Paolo Banchero's first All-Star nod gives him confidence

The Orlando Magic can now say that they have an All-Star on their roster. Paolo Banchero will gain more confidence as they inch closer to the Playoffs for the experience.

Paolo Banchero had a solid showing in his first All-Star Game. He proved he belongs among the league's elite players. And that should help him return to the Orlando Magic more confident.
Paolo Banchero had a solid showing in his first All-Star Game. He proved he belongs among the league's elite players. And that should help him return to the Orlando Magic more confident. / Stacy Revere/GettyImages
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Paolo Banchero is the truth.

No, he is not taking Paul Pierce's nickname and running with it. But he is running with the title of being the best second-year player in the NBA. Last year, he was the best first-year player in the NBA. And he proved it by winning Rookie of the Year honors.

This season, he has taken that mantle and grown on it. He did not rest on his laurels as Rookie of the Year. He aimed to break through into the elite tier of the league.

As the league's youngest and least experienced All-Star at the All-Star Game in Indianapolis, Banchero was still getting his feet under him. But he unequivocally has shown he belongs.

He has shown that by averaging 23.0 points per game, 6.9 rebounds per game and 5.3 assists per game in his second season. He continues to set marks as the youngest player 21-year-old or younger at 6-foot-10 to put up those numbers. He put himself among the elite players in the league for his age.

He has shown that by helping push a young Orlando Magic team into playoff contention. They sit in a tie for seventh in the Eastern Conference with ambitions to finish the season stronger.

This is a player with a lot of confidence.

And he does not want to be done.

Banchero wants to be known as one of the top 10 players in the NBA, not just the best player in his class. He idolized LeBron James as a young basketball player. He wants to become one of the game's greatest players. Experiences like playing alongside and against James in the All-Star Game will give him the confidence to become what he imagines he can be.

Although they are listed at two different positions, Banchero's game is similar to James' game. He has the power dunks and lateral mobility to get past defenders and work the paint area. Banchero admitted he had been watching James before becoming the Magic's leader.

"That was my favorite player growing up, so to be able to share the court with him for an All-Star Game is surreal," Banchero said after the All-Star Game. "Hopefully, I'll get to play a couple more years against him, but whenever he decides to hang it up, he deserves it."

Those surreal moments happen early in a professional basketball player's career. Kobe Bryant went through it at an early age when he competed against Michael Jordan for the first time. James went through it at an early age when he competed against Bryant for the first time.

There is always a passing of a baton to some extent. The first-time All-Star is taking in the whole atmosphere and joining the elite players in the league. Banchero arrived and hopes to stay with this elite group of players.

The feeling he is seeking is a realization and an understanding of belonging.

Before you are on the same stage as your idol, you have a cloud of doubt and uncertainty that hovers over your head, like the development of a bad rainstorm. Some may think that they should've put in more work to be better than they currently are.

Once you are on the same stage as your idol, you start to relax and get more comfortable in your own skin. You begin to realize all your work is starting to pay off.

Banchero's All-Star game nod is just a culmination of every practice, every sacrifice, and all of the unnoticed blood, sweat, and tears that have been dropped from your face in the midst of adversity.

Banchero is relaxed right now as he replays his experiences of the All-Star game over and over in his head. Right now, he has a sense of accomplishment that only players like LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Shaquille O'Neal or Tim Duncan could explain. All these players won Rookie of the Year honors and were All-Stars in their second year, like Banchero.

Banchero is in elite company.

Next. Banchero has next 02.19.24. Paolo Banchero eager to prove he has next. dark

That All-Star nod in their second year also gave them a certain amount of confidence. Hopefully, that confidence boost is exactly what the Magic need to continue on their quest to be a top-six seed in the Playoffs.