Paolo Banchero announces himself with 50-burger at The Crawsover

Paolo Banchero returned home to Seattle and put on a show at the CrawsOver. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Paolo Banchero returned home to Seattle and put on a show at the CrawsOver. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

Paolo Banchero has had a lot going on in the last month. In many ways, the only thing we have not talked about with Bnanchero since he was taken first overall was the basketball.

Sure, there was the two-game cameo he had at Summer League — an impressive run where he scored 40 total points, dished out 12 total assists, had a game-saving block and a game-winning assist in a double-overtime Summer League epic.

That is what everyone wants to talk about. But that is not the story.

The story was the Orlando Magic’s misdirection that landed them Banchero with the top pick in the first place. It was the debate between the top three players in the Draft, an unusually close draft.

It was about how the Magic shut him down after two games when it was clear he still had so much more game left in him as he, admittedly played himself back into shape. It was then about his new reported contract with Jordan Brand.

It is all about the anticipation for that first game so the basketball can come to the foreground once again.

Magic fans have been nothing but excited since that Summer League to see him play. And Banchero was set to deliver.

Making his 2022 debut at the CrawsOver, Banchero was sure to put on a show and remind everyone that he is pretty good at basketball. Only raising the anticipation for his regular-season debut.

Paolo Banchero put on a show, scoring 50 points in his professional debut at the CrawsOver and tantalizing Orlando Magic fans for what is to come.

Paolo Banchero scored 50 points and grabbed nine rebounds playing alongside Chet Holmgren in guiding his team to a win.

This is a pro-am game, so take it with every necessary grain of salt. Nobody was playing much defense as these things go. And Banchero and Holmgren each took their turns trying to put on whatever move they could to score.

They were just really effective at it. Especially Banchero. He put all of his skills on display in a way he did not fully at Summer League.

There were the bullying post-ups that made his Summer League run so successful. He punished smaller defenders at will and finished around the basket.

He was deft with his footwork, spinning past one player for a 360 dunk. Or there was the possession where he froze his defender after picking up his dribble, spinning with his pivot foot until he created the space to shoot over him.

Then there was the athleticism. That 360 dunk off a post move or a windmill dunk in transition. Or when he powered through the lane and put down a two-handed jam that literally rocked the drop-down basket in the Washington University of the Pacific gymnasium.

Or there were the deep 3-pointers he took and made just because he felt like it. There was a clear 35-footer he tried at one point just because he was feeling it.

Or there was the possession where he just drew out an array of dribble moves and kept his defender off balance to set himself up for a jumper.

Banchero is good enough that he had all of this in his bag. And was confident and comfortable enough to show it off. Not only show it off but make it look all so comfortable.

It has been a long time since the Magic have had a player that looked even remotely capable of doing what Banchero did in the course of his 40 minutes in Seattle on Saturday.

Orlando has not had a player score 50 points in an NBA game since Tracy McGrady’s 62-point game back in 2004. Victor Oladipo’s 45-point game against the Cleveland Cavaliers back in March 2016 is the closest the team has come to a 50-point game since Dwight Howard left a decade ago.

This is a franchise starved for the kind of star power that sends the Internet buzzing.

Banchero sent the Internet buzzing throughout Summer League. Even in a game where Jaden McDaniels scored 52 points himself and Chet Holmgren had 34 points, Paolo Banchero was still the talk of the Internet.

He was the talk of the game and its clear star even with everything else going on.

Magic fans have been hungry for this kind of attention. More importantly, after Summer League they were looking for some assurance that what they saw was real.

A summer pro-am game with few NBA players and zero defense is not going to confirm it is real indeed. No one should look at this as some proof positive.

Still, 50 points in any game is hard. It is impressive. And the way Banchero did it, putting all of his skills on display suggests that he can do it as he scales up to the NBA. It is easy to see Banchero having a game where he scores at all three levels and just punishes whatever a defense.

What was shocking was just how replicable this kind of performance could be.

Banchero has all of these skills. Now it is about him developing and the Magic bringing that all out.

Banchero had a comparatively modest Summer League. It was enough to give everyone a taste before the Magic shut him down.

This was Banchero, on a suddenly streaming platform on for the die-hard NBA fans desperate for any basketball in August, on display for the world to see.

Magic fans were already very impressed. This sent them into overdrive.

The rest of the basketball world was bought in too. There just are not many 6-foot-10 players at 250 pounds who simply could do it all as he did Saturday. That is something everyone is now even more eager to see in October when the games start to count.

For what it was. . . this was just fun. Watching Banchero have his way in any way he wanted was just exciting and entertaining.

That is the first time in a long time anyone has been able to say that about a player for the Magic.

Next. Markelle Fultz is the perfect point guard for Paolo Banchero. dark

All anyone wants is to see him play again.