When Orlando Magic began renovations in March 2021. centered around young talent, they could only hope to put themselves in that position.
Position to win the NBA draft lottery last month. Provision for select Paolo Bankero with the first pick in the draft on Thursday.
The answer to the question of whether Banchero will live up to the long-term expectations of the No. 1 pick will not be received immediately.
What is known is that Banchero’s selection is the single most important decision made by Magic basketball operations under President Jeff Veltman since the deconstruction of the roster, and the organization’s most important draft day decision since Dwight Howard defeated Emeka Okafora. with No. 1st pick in the 2004 draft.
While it wasn’t clear if there was a franchise-changing player in this draft, which made the No. 1 pick more difficult than in previous years, the Magic made the right choice based on where they wanted to go.
“I’m very confident that we’ll get a guy with the size, the talent, the IQ, the skills, the personality—everything we want to be about,” Veltman said before the draft. “We are going to add him to our group of already interesting young players. We will give him the opportunity to reach his full potential. Besides, he goes where he goes.”
Why Banchero Was Chosen
This year’s draft was not like some years when the No. 1 pick was an “easy” decision, as it was when Cade Cunningham, Anthony Davis or LeBron James were available.
On Thursday, there was a feeling that Banchero, Chet Holmgren and Jabari Smith were good top picks, but neither was good enough to separate themselves within the level they shared with each other.
With such a small margin, Orlando decided to satisfy his biggest need, so Banchero was chosen.
Throughout the 2021–22 season and the early stages of this rebuild, the Magic lacked a solid offensive center. They had the second-worst offensive rating in the league last season, behind only the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Banchero might be the closest offensive option in this draft class. This is the bet Orlando is making.
Orlando values versatility, defensive intensity, play with speed, space and communication. There is Banchero in the attack. There are concerns about his defense, but Magic has the infrastructure to cover him as he advances this end of the court. Coach Jamal Mosley demands protection.
The Magic needed someone to make their life easier on offense and they picked a player they thought would do it.
“The best feature he brings,” Veltman said on Thursday, “is that he makes it easier for the other guys to play.”
It helps that Banchero fits into the pool of players that Orlando already has.
He has a combination of size, skill and attacking prowess that helps him score in a myriad of ways. Banchero is a smart playmaker and the best passer of the top pick trio.
There will also be room for big mo bambawho played for the Magic in the 2021-22 season and will become a restricted free agent in the off-season.
Banchero hasn’t been shy about claiming he’s the best player in this year’s draft class.
He will now be seen as a catalyst to boost the level of the Magic, which Mosley says Orlando needs this offseason.
“The fact is that Paolo has nothing [that makes him stand out]”He’s such a multi-position player. He suits the modern NBA. That’s one of the things the league is looking for. You don’t get these guys that often. You say he’s the most NBA-ready, I agree. That sometimes lost in it is his incredible growth. He will get much better.”
As for how the No. 1 draft will affect the Magic’s approach to the 2022-23 season, Veltman confirmed before Thursday that Orlando will continue to patiently rebuild.
“Guys, you know we didn’t do all the lineup deconstruction we did so we could go back to the middle,” he said. “That’s not what we’re trying to do. Right now, we want to play better basketball, make fewer mistakes, increase our IQ, develop cohesion, and continue to understand which of our players will influence victory. We do want to get better, but not at the cost of going back to mediocrity. We want to have something sustainable. You must raise the standard to do this. You can’t just stay in the basement.
But Magic is under pressure – especially from outside – to quickly become a winner again.
Recently, there has been a general trend among teams that were in the Magic position before being drafted first. winning percentage in the following season before making a more significant jump in the second season of the No. 1 pick.
As Veltman said after the Magic won the draft lottery, Orlando “was honored to be pressured” by the first pick.
Now they have the honor of turning that choice into a player—Banchero—and the expectations associated with it.