After facing a tough schedule that included bouts against the Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors in their first 10 games, Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero said it took until a late-November matchup against Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets to experience his “Welcome to the NBA” moment in an episode of “The Old Man and the Three” podcast, Eurohoops wrote in a Tuesday report.
“Playing against Kevin Durant was my welcome to the NBA moment,” Banchero said. “I guard him for most of that game and it was really just nothing you can do. Some guys get to the line a bunch or play with the refs and get calls and that’s how they get 14 points from the line.
“KD was straight business. He wasn’t saying anything to the refs, he was getting to the line, but he had 45 so most of those were buckets.”
While the former No. 1 overall pick put up 24 points and dished five assists at the center spot for the Magic in the Barclays Center, Kevin Durant exploded for 45 points in front of a home crowd, scoring against seemingly anyone who rotated onto him. With every bucket Banchero earned with careful drives to the hoop and a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer over the Nets forward, Durant earned two, ending the night with 19 made shots on 24 attempts.
The young Magic featuring three top-10 draft picks in the last five years still have plenty to prove under newly-hired head coach Jamahl Mosley, Paolo Banchero said, adding he knew of forwards Bol Bol and Franz Wagner’s potential before they even stepped on the court.
“I think we just have to continue to prove ourselves to the rest of the league that we’re a good team,” Banchero said. “We’ve just been buying in lately and really coming together as a group and it’s been showing. I think the teams starting to have that attitude too of not letting losing be the normal vibe around the organization.”