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Paolo Banchero On Target To Win NBA Rookie Of The Year

The competition is down to three

Detroit Pistons v Orlando Magic
 ORLANDO, FL - APRIL 2: Paolo Banchero #5 of the Orlando Magic shoots a free throw during the game against the Detroit Pistons on April 2, 2023 at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. 
Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

The NBA announced the three finalists for Rookie of the Year and they are one-time Tar Heel Walker Kessler of the Utah Jazz, Jalen Williams from OKC and former Blue Devil and current member of the Orlando Magic Paolo Banchero.

Banchero is the odds-on favorite to win and he has had a terrific rookie season, showing a maturity to his game that is very rare among 19-year-old players.

Banchero is widely seen as the frontrunner, as we said, so when Utah Jazz beat writer Andy Larsen put Kessler ahead of him, it raised eyebrows and temperatures online.

For our part, we don’t have an issue with it. First, he’s a beat writer for the Jazz which means he’s seen a lot more of Kessler than he has of Banchero. There are the homer concerns, but even with that said, he could probably make a reasonable argument for Kessler based on his consistent observations.

Realistically though, Banchero is probably going to win if not unanimously given Larsen’s vote. He’s just really emerged as a solid all-around player with a very high basketball IQ, even more than we saw at Duke.

He does need to work on his efficiency, but what rookie doesn’t? That’s fine.

We’ll see how the vote ultimately turns out but one thing is clear: Jabari Smith isn’t in the Top Three.

Why do we mention him?

Because originally, everyone expected Orlando to pick him at #1 instead of Banchero. Even if Banchero fails to win Rookie of the Year, Orlando still looks to have made the right decision.

The other guy who was Top Three of course was Chet Holmgren, who missed the entire season with a foot injury so we’ll have to judge him later. OKC still had a finalist, which means they drafted very well, and he has put on some much-needed weight. So check back in the fall to see how he looks.