Some top picks take longer to adjust to the League than others, but former Duke star Paolo Banchero seemed right at home at the Las Vegas Summer League. Banchero combined for 40 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds in his first (and only) two games against NBA-level talent.
While there’s always pressure following the No. 1 overall pick, Banchero didn’t seem to feel any of it. But even considering Banchero’s brilliant Summer League performances, Coach Jamahl Mosely wanted to pump the breaks on any Superman talk concerning his potential franchise cornerstone.
The second-year coach says he wants to take as much pressure off Banchero’s shoulders as possible and will focus on a holistic, by-committee approach with the team, even if Banchero may already be geared to be the franchise’s next superstar.
“I really believe that we’re going to do it by committee, honestly,” Mosley told ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “Look at the Warriors. Look at Milwaukee; you look at Memphis. There’s something about the committee in which they do it. One person will speak at times, but there’s other guys holding each one accountable. There’s one guy that will speak up and do it a different way, work in a different way.
And while Mosely is confident his players are buying into the system, Bachero’s teammates can’t help but marvel at the talent, and potential the 19-year-old possesses. In practicing with Banchero, point guard Cole Anthony understands the Seattle native can’t do everything for the team but knows he’ll play an integral part in Orlando’s future.
“I’ve been in the gym with [Banchero] a little bit already, seeing him out here, just doing what he does,” Anthony said to ESPN. “He’s going to help us a lot. And now I feel like we can really start building something.”
“That kid is so talented,” Anthony went on to say. “He loves the game. He works hard, and I think — he’s going to be really good.”
With a young group of players including Banchero, Anthony, Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter Jr., Franz, Mo Wagner, and R.J. Hampton, the 2022 ACC Player of the Year will have to not only focus on his individual play but also on his fit on a young roster. And even though he was a consensus five-star recruit out of high school and attended arguably the most prominent basketball university in the country, Banchero admits he’s still adjusting to the spotlight of the NBA.
“A year and a half ago, I was a high schooler,” Banchero said. “I wasn’t used to that. Now it’s different.”
But he’s not shying away from the moment, and with Mosley’s approach and the support from his vets, Banchero says he’s ready for his time in the spotlight. He dominated at Duke, averaging 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game on 48 percent shooting from the field, and he looks to do the same in the League.
“It’s just added intensity, added pressure, when the whole crowd’s clapping and standing up when you have the ball,” Banchero said. “It’s just stuff you dream of, in the arena where the whole crowd’s eyes are on you. You just want that moment. That’s just what I live for.”
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