Hop on Paolo’s bandwagon because Magic is now gaining momentum | Comment

I don’t just jump on Paolo Banquero’s bandwagon.

I’m driving that daddy’s chewing gum!

Jump in, baby.

Orlando Magic heading to the 2025 NBA Finals.

2026 at the latest!

During Thursday night’s franchise switch, the Magic selected the 6’10” and 250-pound Duke Paolo Banchero with the first pick in the 2022 NBA Draft in the 2022 NBA Draft. I know, I know, I’m breaking my longstanding policy of not getting too excited about the shit known as the NBA Draft and not expecting too much from a 19 year old who only played one year in college basketball. . And no, I’m not going to write the mundane, mandatory sentence that sportswriters write after every draft in any sport: “We won’t know for a few years if Jeff Weltman, president of basketball operations for the Magic, made the right choice.”

This is not the night to be realistic or rational; this is not the night to be cynical or skeptical; It’s not the kind of night where you can continue to suffer from the fact that you have the most losing franchise in the NBA in the last 10 years.

No no no. This is a night to be in high spirits, delight, joy and jubilation; a night to let your imagination run wild with intoxicating possibilities.

Just like the thousands of Magic fans who were at the NBA Draft party at the Amway Center Thursday night exploded when Bunchero’s name was announced and confetti rained down from the ceiling.

There will be time later to get back down to earth and remember that the Magic had the second-worst record in the league this season, and many more years to go before the championship fight, but it was a night when Magic fans could dare to dream again. .

Can you believe it? Can you imagine it? After all of Mario Hezonjas, Alfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have finally picked a player that fans believe with all their hearts will become a star like other number one picks in franchise history.

Move over, Dwight.

Move over, Shaq.

Move over, Penny (via Chris Webber).

Make room for Paolo.

I don’t care what Veltman said before the draft about not putting undue pressure on the Magic’s pick by calling him a superstar, the face of the franchise before he even had a minute in the NBA.

“Predicting the stars,” said Veltman, “is a stupid idea.”

Then call me a fool.

Call me an idiot.

Call me illiterate about the NBA draft, but just remember where you first heard it.

Paolo Banquero will become a superstar.

Paolo Bankero It has be a superstar.

It will be amazing, incredible, magnificent. He will be the second coming of Chris Webber or maybe Chris Bosh.

Hear what current Arkansas and former NBA head coach Eric Musselman, who should have tried to find a way to stop Banchero during the NCAA Tournament, had this to say about him in an interview with The Athletic: “He was someone we just didn’t have. answer for. Our intelligence report couldn’t take anything away from him. When they needed a basket, he got it.”

Hear what CBSSports.com wrote of him, “Banchero was the best freshman in college last season, he led his team to the Final Four, he has an NBA-ready body, he has a whole list of skills, and he is one of the best passing players this year. draft. There has never been a moment where his skills didn’t translate/project into the perfect mix of old school mobile big and modern power forward. He’s the most NBA-ready player in this draft.”

Veltman is right when he says it’s unfair to put that much pressure on a draft pick, but you know what else is unfair? Asking fans to go through a decade of suffering, sickness, and countless iterations of rebuilding without ever having a player on their team that really excites and fires them up.

It’s been over 10 years since the greatest coach in Magic history (Stan Van Gundy) coached the greatest player in Magic history (Dwight Howard) to a superstar, and since then, Magic fans have lost a star. Stan, who has become one of the NBA’s most astute television analysts, told me a few days ago that the Magic appears to be forming an intriguing young roster – except for one key component.

“My question is to Magic, and it’s not a mistake because these guys are hard to find, but do they have a star they can build around? Do they have a player who can be the cornerstone, the guy you pass the ball to in the fourth quarter of a playoff game. I’m not saying they don’t, but it would be hard to say unequivocally that they are.”

A memo to Stan and the rest of the NBA players:

They are doing now.

His name is Paolo Banchero and I’m driving a winner.

Jump in, baby.

Next stop, NBA Finals 2025!

Write to me at mbianchi@orlandosentinel.com. Follow me on Twitter @BianchiWrites and listen to my Open Mike radio show every weekday from 6:00 am to 9:30 pm on FM 96.9, AM 740 and HD 101.1-2.

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