It took him a few weeks to kind of put it all together at Duke, but once he did, Paolo Banchero was nearly unstoppable.
He ended up being drafted #1 by Orlando and was last year’s Rookie of the Year.
We’re going to ask you to use your imagination for a minute here.
Banchero was one when Lebron James was drafted in 2003. He was also taken first and was also Rookie of The Year.
He was three the first time James was named an All-Star, six when James helped the US win gold in Beijing in 2008 and 10 when James won his first NBA title with Miami in 2012.
Remember the amazing chase down block James did against Golden State in 2016?
Banchero was 14.
Imagine you are 14-year-old Banchero, promising but really a nobody in basketball at that age. Imagine going outside with your ball after seeing that.
Then imagine playing against James Saturday and doing this to someone you have admired your entire life.
Part of it is surely that, at 39, James is not what he once was. He’s still amazing and has done as well as anyone ever has to maintain his body and skills, but 39 is 39. In NBA years, that’s ancient.
He is still elite at that age and that’s incredible. But Banchero is just 20 and he’s learning that James can be had. More and more players will figure this out if they haven't already but as they say, time is undefeated. James will slow down.
Even so, he finished this game with 24 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Banchero essentially matched him with 25 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists.
The world must seem boundless to him right now.