Rookie Paolo Banchero has received plenty of fanfare by scoring at least 20 points in each of his first six games to begin his NBA career.
Banchero also has shown that he’s willing to distribute the basketball following his season-high seven-assist performance in the Orlando Magic’s 113-93 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Friday.
The top overall pick of the 2022 NBA Draft will look to fill the box score yet again on Sunday when the Magic visit Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks.
Banchero, 19, collected 21 points and 12 rebounds to pace the Magic to their first win of the season on Friday.
He is averaging 23.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.3 blocks this season. His 141 points over the first six games of his NBA career trail only Hall of Fame member Shaquille O’Neal for the most in franchise history.
“People hit me up after the games, text me all these stats,” Banchero said. “Not even to sound full of myself or anything but this is kind of what I expected out of myself — playing at this level and being able to score. I feel like I’ve been blessed by God with the body, skill and IQ. What I’m doing is kind of what I expect to be doing.”
Orlando coach Jamahl Mosley told reporters that he is seeing his young star learn with each passing game.
“The one thing he continues to do is pick up as games go on,” Mosley said. “He’s learning it, he’s slowing it down, he’s understanding it, knowing the pace of the game — he’s doing a great job of communicating. It goes back to his ability to trust his teammates and his teammates to trust in him.”
Franz Wagner is averaging 15.8 points and 4.0 assists this season, while Wendell Carter Jr. adds 14.0 and a team-high 9.2 rebounds.
The Magic will be facing a Mavericks team that has ventured past regulation in each of its past two games. Dallas posted a 129-125 overtime victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday and a 117-111 loss in OT to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday.
The Mavericks failed to hold a 16-point lead with under four minutes to play in the fourth quarter on Saturday. Dallas didn’t help itself by making 8 of 40 shots from 3-point range, with Doncic misfiring on all six attempts from beyond the arc. He finished 8 of 23 overall from the floor and scored 31 points, thanks to a 15-of-19 performance at the free-throw line.
“It’s on me,” Doncic said of the Mavericks’ fourth-quarter collapse. “I didn’t lead the team. I didn’t make shots. That game’s on me. I didn’t do what (was) needed to do to win.”
To be fair, Doncic recorded his second straight triple-double. He collected 41 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds against the Nets and 31, 10 and 16 versus the Thunder.
A three-time All-Star, Doncic averaged 28.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists last season in two games against Orlando. The teams each won on their home court in the season series.
Spender Dinwiddie scored 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the floor on Saturday.
–Field Level Media