Paolo Banchero dazzled everyone who watched him play during the last four days of Summer League.
His array of moves, precision and footwork were on full display. He surprised many with his passing ability and vision. And he made some impressive defensive plays to quiet some concerns about his defensive ability.
To listen to Banchero speak after each of the two games he played in Summer League, he was focused on the areas he could still improve.
He knows exactly what Summer League is. It was his chance to dip his toes into the NBA world, get himself back into playing shape and try out some new things.
He was concerned with his defensive sluggishness after his first game against the Houston Rockets on Thursday and with his turnovers against the Sacramento Kings.
The Orlando Magic were pleased with Paolo Banchero as they shut him down for the Summer League. Their top pick has a lot more to learn before training camp.
Overall, Banchero was pleased with his Summer League. As the team shut him down following two games, Banchero learned a lot and learned he had a lot to work on.
"“I feel I did well,” Banchero said after Monday’s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. “I was happy with the way I played. But there is a lot I can improve on. In the second game, I had a lot of turnovers. Just getting in even better shape. Those were my first two games, so I wanted to build my wind back up. Overall, I did pretty good.”"
In fairness, Banchero scored 17 points to go with six assists in the win over the Rockets but still committed six fouls but also had six deflections according to NBA.com’s hustle stats. Then against the Kings, Banchero scored 23 points to go with six rebounds, six assists, four steals and two blocks but also had eight turnovers, including critical ones down the stretch.
He made up for it with the game-saving block and game-winning assist to win the game. Orlando went 2-0 with Banchero on the floor.
But more importantly, it was clear Banchero was one of the best players in the entire Summer League. The Rockets and Kings both were desperate enough to throw double teams at him to try to get the ball out of his hands.
The action on the court was important for sure. Banchero passed that part.
But the work off the court was just as important. That is the part no one will see until training camp. And perhaps it would have been helpful to see how he responded to a high-turnover game with one more performance.
The Magic had clearly seen enough. Banchero said it was the team’s decision to end his Summer League. He said he wanted to continue playing, but he said he was not going to push back against the team and what they felt was best for him.
The bigger work came after games. Paolo Banchero said he and coach Jamahl Mosley reviewed film after every game as he tries to learn how to read the game and improve.
In the end, Banchero said his time in Vegas helped him as a player. Undoubtedly it showed the league just how good he can be.
With all eyes on him, Banchero more than stepped up to the plate. What was perhaps most impressive about Banchero was how he consistently played at his own pace even through all the attention and pressure that comes with being the No. 1 pick.
But there is still work to do.
"“It never affects the way I think I play basketball,” Banchero said after Monday’s loss. “It’s all the other stuff. I have to be sharp and on point all the time. It’s something I have to continue to get used to. A year and a half ago I was in high school and I wasn’t used to that. Now it’s different. I just have to adjust.”"
There is still a lot to learn though.
The regular season and training camp are not Summer League. There is a step up in competition that Banchero will go through. It will be a new challenge.
On one hand, Banchero will have better teammates to pass to and soak up attention. That will give him more space to attack and easier passing lanes to find teammates. If his passing translates, he will have a lot more options.
On the other hand, individual defenders will also improve and Banchero will likely not be able to bully his way through the post as he did through most of Summer League.
It is indeed going to be a new challenge.
Banchero got a lot out of his Summer League though. He was a dominant scorer who was exploring his ability to attack. He was a force that demanded attention every time he touched the ball. He found his defensive footing at times too.
The next step is to learn it all over again when camp begins in late September.