1 Orlando Magic candidate for each NBA award
MVP: Paolo Banchero
Paolo Banchero had a fantastic rookie season and seems set to make a leap into stardom.
He won Rookie of the Year, made the All-Rookie first team, and averaged 20.0 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. He shot 42.7 percent from the field and 29.8 percent from deep. He received 98 out of 100 first-place votes for Rookie of the Year.
He ranked among all NBA leaders in rebounding (tied for 38th) and minutes played (tied for 37th). Banchero led all NBA rookies in scoring and minutes played while also ranking among rookie leaders in rebounding (fifth), assists (third), free throw percentage (seventh), steals (fourth) and blocked shots (sevent).
With Banchero’s experience with the USA Men’s National Team this summer for the FIBA World Cup, the second-year forward will look to take a second-year leap.
It has been a bit slow for sure. But his 30-point outburst including the go-ahead basket over the Utah Jazz on Thursday calmed some nerves and re-established his star path forward.
A leap on the defensive end is likely with the progress made with Team USA this summer. Due to the limited amount of bigs on the roster this year, Banchero is slotted to play at least some minutes at the 5– and Wendell Carter’s injury may accelerate those experiments. He held his own during these moments, becoming a quality shot blocker and improved his communication on defense.
Fanduel gives him +5000 odds to win the MVP. Unless a significant scoring leap is involved and a 10-win improvement is in store, it is unlikely that Banchero will win the award.
These two key developments will translate into wins for the Magic this Year. The Magic are putting a lot on the 20-year-old to be the leader and cornerstone of the organization.