I’m not just jumping on the Paolo Banchero bandwagon.
I’m driving papa gum!
cheer up, baby.
The Orlando Magic will enter the 2025 NBA Finals.
By 2026 at the latest!
In a team change Thursday night, the Magic selected 6-foot-10, 250-pound Duke boy Paul Banchero with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. I know, I know, I’m breaking my long-standing policy of not getting too excited about the crap dubbed the NBA draft or expecting too much from a 19-year-old who only played one year of college basketball. And , no, I’m not going to write the mundane, mandatory sentence that sports columnists write after every draft in any sport: “It will be years before we know about Jeff Weltman, president of basketball operations for the Magic. Whether (Jeff Weltman) made the right choice.”
It wasn’t a night of reality or reason; it wasn’t a night of cynicism or doubt; it wasn’t a night of misery that continued to indulge in having the NBA’s most failed team of the past 10 years.
No no no. It’s a night of elation, ecstasy, ecstasy; a night that lets your imagination run wild in heady possibilities.
Like the thousands of Magic fans who attended the NBA draft party at the Amway Center on Thursday night, they erupted when Banchero’s name was announced and confetti fell from the ceiling.
There will be time to get back to Earth later, remember the Magic have the second-worst record in the league this season and are still years away from competing for any championship, but this was a night for Magic fans to dare to dream again.
Do you believe? Can you get pregnant? After Mario Herzonhas, Elfrid Paytons and Aaron Gordons, the Magic finally drafted a player that fans wholeheartedly believed would be a star, just like in franchise history the same as other No. 1 picks.
Go over there, Dwight.
Move on, Shaq.
Move, Penny (via Chris Webber).
Make room for Paul.
I don’t care what Weltman said before the draft to not put too much pressure on the Magic’s draft pick and label him a superstar before he even played a minute in the NBA.
“Predicting the stars,” said Weltman, “is a fool’s errand.”
Then call me a fool.
call me an idiot.
Call me NBA draft illiterate, but remember where you first heard it.
Paul Banchero is going to be a superstar.
Paul Banchero Have Become a superstar.
He will be amazing, incredible, great. He will be the second appearance of Chris Webber or Chris Bosh.
Hear what current Arkansas and former NBA head coach Eric Musselman has to say about having to try to stop Banchero during an interview with The Athletic during the NCAA Tournament: “He It was someone we just didn’t have to answer. Our scouting report couldn’t take anything away from him. When they needed a basket, it gave him.”
Hear what CBSSports.com has to say about him: “Banchero was the best freshman in college basketball last season, he led the team to the Final Four, his body is ready for the NBA, he has a string of Skills and is the best passing big man in this year’s draft. There’s never a moment when his skills don’t translate/project to being the perfect combination of old-school mobile power forward and modern power forward. He’s the best NBA fit in this draft player.”
Weltman said it’s unfair to put that pressure on draft picks, and he’s right, but you know what’s unfair? Fans were asked to endure a decade of pain, discomfort and countless iterations of rebuilding, and there was never a single player on their team that really excited them and ignited them.
It’s been more than 10 years since Magic’s greatest coach (Stan Van Gundy) made Magic’s greatest player (Dwight Howard) a superstar, and Magic fans have been starless since then. Stan, who has turned one of TV’s savviest NBA analysts, told me a few days ago that the Magic appear to be building an interesting roster of young players — except for one key component.
“The question I asked the Magic, it’s not wrong because it’s hard to find these guys, but do they have a star that they can build around them? Do they have a player who can be a cornerstone, someone you can make in the fourth quarter of the playoffs Players who have the ball. I’m not saying they don’t, but it’s hard to say definitively that they do.”
Memo to Stan and the rest of the NBA:
They do so now.
His name is Paolo Banchero and I’m following suit.
cheer up, baby.
Next stop, the 2025 NBA Finals!
Email me [email protected]. Connect with me on Twitter @BianchiWrites and tune in to my Open Mike radio show every Sunday from 6am to 9:30am on FM 96.9, AM 740 and HD 101.1-2