NBA Hoops

Paolo Banchero aiming for Rookie of the Year award

Paolo Banchero aiming for Rookie of the Year award

ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero enters the season as the favorite to win Rookie of the Year, and the No. 1 pick has that award atop his list of personal goals.

Banchero, an All-American last season at Duke, is currently ahead of Sacramento’s Keegan Murray, Detroit’s Jaden Ivey and Houston’s Jabari Smith Jr. in odds by most sportsbooks after a sensational run in the Las Vegas Summer League.

The 19-year-old possesses the necessary size and skillset to succeed in the NBA and projects to play a key role with the Magic from the start of the season. He would love to win Rookie of the Year but wants to see the Magic perform at a high level above all else.

I just want to be a great teammate. I want to, as a team, be in contention whether that is a playoff spot, play-in or just be in the mix and compete every game. I also want to be Rookie of the Year so that is just a personal goal I’ve set for myself.

Success as a first-year player is often measured in different ways, depending on a variety of factors. It can sometimes include how a given player adjusts to a new system, something that team president Jeff Weltman outlined on Monday.

Learn, grow, work and understand, most importantly, what winning takes in this league — that’s a successful season. We have to communicate that not just to Paolo but to all of our players. It has to be our first mission to get him an understanding of the role orientation, the work, the off-the-court discipline and everything it takes to win in this league. It is a different level.

The Magic have seemingly constructed a roster with a good mixture of veterans, including Wendell Carter Jr., Markelle Fultz, Gary Harris and Terrence Ross among others. The group has been instrumental in taking Banchero in and helping him find his way in the early going.

Of course, Fultz is a former top pick himself and went through quite a bit of adversity during his first few years in Philadelphia. He has given Banchero plenty of advice in their short time as teammates to help him navigate the pressure of being the No. 1 pick.

I think the biggest advice I have for him and will continue to give him throughout this year is there are no expectations for him. The only expectations he has are the ones he puts on himself and understanding he was the No. 1 pick for reason. He has unbelievable talent. He is an unbelievable person and as long as he continues to work and give his all to this program, I think any personal…

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