Orlando Magic sophomore forward Paolo Banchero kicked off the Magic’s 2023-24 NBA preseason schedule in style Tuesday night. In the first quarter against New Orleans, Banchero first passed Pelicans star forward Zion Williamson at the 3-point line. He then drove straight to the basket and delivered a thunderous slam over Pelicans senior big man Jonas Valanciunas.
Watch the 2023 NBA Rookie of the Year highlight dunk below:
Also read: Magic head coach praises Paulo Panchero, calling him a combination of LeBron James and 2 All-Stars
Paulo Banchero on his FIBA World Cup experience
Paulo Banchero was one of several Orlando Magic players who participated in the FIBA World Cup 2023 this past off-season. Banchero represented the US team, which finished fourth in the tournament. The 20-year-old played only a limited role for the team (17.3 minutes per game). But despite his struggles from 3-point range, he was able to make an impact as an efficient scorer inside the paint. He was also able to serve as a small-ball center at times for the smaller American team.
However, according to Panchero, one of the most beneficial parts of his FIBA experience came when he watched from the sidelines. Panchero said it allowed him to see the game differently and grow as a vocal leader:
„Being the youngest on the team, I think I was able to be more vocal, especially when I was able to help some of the other guys, I told them what I saw from the bench and I knew what I saw. Picture,” Banchero said.
Banchero’s FIBA experience, playing alongside elite NBA talent and growing as a leader will bode well for Orlando this season. The rising star is now looking to make another leap in Year 2 and lead the Magic to their first playoff appearance since 2020.
Banchero averaged 9.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.9 blocks and 0.3 3-pointers on 57.5% shooting in seven World Cup games.
Over 72 games for the Magic last season, Banchero averaged 20.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3.7 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.5 ppg and 1.2 3pg on 42.7% shooting.
Also read: „He’s really in control”: Paulo Banchero marvels at LeBron James’ aura, basketball IQ and ease of play
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