There were some high expectations facing Paolo Banchero heading into the 2022-23 season after the Orlando Magic selected him with the top overall pick in the NBA Draft back in June, and so far he has lived up to them. In fact, through three games, Banchero accomplished something that guys like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James didn't do. With his production against the Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics, Banchero became the first teenager to score at least 20 points in each of his first three games in NBA history.
In the first game of his career, Banchero, 19, scored 27 points while shooting 11 of 18 from the field against Detroit, while also adding nine rebounds, five assists and two blocks. He followed that up with a 20-point, 12-rebound performance against Atlanta. He also added three blocks and a pair of assists. Against Boston on Saturday night, the Duke product had 23 points, five rebounds, three assists and another block.
Paolo Banchero's 1st 3 NBA games— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) October 23, 2022
27 PT, 9 REB, 5 AST, 2 BLK, 61% FG
20 PTS, 12 REB, 3 BLK
23 PTS, 5 REB, 3 AST, 2 3PTpic.twitter.com/dhofjhw3SD
Physically, Banchero absolutely appears prepared to play at the NBA level, and his skill set is extremely polished for a 19-year-old rookie. Three games in, he's already demanding the respect of his peers. Late in the first half of the contest between Boston and Orlando, Celtics star forward Jayson Tatum decided to switch onto Banchero defensively after the rookie appeared to be getting comfortable on the offensive end.
"Regardless of who it is, any NBA player that's comfortable and they hit shots, they start playing with confidence, and then you're in for a ballgame. And that's what happened tonight. And I felt like they were just too comfortable in the beginning. So I decided to guard [Banchero],' Tatum said, via The Athletic. "I take pride in defense, as we all do... That's how you show respect. I'm not going to let it be easy. I'm going to compete. You've gotta go at somebody regardless of if he's 19 or 30. Nobody took it easy on me my first year."
Having one of the league's premier players switch onto you in the first half of a regular season game in October is a pretty big compliment to Banchero, who appears poised for an extremely productive career. Banchero has stated that he'd like to win Rookie of the Year this season, and if he continues to play as he has through three games, he'll have a great shot of doing so.