”"
Time will tell if this is the case — or even what that looks like.
What we do know is Summer League has its limitations. It is more about the basics and those fundamentals than anything else. And that is what the Magic want to see.