Paolo Banchero is a star the NBA should give more shine

Paolo Banchero has had a great start to his career and continues to improve. Banchero has done his part on the court -- number one overall pick, Rookie of the Year, All-Star -- now the NBA should give him a spotlight with some nationally televised games.
Jan 28, 2024; Orlando, Florida, USA;  Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero (5) drives to the hoop
Jan 28, 2024; Orlando, Florida, USA; Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero (5) drives to the hoop / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

From the first time Paolo Banchero stepped on an NBA court, it was clear the Magic had made the correct choice in picking him first overall.

Orlando Magic fans know how good he has been. But the NBA should be doing a better job of introducing Banchero, one of the league's most exciting young players, to fans on the national stage.

Tuesday's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder marks his first national TV appearance in his career. He is already an NBA All-Star in the second season of his career.

It is not the first time he has done anything noteworthy. He has continued to set historical marks that deserve national attention. Banchero is a player seeking a spotlight. The NBA has not shined it on him.

Banchero had a dazzling NBA debut, pouring in 27 points, nine rebounds and five assists, making him the first player since LeBron James to tally 25-plus points, five-plus rebounds and five-plus assists in his first NBA game.

Banchero ultimately finished his rookie season with 20.0 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game, earning him four Rookie of the Month selections, an All-Rookie team selection and the Wilt Chamberlain Trophy for Rookie of the Year.

As a team, the Magic also jumped from 22 wins to 34 wins. The NBA had a young superstar who was making an immediate impact.

Coming off of Banchero's Rookie of the Year campaign, the Magic were pegged by a lot of basketball junkies as one of the NBA's must-see League Pass teams. But there was only the one national TV game delivered to him as one of the best young players in the league -- Tuesday's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Banchero has continued to deliver. The Magic are just five wins from matching last season's total of 34 with 29 games to go. They are in position for a playoff berth, sitting in seventh and in a tight race to climb to sixth.

Banchero has continued to grow in the process.

In his second season, Banchero is averaging 22.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game, making him one of 13 players in the NBA averaging 20-plus points, 5-plus rebounds and 5-plus assists per game. Adding to the intrigue, Banchero is doing this at 21 years old and usually against double and triple teams.

Banchero usually has an All-Star caliber running mate in Franz Wagner, who missed eight games in January when the team was dealing with injuries throughout the roster. Five other full-time rotation players were out.

When the Magic needed him most, Banchero delivered by increasing his output overall, averaging 23.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game. He got his first career triple-double with 32 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a shocking win against the Denver Nuggets.

Although he is undoubtedly ecstatic to have Wagner on the court, while Wagner was out, Banchero led an essentially new starting lineup featuring Goga Bitadze, Chuma Okeke and Caleb Houston to a 3-5 record during those eight games, including wins against the New York Knicks and the Denver Nuggets.

Banchero keeps putting up big scoring performances and looking like a perennial All-Star. In his second season, Banchero already has six 30-point and two 40-point games.

The coaches recognized him as an All-Star. The players voted him fourth. He has the respect of his peers. He has missed a national stage for the larger NBA public to see his greatness.

Next weekend in Indianapolis will be a weekend of Paolo Banchero. He will be front and center throughout the weekend.

Banchero will participate all three days of All-Star weekend, including as an All-Star on Sunday -- Orlando's first since Nikola Vucevic in 2021.

On Friday, Paolo Banchero will be a part of the Panini Rising Stars game, where Banchero was the second overall pick -- only behind Victor Wembenyama. On Saturday, he will be a member of one of "Team Top Picks" alongside Anthony Edwards and Victor Wembanyama for the Skills Challenge.

Banchero has gotten the attention of true basketball fans, but not because of any marketing campaigns by the NBA. Instead, he has gained attention because Banchero is one of the best young players in the league and is the leader of one of the most exciting young cores in the NBA.

Players and coaches have spent their time praising the young forward. They know what a challenge Banchero already is and will continue to be.

No question, Banchero is name number one on every single team's scouting report.

Banchero is a major contributor to team success, too.

Orlando made a 12-win improvement last season, and the team is well on its way to eclipsing last year's 34-win total very soon.

The Magic have started formulating and implementing their defensive identity and unleashing their top-five defense on the opposition. The Orlando Magic are squarely in the playoff hunt and sit in the race for sixth -- a half-game behind the Indiana Pacers for sixth and a half-game ahead of the Miami Heat for seventh.

For all of the flashes of brilliance Banchero has shown in the last two seasons, he has not yet been rewarded with national attention.

Most NBA fans have heard the Victor Wembanyama vs. Chet Homgren discussions, or all of the talks of Jaime Jaquez in Miami, or national media surrounding LaMelo Ball, Zion Williamson and Tyrese Maxey. They have all gotten a lot more national TV coverage and attention. It is rare for a top overall pick to wait this long for even the smallest spotlight.

There is no reason Banchero should not be mentioned as much or more than all of the players previously listed.

Banchero has made a handful of appearances on podcasts and non-traditional media. Still, the traditional media and NBA have not done enough to bring attention to how good Banchero has been.

In fact, Banchero was named an All-Star before ever playing a nationally televised game. This is blasphemous, considering Banchero was the number one overall pick and Rookie of the Year. The NBA dropped the ball on marketing not only one of their best young players but also one of the up-and-coming teams in the NBA.

Tuesday's game will be a showcase game for him. But that is a lot of pressure to put on one game -- and against one of the top teams in the Western Conference. That game should not be his lone statement for attention.

The playoffs then will go a long way to helping everyone in the NBA see just how good Banchero and this team can be.

Next. Playoff Standard 02.10.24. Orlando Magic are shaping their playoff standard. dark

Banchero has had one of the best starts to a career in the history of the NBA and is Orlando's best homegrown star since Dwight Howard -- his talent already warrants national media attention. And soon, he will demand attention from the wider world.