As we noted recently, former Blue Devil Paolo Banchero has had a freakish year plus a couple of months: #1 pick in the NBA Draft, Rookie of the Year, a Jordan shoe rep and now on to Team USA.
That’s the only part that hasn’t been shockingly easy.
Having just finished his rookie season, Banchero is not as experienced as most of his teammates and he isn’t ready to be the star of this team. So what does he do?
He finds ways to make an impact.
Here’s what he said after the camp: “With Orlando, I’m the leading scorer, kind of the main guy. But here, and I’m able to do other things, whether it is affecting the game defensively, on the glass, with my passing, whatever it may be. … I think I can showcase the other parts of my game. Whatever the team needs, I would try to show that.”
Turns out what the team needs, or at least what coach Steve Kerr would like to tinker with, is using Banchero at center.
That’s a very different role from what he had at Duke and with the Magic this past season, where so much of the offense flowed through him.
What Kerr has in mind is a guy who can defend and rebound and start the break. Banchero can certainly do that, although it will be a considerable adjustment.
It makes sense though.
What Mike Krzyzewski proved in his long tenure with Team USA was that while the rest of the world had improved dramatically, no one can match the athleticism the US can bring to the court. At its peak, Team USA can run other teams out of the gym and when you have big guys who can be part of that, it’s tremendously exciting.
His role will evolve, but clearly, Kerr and the brain trust see lots of options and it’s great that Banchero willingly accepts what they ask of him. His focus is on making his team better and that’s exactly what you want to see.