One year after making Paolo Banchero the top overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic have to be ecstatic with their decision. Banchero won the 2023 NBA Rookie of the Year award, leading the Magic to their best record in three years. After a strong first year, Banchero is intent on achieving much more team success with a long-term goal of taking the Magic to the NBA Finals.
The Magic won 34 games in Paolo Banchero's rookie campaign, a 12-win improvement from the previous season. In speaking with ClutchPoints' Tomer Azarly during the 2023 NBA Finals, Banchero said that he's working toward getting Orlando back to the playoffs to compete for a championship.
“I think I held my own and earned some respect,” Banchero said. “But there’s a lot more I want to do… Trying to help us get back to winning ways, get to the playoffs, and eventually get here [to the NBA Finals].”
“I think I held my own and earned some respect. But there’s a lot more I want to do… Trying to help us get back to winning ways, get to the playoffs, and eventually get here [to the NBA Finals].”
Magic star Paolo Banchero on what’s next for his NBA career.
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) June 11, 2023
The Magic haven't been back to the playoffs since losing a five-game, first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA bubble. It's been 13 years since Orlando won its last playoff series. The Magic were ousted by Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2009 NBA Finals.
Banchero could prove to be the best Magic player since Dwight Howard, who took Orlando to the NBA Finals over a decade ago. Banchero averaged 20.0 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game after his freshman year at Duke.
With plenty of salary-cap space and two lottery picks, the Magic have a real chance to improve the roster around Banchero and make next year's playoffs.