PAOLO BANCHERO AND THE ORLANDO KIDS



Paolo Banchero looks like the re-imagination of the Enchanted Kingdom wizard.








So how fitting it is for the Disney-sponsored franchise to nab the Duke Blue Devil as the top pick of the 2022 NBA Draft.


As per Scooter Magruder, he is basically Ben Simmons with a jump shot.


That can't be good for the other teams, especially with the Magic doing whatever it takes to rebuild for the foreseeable future.



Look, I am not saying that Orlando just selected the guy to take them off gutter hell. Even LeBron James struggled to get his Cleveland Cavaliers to the playoffs during his rookie year.


But he is an impressive foundation to their championship blueprint.


Ever since Orlando traded away Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, and Evan Fournier, it feels as if they have been scheming to conquer the Eastern Conference. Cole Anthony is a revelation and in some ways, this is a problem because they also have RJ Hampton and Jalen Suggs. Jonathan Isaac is going to return to a team with a Mo Bamba and Wendell Carter Jr. frontline. Markelle Fultz returned from injury late last season and is trying to revive his game.


And what about the Wagner Brothers - Franz and Moritz?


Actually, Franz in particular.


Wagner is a steal in the 2021 NBA Draft and Jonathan Kuminga must hope and pray that the Golden State Warriors are planning for his future because inasmuch as he is oozing with potential, Wagner doesn't have Hall of Famers in front of him in the depth chart.


But perhaps, that could be Banchero.


Now, like most draft picks, the verdict is still out on whether or not Banchero is a boss. In 2021, Atlanta selected Jalen Johnson as the 20th pick to sporadic appearances. In 2020, NBA teams selected former Duke stars Vernon Carey Jr, Tre Jones, and Cassius Stanley but their stints are not that remarkable. In 2019, Zion Williamson was the top pick with RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish also in the top ten.


We know Duke is a basketball program that can send a player to the NBA but whether or not Banchero, Charlotte's Mark Williams, Atlanta's AJ Griffin, and Minnesota's Wendell Moore can hang with the big boys remains to be seen.


I guess like most kid-infested teams, the worst thing to happen to Orlando is dissension among the ranks. Wendell Carter needs to raise his game as he is now the top inside man of Orlando but as far as taking their careers to the next level, Suggs and Franz Wagner are trying to stop the possibility of having a sophomore slump. Meanwhile, Cole Anthony might be looking to extend his contract and he will probably use this year to get more money.


And this is probably a make-or-break year for Isaac. Out of the 319 regular season games Orlando drafted him, Isaac has seen action in only 136. That's a lowly 43 percent attendance clip and he will definitely lose his spot to Banchero.


When the Magic selected Banchero, people were hoping they would select either Chet Holmgren or Jabari Smith. Smith, in particular, did not like the idea of him going third overall.


The last time the NBA has had this kind of three-way for the top spot, Fultz ended up with Philly with Lonzo Ball going to the LA Lakers and Jayson Tatum going to the Boston Celtics.


Hmmm...



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