Duke was only up by a point late in an NCAA Tournament game and needed a spark.
Against third-seeded Texas Tech, No. 2 Duke held a narrow lead with less than seven minutes to play. Paolo Banchero, a Duke forward who has one of the best NBA odds to be taken first in this year’s draft, supplied his team with critical points.
Banchero drove from the left wing toward the right end of the court. As a defender tried to prevent him from going that way, Banchero spun back to his left and rose for an easy bucket in the paint.
About a minute later, Banchero drove, and the defense swarmed around him. That opened up an easy no-look pass to the post for a wide-open dunk.
Banchero, beyond these couple of plays, has proven he’s capable of being an integral member of an NBA team.
— ACC Network (@accnetwork) January 13, 2022
Paolo Banchero Draft Odds
The Orlando Magic have the first overall pick after going 22-60 a year ago. The Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets pick second and third, respectively.
|Name||Position||Team||1st Pick Odds (6/22)|
|Jabari Smith Jr.||F||Auburn||-300|
|Dyson Daniels||G||NBA G League Ignite||+50000|
|MarJon Beauchamp||G||NBA G League Ignite||+50000|
|Jaden Hardy||G||NBA G League Ignite||+50000|
|Nikola Jovic||F||Mega Mozzart (Serbia)||+50000|
|Blake Wesley||G||Notre Dame||+50000|
Paolo Banchero Draft Pick Projection
While Banchero isn’t among the top two for NBA Draft betting odds, he has the skill worthy of being selected second overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Thunder, who went 24-58 last season, were 17th in defensive rating, 24th in rebounding percentage, 27th in net rating, 29th in effective field goal percentage, and last in offensive rating.
However, they have a promising future. At 23 years old, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder with 24.5 points per game last season. They also possess plenty of draft capital to stock up for the future. That includes the second and 12th picks in the first round of this year’s draft.
Banchero would have time to develop with the rest of the young Oklahoma City roster.
Paolo Banchero Stats
A 6-foot-10, 250-pound forward from Seattle, Banchero shined during his lone year at Duke during the postseason. A consensus All-American, he was on the NCAA All-Tournament and ACC All-Tournament teams.
Banchero was also the ACC Freshman of the Year and a first-team all-conference pick. In addition, he was a finalist for the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award.
With 17.2 points per game, Banchero paced all true freshmen in scoring in the country. He was fifth with a 47.8% field goal percentage and sixth with 7.8 rebounds per contest.
Banchero added 3.2 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.9 blocks per game. He also hit on 34% of his shots from 3-point range.
With 39 starts, he ended the season with 12 double-doubles and 15 games of 20-plus points. He helped his team reach the Final Four, where he scored a team-high 20 points, but the Blue Devils fell to North Carolina.
Paolo Banchero Draft Profile
Banchero’s offensive skill set is electric and versatile.
At 6-foot-10, his shooting prowess immediately stands out. He’s capable of connecting well beyond the 3-point arc and can sink shots both off the dribble and off of passes.
Banchero is also dynamic around the paint. With precise footwork and physicality, he possesses a post-up game which would help him as a pro.
— Duke Men’s Basketball (@DukeMBB) January 30, 2022
But there’s more to it. Banchero can beat defenders to the hoop with an explosive first step and nifty spin move.
He also makes excellent decisions with the ball, as he’s a proficient passer in traffic. And once he has momentum, he’s acrobatic and creative around the rim. This helps him flush down dazzling dunks, but it should also allow him to translate to the professional level well.
Banchero’s defense is inconsistent. While he’s a capable shot blocker, he’s sometimes late on closeouts and rotations. He has also been defeated in one-on-one situations.
However, that is something Banchero should be capable of tweaking. Overall, he is a thrilling prospect with a strong chance to elevate whichever team he lands on.
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