Some of them are small things — like the development of young players and how the team will fill out the roster. Some of them are theoretical things — like the way the team was playing and how that might translate to the regular season.
But the big thing was the big thing. Nobody could avoid talking about it and nobody could avoid understanding its importance was Paolo Banchero.
This Summer League was all about him. And shutting him down early was a disappointment because it ended the most important part of the team’s summer run seemingly prematurely.
Banchero gave the Magic everything they could hope for. If there was a sign that Orlando’s Summer League was successful it is that everyone wants more Banchero.
The excitement in Orlando is palpable.
But the excitement of potentially having a star again — a real star — comes with its own special pressures. Once a team identifies and establishes a star, their clock to compete starts ticking. The sooner the team understands and realizes it has a star, the more time it has to build that team — especially while the player is on a cheap rookie contract.
The Orlando Magic’s clock to begin competing is ticking as Paolo Banchero looks to be the star the franchise has been searching for. But it will take patience and precision to build the right way.
The clock is already ticking. But that does not mean the Magic should be rushing to make a move to solidify their roster. They still need patience and to have a careful understanding of what they are trying to build.
To say the least, a lot of people around the league think the Magic have their star. The question now is how does the team orient itself around this star and how does the team build from there.
No one probably put this question in clearer terms than Draymond Green on his podcast after leaving Summer League in Las Vegas:
"“Paolo Banchero is one of the ones,” Green said on his podcast. “The reason I think Paolo is one of them guys is because of the things that he did on the basketball court that weren’t scoring. Yes, he did all the things with the basketball. Yes, he made the plays. The plays he made that did not involve him having the basketball is the reason why I think he is one of the guys. Him getting on teammates coming in as a rookie. The winning plays he was making down the stretch.“When’s the last time we saw the Orlando Magic compete and win games like they were competing to win games when Paolo was out there on the court? I hope that organization is ready for that player. Because that player is a winner, that player he cares.”"
Do not get it twisted. Green is not talking about winning run-of-the-mill regular season games or making playoff cameos. Green, like most players on the Golden State Warriors, is talking about winning championships.
That is the kind of player Green and the rest of the NBA seem to envision when they look at Banchero. And Green’s warning is a fair one to levy.
Green went on to say that it is often the organization that fails to develop star players. It is not for lack of talent that a top pick washes out. It is sometimes — a lot of times — the organization failing to provide stability and a growth environment to that player.
He would know too. Andrew Wiggins entered the league as a can’t-miss prospect who put up good numbers but largely floundered with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Minnesota’s struggles to make the playoffs and build a consistent team since trading Kevin Garnett is a cautionary tale for all rebuilding teams. They squandered high draft picks and cycled through coaches so much they never established a culture.
Even their one time pushing their chips to the center of the table ended in disaster with the team unprepared for the pressures Tom Thibodeau and Jimmy Butler would put on the team. They got a single playoff appearance before their lack of organizational culture blew up on them again.
The Wolves traded Wiggins to the Warriors and he transformed into a solid starter — an All-Star starter — for them as they returned to the NBA Finals and won a championship.
Wiggins is the perfect example of how a talented player can get lost in a poor organization. And how even pushing the chips in too quickly can harm his development.
The Magic have painstakingly worked in the last year to rebuild their organizational culture with Jamahl Mosley. They wanted to create an atmosphere where players work hard together. The question for the Magic is how the team will respond when they start looking toward winning.
This upcoming season is probably about figuring that part out and creating a concrete plan to move forward. This is very much a proof of concept season — as much to prove what Banchero can do as a rookie than anything else.
The team needs the patience to see that through and that is likely why the team will not get involved in any major trades. It is probably one of the reasons the Magic stayed fairly pat. They want to give their players the chance to figure things out together and they want the chance to see what they have.
That starts obviously with a player like Banchero.
Orlando got a glimpse of what he can do and did plenty of experimenting with him during the team’s Summer League run. But the team will be exploring his game further with the main roster during the season.
The Magic are not about to jump the gun though. The team needs to see and explore his game on the court before taking things to the next step and building the roster up around him.
That baseline will reveal what the Magic need to do next and how they need to build around their burgeoning young star.
Undoubtedly, the pressure is on.
That clock is always ticking. And especially taking advantage of a player on his rookie contract is critical to team-building success.
Green is right that the pressure is on the Magic to get it right and develop Banchero. They need to figure out who he is and build the right team around him to emphasize his skills and help him grow. Doing that will take some patience, but it will also mean moving boldly when that time comes.
Orlando needs to have the patience to see what Banchero will become when he is on the floor. And then they will need to more decisively and precisely to build around him and give him and this team the best chance to succeed.