3 surprising Orlando Magic starts to start the season
Paolo Banchero 16.0 points per game (12.5 ppg before the Utah game)
This section could have been a lot more serious if it were not for Thursday’s 30-point explosion on 9-for-13 shooting and 11-for-15 shooting from the free throw line.
As much of the Orlando Magic community was discussing before the game, Banchero’s numbers had taken a serious dip and his shooting had gone ice cold.
We all kind of knew he would be fine, but it was just worth noting. So let us just look at things now as a whole.
Last season, Banchero averaged 20.0 points per game on 42.7 percent shooting on his way to winning Rookie of the Year. He had no trouble adjusting to the physicality of the NBA as his body has been built for it since he was a high schooler.
After an ice-cold shooting stretch in February of last season, it became clear Banchero had most of the game handled. His playmaking ability was there, his rebounding was good, and he even could go back to the basket here or there. But it was his shooting that was giving him fits.
After five games, it looks like that is still the case. Banchero is shooting 44.8 percent from the field (buoyed by that 9-for-13 performance Thursday), only 3 for 11 (27.2 percent) from three, and an alarming 61 percent (25 for 41, so more than eight attempts per game now) from the free throw line.
Many noted he is also attempting four fewer shots per game and a quick look at his usage rate would reveal the ball is in his hands less.
Now it is early, and Thursday proved the narrative — and the numbers — can shift quickly. But talks of an all-star appearance or bringing the average up to 25 points per game might need to be put on hold for a little bit.
And with the injury to Wendell Carter, Paolo Banchero will have an even bigger role on the defensive end.
Alarm bells are not ringing yet. No one should be thinking about a sophomore slump, but some of these numbers are worth pointing out.
Banchero is a star – we all know this. He is just finding his footing early in his second season and he is not the only one. The rest of the Magic have a long way to go on offense as well.