Rising Stars Game will showcase Paolo Banchero to national audience

Feb 3, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero (5) controls the ball against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the first quarter at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 3, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero (5) controls the ball against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the first quarter at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports /

The NBA has a national TV problem, shown most evidently by this season’s handling of the Orlando Magic and the number 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero.

The Magic’s lone national TV game was pulled from the schedule after the injury to Chet Holmgren. But even the Oklahoma City Thunder have gotten a few national TV games back. Meanwhile, the Magic toil in anonymity.

Put simply, the NBA simply has not showcased Banchero to a national audience, something unexplainable if you look through NBA history.

At the risk of sounding bitter, the New Orleans Pelicans played 30 national TV games in Zion Williamson’s rookie season. Williamson was deemed a bigger star at the time than many assumed Banchero would be, but he also played only 24 games in his rookie year. He still seems to bank multiple national TV games for the Pelicans.

But as it looks right now the NBA made a big mistake in their scheduling passing on Banchero and his historical rookie season.

The Orlando Magic are toiling in anonymity without any national TV games. The Rising Stars Game is Paolo Banchero’s chance to announce himself to a national audience.

From night one against the Detroit Pistons, Banchero hit the ground running and even added his first poster dunk for good measure. He has been the best player for the Orlando Magic this season and has only been playing some of the best ball we have seen from a rookie in recent memory. There was even an argument for him being in the All-Star conversation.

Before his recent mini-slump, Banchero was on pace to average the most points per game by a rookie since Blake Griffin in 2011. With his recent scoring drop, Paolo Banchero’s 19.9 points per game slots right behind Luka Doncic’s rookie numbers.

So one of the biggest budding stars, coming into the league after playing for Duke, and netting historical numbers nightly has become a household name right?

Not so fast. If a fan relies solely on TNT and ESPN broadcasts they have yet to see Paolo Banchero play a game. The Orlando Magic’s lone TNT game was flexed (to the Chicago Bulls!?!) a few months back due to Chet Holmgren’s injury.

By the end of the season, the Magic will have played three national TV games, all on NBA TV — and no one really considers those proper national TV games.

For the super NBA fans, the League Pass junkies, Banchero’s success is widely known. The Magic have become League Pass darlings among NBA Twitter because of Paolo Banchero along with the play from Franz Wagner and the emergence of Bol Bol. The Magic are the team for obsessive NBA fans.

But for the casuals, who turn on the NBA after football ends group, Banchero is known simply by box scores and headlines. If they even see that at all. The Magic, after all, are still on the periphery of the Play-In chase.

To flip this mini-rant into a positive, this weekend Banchero will be playing his first national TV game since summer league in the Rising Stars Game.

Even better, quite possibly the two best players of each of the last two drafts will get some time in the spotlight as Paolo competes alongside Franz Wagner.

After being selected for the game, Banchero and Wagner were the first two players drafted from the player pool as part of the new tournament format. This year there will be three teams comprised of young NBA players to go along with one G-League team for this event, featuring potential No. 2 overall pick Scoot Henderson.

It was also recently announced Banchero will be competing in the Kia Skills Challenge with fellow rookies Jabari Smith Jr. and Jaden Ivey.

Going into this All-Star break the Orlando Magic are four full games back of the 10-seed Washington Wizards, right in the middle of competing for the play-in or a top spot in the lottery

It has been an up-and-down couple of weeks for Magic fans. But the Rising Stars game is a chance to sit back and enjoy the young talent that is growing in Orlando.

It is not that the Magic need acknowledgment and acceptance from a national audience, but being a part of the general overall discourse is a good place to be.

If this weekend and the rest of the season goes as planned, this season will be the last that the Magic and Paolo Banchero are out of the national spotlight.

There is a world where Banchero shows his stardom at All-Star Weekend, the Magic go on a run the remainder of the season, and find themselves in the play-in.

Doing right by players will help Orlando Magic. dark. Next

The best way to get on national TV as a small market franchise is to be so good that the NBA doesn’t have a choice.

Those days are right around the corner here in Orlando.