Paolo Banchero was the clear favorite to earn Rookie of the Year from when he was selected first in last year’s draft.
And no one saw him.
The Magic forward receives 98 out of 100 first-place votes, defeating other candidates, Jalen Williams and Walker Kessler.
Banchero was called the overwhelming winner of the outstanding rookie award for this season on Tuesday night after the Orlando big topped all first-year players in scoring and helped the Magic go from a 22-win team last season to a 34-win team this season that competed for a play-in place.
The ex-Duke star scored 20 points per game on average. He led all rookies with 15 games scoring at least 25 points and 40 games scoring in the 20s. The fact that he was named Rookie of the Month four times simply served to highlight how far ahead of the pack he already was.
Joining Shaquille O’Neal (1993) and Banchero’s own Mike Miller (2001) as Magic players to earn rookie of the year, he made history. While discussing his chat with Miller on draft night, Banchero mentioned it on TNT’s broadcast of the announcement.
Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero is the recipient of the Wilt Chamberlain Trophy as the 2022-23 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year.
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) April 25, 2023
Paolo Banchero Wins Rookie of the Year Award and Sets Sights on Further Growth
“He looked at me and asked if I was going to be rookie of the year,” Paolo Banchero said. My answer was a confident “yes. It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do and have had my sights set on ever since I was picked. I’m happy I had the chance to try it.
Journalists and commentators chose Banchero as the best player in the league, with 98 out of 100 first-place votes going to him. Walker Kessler of the Utah Jazz placed third, followed by Jalen Williams of the Oklahoma City Thunder in second. Two of Banchero’s first-place votes were given to Kessler.
Since Karl-Anthony Towns in 2016, when he was also picked first overall, no player has won the award the season after their draft year like Banchero has done. Ben Simmons earned the award in 2018, two years after he was drafted first overall.
Banchero has shown on-court maturity and a commitment to play the proper way in his first year, two things that stood out to Magic coach Jamahl Mosley.
In-game, “he had an ability to adjust to whatever was asked of him to impact winning,” Mosley said.
Banchero admits that he is far from perfect, and Mosley has mentioned that the organization has certain specific areas of improvement they want him to focus on this summer.
Mosley believes “there’s so many ways he can grow.” Inexperienced workers, I’ve found, often try to take on too much when they first start out. Since he plans to work throughout the summer, most of our conversation has been on narrowing in on one or two areas where he can make the most progress. There won’t be any doubt in my mind about it.”
Banchero Shares Goals for Upcoming Season as NBA Awards Season Continues
Banchero outlined his goals for the upcoming months in the final entry of his rookie journal for The Associated Press.
In terms of shooting from deep, he plans to be more reliable and lethal in the upcoming season. There were chunks of this year where I was able to make good shots consistently. I simply have to find my rhythm. I’d like to increase my range next year and get into the greatest form of my life; I felt strong and healthy this past year, but I’d like to push myself even farther. Everything will need to be turned up a notch if I am to achieve my goals. And I’m excited about it.
So far this award season, the NBA has announced Jaren Jackson Jr. of Memphis as defensive player of the year, De’Aaron Fox of Sacramento as the first recipient of the clutch player award, Kings head coach Mike Brown as the unanimous choice for coach of the year, Malcolm Brogdon of Boston as sixth man of the year, and Lauri Markkanen of Utah as the league’s most improved player.
The last and greatest individual award is Most Valuable Player.
Denver’s Nikola Jokic, the reigning MVP for the past two seasons, is up against Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid for the award. The NBA has not announced a date for the MVP award ceremony.
We still need to find out who made All-NBA, All-Rookie, or All-Defensive.
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