Paolo Banchero is learning from all the best forwards so far

Paolo Banchero is already establishing himself as one of the best young players in the league as the Orlando Magic climbed into the postseason chase. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Paolo Banchero is already establishing himself as one of the best young players in the league as the Orlando Magic climbed into the postseason chase. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

Paolo Banchero had one of the most historic rookie seasons in NBA history, even if no one is really talking about it enough.

He became only the seventh rookie since the 2009 season to average 20.0 points per game or more. He became the fourth rookie to average at least 5.0 free throw attempts per game since Allen Iverson did it in the 1997 season.

Banchero was the near-unanimous Rookie of the Year winner. And he became this year’s rookie addition, alongside Walker Kessler, to the U.S.A. basketball program as he prepares to help the team compete at the FIBA World Cup in the Philippines.

Everything he has done has pointed toward an extremely bright future. And so much of the excitement for this Magic season is about what everyone believes he will become. And become very quickly.

All of the Magic’s postseason hopes certainly rest on how far Banchero can take them. It will obviously be a process for this team. But it starts with what the team can do this year.

Paolo Banchero is coming off a strong rookie season. But he is not resting. He has been spotted working out with some of the best players in the league as he tries to join the elite forward fraternity.

Of course, Banchero is not taking any of this for granted. The great ones never do. That work is what helped him become the top overall pick and eventually the rookie of the year. And that is what Banchero is about too.

This has been a summer of learning that work. And Banchero has been learning from the best.

On Banchero’s Instagram account over the weekend, he posted a photo from a gym in St. Louis and tagged Jayson Tatum in it, certainly suggesting Banchero worked out with the fellow Duke alum over the weekend.

The relationship between Banchero and Tatum is notably pretty close.

Tatum shared kind words about Banchero after their first meeting in Orlando early in the season. And the two seemed to set up a budding friendship and friendly rivalry — with Tatum notably demanding to guard Banchero during overtime of that first game at Amway Center.

Banchero wears Jordan brand Tatum shoes — including the famous Huevos Bancheros shoes — and the Duke family does run deep.

The bigger thing is that Banchero, a 6-foot-10 behemoth of a perimeter attacker — is learning from one of the best swing forwards in the league. Tatum at 6-foot-8 is one of the bigger attackers in the league, able to work the post with his size just as well as he can hit pull-up jumpers.

There were a lot of comparisons made during the draft process between the two players — and not just because they were both from Duke. They have a similar skill set and play style. There is a lot Banchero can certainly learn from Tatum.

Players working out with each other is not too uncommon these days. And a lot of these veteran players give back to the game by working with the younger generation.

If there is a sign Banchero is viewed as a big part of the future of this team, just look at how all the best players in the league talk about him. And how many of them want to get in the gym with him and pass on their information.

And so the biggest of these workouts — no matter how brief they might be — was revealed Thursday.

Swish Culture posted a video of Paolo Banchero working out with his agent Mike Miller, trainer Adam Harrington and Phoenix Suns superstar Kevin Durant.

That is indeed Paolo Banchero learning the one-legged Dirk Nowitzki stepback that Kevin Durant uses so effectively.

Banchero connected with Durant after the Magic’s first game against the Nets. He had 24 points in an early season game against Brooklyn at Barclays Center leading to Durant signing his jersey and gifting it to the rookie — for the record, Banchero averaged 24.3 points per game in four games against the Celtics this year, including a 31-point effort in Boston (while Tatum was out to celebrate his son’s birthday).

Banchero had several of these pinch-me moments that every young player goes through as they establish themselves in the league. At All-Star Weekend, Paolo Banchero recalled being invited over to meet with Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant and the duo welcoming him into that club of big playmaking forwards.

Going to workout with these players and soak up some knowledge is the clear next step for him as he prepares for his second season.

You are not going to master these moves in one practice session. But what these sessions certainly teach a player like Banchero is the thought processes and repetition that are necessary to master these moves. Getting to pick the brain of these players and seeing how elite players work will inform Banchero about the way he needs to work if he wants to get to their level.

And to be sure, Banchero is a player capable of getting there. They all sense that and that is why they are all working together.

Having an agent as well connected as Miller helps too as he surely had some hand in arranging some of these workouts and giving his client the best opportunity to work and improve — Miller is known for getting into workouts with Banchero and his clients too as one of the pluses of having him as an agent.

Banchero has been all over the place all summer already — from taking a trip to Italy to heading back home to Seattle to doing his work in Orlando in addition to these workouts. He still has a lot more to do this offseason too.

Banchero appears set to play in the CrawsOver in Seattle this weekend. But he will join U.S.A. Basketball for their training camp starting Aug. 3 (next Thursday) as they prepare for the FIBA World Cup in the Philippines at the end of the month.

The Magic, their fans and the larger NBA world are going to get to see just how much better Banchero has gotten well before the team starts the season. The World Cup is a big opportunity for him and he should play some role on the team, even if he does not earn a starting spot.

And this will happen with Jamahl Mosley at least in the same gym working with the Select Team that helps Team U.S.A. prepare for the World Cup.

Next. Orlando Magic have all the elements of a team on the precipice. dark

Banchero has had a busy summer. Hopefully, he has learned a lot and can show it quickly.