Magic’s Paolo Banchero wins NBA’s Rookie of the Year award
In a well-deserved recognition of his outstanding rookie season, Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero has been named the NBA’s 2022-23 Rookie of the Year and the recipient of the prestigious Wilt Chamberlain Trophy. Banchero was widely predicted to win this award, with many sportsbooks even removing Rookie-of-the-Year odds midway through the season. With an impressive 98 first-place votes and 494 total voting points, Banchero left his competition far behind. Oklahoma City Thunder guard Jalen Williams was the runner-up with 241 total voting points, albeit with zero first-place votes.
In his debut season, Banchero proved his mettle as a top-notch player, leading all rookies in points and finishing third in assists, fourth in steals, and fifth in rebounds. Orlando’s offense relied heavily on Banchero, who showcased his ability to create and excel both independently and for the team. Banchero posted 40 games of 20+ points and six games of 30+ points, which is the second-most by a Magic rookie.
The 20-year-old was Orlando’s first pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, and he did not disappoint. He snagged the Rookie of the Month award for four consecutive months, from December to March.
With an average of 20.0 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.2 threes and 0.8 steals per game, Banchero’s rookie season has been nothing short of spectacular. While his efficiency wavered at times during the season, he more than made up for it with some dominant performances. On Nov. 5, he recorded 33 points and 16 rebounds against the Sacramento Kings, becoming only the second teenager in NBA history to do so. The following game against the Houston Rockets on Nov. 7, Banchero scored 30 points, becoming only the fifth teenager in NBA history with back-to-back 30-point outings, a group that includes LeBron James, Luka Doncic, Zion Williamson, and Devin Booker. On March 31, Banchero impressed again with a brilliant performance of 30 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 blocks in a win over the Washington Wizards.
While Banchero’s performance dipped at times during the season, his strong start and finish helped him clinch the award. In his final 17 games, Banchero averaged 20.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 4.2 assists on 53.4% true shooting.
Banchero becomes Orlando’s third Rookie-of-the-Year recipient, alongside Shaquille O’Neal and Mike Miller, who also happens to be Banchero’s agent.
Banchero and Franz Wagner, both highly-rated draft picks, are the new franchise cornerstones that Orlando can build around. The Magic has an impressive young core that also includes Wendell Carter Jr., Markelle Fultz, Jonathan Isaac, Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, and Bol Bol. Orlando also has the sixth-best odds in the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery, with a 9% chance of landing the No. 1 pick, and they will also receive the Chicago Bulls’ pick unless it lands in the top-four. Chicago has the 11th-best lottery odds.
All in all, Orlando Magic has an incredible young core, and Banchero’s Rookie of the Year award is a testament to his stellar performance this season, setting the stage for an exciting future for Magic’s fans.
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