Been keeping up with the Orlando Magic over this year, few bright spots with Franz Wagner who they recently drafted and Wendell Carter Jr who is starting to show us why he went 7th in his respective class. Jalen Suggs was too long this season and was rather inconsistent and shot the ball terribly this season. Cole Anthony reminded me of Allen Iverson early on this season with his share of 30 point outburst but he came back down to earth and likely won’t ever be a top 5 guard in the NBA, I’d bet my life savings he won’t. The Orlando Magic’s campaign wasn’t all that interesting considering the fact that Jonathan Isaac was expected to miss the entire season and I personally thought he would’ve been the Magic’s best player going into this season. From the looks of it the only locks for the starting 5 next season will be Jonathan Isaac and Wendell Carter Jr. Which brings me to Paolo Banchero who could slot in at either forward spot for the Magic and instantly become their go to scorer next season.
Franz Wagner? Love his game, a lot of similarities to Gordon Hayward and he might make a big enough leap in his second season where maybe the Magic entertain trading Jonathan Isaac at the deadline next season to go forward with a front-court of Paolo Banchero,Franz Wagner, and Wendell Carter Jr. Chuma Okeke has managed to stay healthy this season and head coach Jamal Mosley has featured him in the starting lineup a ton but my point is none of the players I have mentioned hold the ceiling of a Paolo Banchero who I believe could become one of the top 10 players in the NBA 2-3 years from now. It’s what the Magic have lacked since the departure of former superstar Dwight Howard, maybe Jonathan Isaac or even Markelle Fultz who’s made a surprising comeback this season will reward the Magic for their patience but I just don’t see it.
Mo Bamba? They’ve been patient enough with him, they expected him to eventually become Dikembe Mutombo with unlimited range but he is failiing to make his mark. He’ll tease you with a 25-30 point game outburst, knock down 5-7 threes and block 4-5 shots one night and forgets he is a 7-footer the following game. Paolo Banchero? Tough loss to North Carolina in the Final Four but who really cares what happens in college at this point? Adam Morrison had me thinking he was going to a trace between Drazen Petrovic and Larry Bird at one point when he played at Gonzaga and ended up being one of the biggest busts in NBA history. Paolo Banchero has great size, he’s well along physically already and reminds me of the #24 Kobe Bryant. I say the Kobe who wore #24 because the Kobe who wore #8 was a freakish athlete which Banchero just isn’t. Banchero is a lot bigger than Kobe both weight and height wise but the way he moves with the ball in his hands and at the speed he plays at is reminiscent to the Black Mamba.
Paolo Banchero just might be good enough to have LeBron James re-consider comments he made a while back on choosing to retire over playing for the Orlando Magic. He only said that because they just weren’t a desirable destination and they still aren’t? Seems like the Magic are just stockpiling young talent and seeing if one of their planted seeds can blossom into a Giant Sequoia, they’ll plant the right seed when they draft assuming they watched enough of Paolo Banchero this season at Duke like I did. They need a player to build around who could be the franchise player, sorry Jonathan Isaac I still think you could become a poor man’s Kevin Garnett which is actually a compliment towards Jonathan considering Garnett was a league MVP at one point and arguably a top 5 power-forward all-time but Jonathan is a liability with injuries and won’t ever become a first option in the NBA even if he wanted to.
To conclude even if an organization drops the ball year after year a lot like the Minnesota Timberwolves did in recent memory, you eventually hit the jackpot which is what they did by drafting Anthony Edwards who I believe will make the Timberwolves must watch TV over the next few years as he embarks on his own path towards greatness in Minnesota. It’s the Magic’s turn now if they draft Paolo Banchero, I see a league MVP or two down the road for Paolo and the possibility of lifting the Magic out of the mediocrity bubble they’ve been in which has felt like a decade. I am sure Paolo will extend the wave of young stars gladly carving out a legacy on a small-market a lot like Luka,Jokic,Morant,LaMelo,Edwards,and Giannis are currently doing for their respective teams. The 2022 NBA Draft has been one of the least hyped drafts in recent memory and might be a very shallow one at that but by the year 2030 when we think of the 2022 NBA Draft we will be remembering Paolo Banchero was the first name called by commissioner Adam Silver, till next time.