Although he didn’t play long in the NBA Summer League, former Duke star Paolo Banchero, who was taken #1 in the draft by the Orlando Magic, made a big impression on many people. Toss in the various Pro-Am events he played in and he definitely looked like he belonged.
So: is he going to be Rookie of the Year?
Well, maybe. It depends on a whole lot of things. This site thinks he’s the best bet though:
“If you’re going to make a preseason bet on the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award, it should be on Paolo Banchero. I typically strive for a bit more nuance in these award previews, but if Banchero stays healthy, he is the overwhelming favorite to win the award based on precedent. He’s available at +225 right now at Caesars Sportsbook. He would still be a good value bet at even money.“
Predicting the future is tricky business. You could reasonably have assumed that rookie LeBron James was going to be superb. Remember Sam Bowie? Remember Greg Oden? Poor Maurice Stokes?
You just never know. Some guys get to the NBA and are a revelation. We’re not sure anyone understood how good Julius Erving was at UMass. He started in the ABA, but still. Even Bill Russell was underappreciated and the most revolutionary player in NBA history was traded to Boston before playing a minute in St. Louis (Russell no doubt saw that as a major break).
What if a later pick, say Jalen Duren, turns out to be a sensation?
What if Banchero, like new teammate Markell Fultz, gets the yips?
Fundamentally, he’s right - it should be Banchero. But at that level, every weakness, every imperfection gets exposed. It’s not an easy world to reach, much less in which to excel.