Orlando Magic head coach says Paolo Banchero is combination of LeBron James, Jayson Tatum and Carmelo Anthony

Jesse Cinquini
4 Min Read

Orlando Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley recently said that forward Paolo Banchero is a combination of Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum and Carmelo Anthony.

“Because the game has changed so much over the years with players getting more talented and higher IQs, you have to give combinations,” Mosley told HoopsHype. “Paolo is a combination of Carmelo, LeBron and Tatum. There are different combinations of things they possess. The passing skills. The ability to score in different areas. The power that they possess. Franz (Wagner) is between a mixture of Khris Middleton, Kawhi (Leonard) and Kevin Durant in the footwork. There are so many aspects these guys take from each one of those guys. You don’t want to label them as just this or that person. There’s a combination of each one that they possess because they study the game and they watch all these great players.”

Banchero was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft following a one-season stint playing college basketball at Duke University. He was arguably the best forward in the nation during his time as a Blue Devil, as he averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game in 39 appearances with the team during the 2021-22 season (all starts). Banchero also scored the ball with impressive accuracy from the field, seeing as he converted 47.8 percent of his field-goal attempts.

The 6-foot-10 forward’s contributions translated into a whole lot of success for the 2021-22 iteration of the Blue Devils. They finished the season with an excellent 32-7 record and made it all the way to the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four, where they lost to the University of North Carolina by a final score of 81-77. Banchero finished with a team-high 20 points in the loss and converted eight of his 17 field-goal attempts.

The 20-year-old has played one season in the NBA with the Magic franchise. He averaged 20.0 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 0.8 steals per game in 72 games played with Orlando during the 2022-23 regular season (all starts). Banchero earned himself trips to the free-throw line with impressive frequency for a rookie, as he averaged 7.4 free-throw attempts and 5.5 makes per game.

Those numbers were good enough for Banchero to win the Rookie of the Year award as well as earn a spot on the All-Rookie First Team along with Walker Kessler of the Utah Jazz, Bennedict Mathurin of the Indiana Pacers, Keegan Murray of the Sacramento Kings and Jalen Williams of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Here’s to hoping that Banchero will follow up his fantastic 2022-23 regular season with an even better 2023-24 regular season. An All-Star appearance in his sophomore season is very much a possibility for him.

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Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer covering the Lakers’ dreaded rivals, the Boston Celtics, for SB Nation. He has also covered the New York Knicks for The Knicks Wall.