Orlando Magic Are Shockingly Better With Paolo Banchero On Bench

Paolo Banchero, Magic, NBA
Feb 17, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero (5) competes in the Kia Skills Challenge during NBA All Star Saturday Night at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero has taken his game to another level in his second season in the NBA. The first overall pick in 2022 made his first All-Star game and is a driving force in the Magic being in the thick of the playoff picture this season.

The 2022-23 Rookie of the Year is averaging 23 points, 6.9 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.1 steals in 35 minutes per game. If he can keep those numbers up throughout the remainder of the season, he will join a very exclusive group.

To this point, there have only been four players, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Luka Doncic and LaMelo Ball, to average at least 22-5-5 in a season when 21 years of age or younger. Banchero could become the fifth player to do so, as James and Doncic each did it twice.

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Paolo Banchero & Orlando Magic Updates

He has quickly become the go-to player for the Magic, as the ball is in his hands when in crunch time. He has made seven shots this season on 16 attempts to tie or take the lead in the final minute of a game or overtime. That is second behind Golden State Warriors star, Stephen Curry.

The Duke product is one of the better young players in the NBA, but oddly enough, the Magic are actually better with him on the bench than on the court. As shared by John Schuhmann of NBA.com, Orlando is more efficient when Banchero is on the bench.

“The Magic have been 8.4 points per 100 possessions better with him off the floor (plus-7.1) than they’ve been with him on the floor (minus-13). That’s the worst on-off differential among All-Stars, though there are three others – Bam Adebayo, Jaylen Brown and Stephen Curry – whose teams have been worse with them on the floor,” wrote Shuhmann.

Given how well his statistic imply he has been playing, and how important he is to their game plan down the stretch, seeing that the Magic are better with Banchero on the bench than on the court is certainly odd. The big difference comes on the defensive side of the ball.

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Paolo Banchero & Orlando Magic Updates

With Banchero on the court, Orlando has a defensive rating of 113.4. With him off the court, that rating improves to an impressive 104.4, a 9.0 difference. That is a much wider gap than the offensive rating difference of 112.1 on and 111.6 off.

For the Magic, and Banchero, to reach that next level, he needs to improve defensively. That is one thing holding him back currently, as he is someone the franchise is building around but is too much of a one-way player. Improving on defense will certainly be a focus for Banchero going forward.

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