Orlando Magic's Paolo Banchero becomes 4th Duke product named NBA Rookie of the Year | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Tuesday / February 20.
  • Orlando Magic’s Paolo Banchero becomes 4th Duke product named NBA Rookie of the Year

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    Former Duke star Paolo Banchero of the Orlando Magic was named the 2023 NBA Rookie of the Year, the league announced on Tuesday evening.

    Banchero becomes the fourth Blue Devil to win NBA Rookie of the Year honors, joining Grant Hill (1994), Elton Brand (1999) and Kyrie Irving (2011). Duke’s four are second most by a college program all-time and the most by any program over the last 30 years.

    Picked No. 1 overall by the Orlando Magic in the 2022 NBA Draft, Banchero averaged 20.0 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 72 games during his debut year in the league. He burst onto the NBA scene with a 27-point, nine-rebound, five-assist and two-block performance in his first regular season game, becoming the first player since LeBron James with a 25/5/5 stat line in an NBA debut. On Nov. 5, Banchero scored 33 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, joining James as just the second teenager to score at least 30 points while securing at least 15 rebounds in an NBA game.

    He scored 20+ points in 40 games and logged six games with at least 30 points, both the second-most by any Magic rookie. League-wide, Banchero led all rookies in points and ranked third in assists, fourth in steals and fifth in rebounds. 

    Banchero was named the Kia Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for four consecutive months to finish the regular season. He is just the second player in Magic franchise history to be named the league’s Rookie of the Month in four consecutive months, joining Shaquille O’Neal, who accomplished the feat from November 1992 to February of 1993.

    Prior to his breakout rookie year in the NBA, Banchero starred for the 2021-22 Blue Devils team that won the program’s 20th ACC regular season championship, reached the NCAA Tournament for the 44th time, advance to the Final Four for the 17th time and spent the entire season ranked inside the AP top 10.

    The Seattle, Wash., native led Duke in scoring (17.2) and rebounds (7.8) while dishing 3.2 assists. He shot .478 from the field and finished the year with 12 double-doubles on his way to multiple postseason awards that included being named the ACC Freshman of the Year, second-team consensus All-America and the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA West Regional. Banchero became the 31st consensus All-American under former head coach Mike Krzyzewski and the ninth Duke freshman to be named an All-American – joining recent first-year stars Vernon Carey Jr. (2020), RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson in 2019 and Marvin Bagley III (2018). Overall, Banchero was the 75th Duke All-American and the 52nd — and final — under Krzyzewski.

    Prior to his arrival in Durham, Banchero was ranked the No. 3 overall prospect in the ESPN 100’s rankings of the 2021 class and No. 1 at his position. He attended O’Dea High School and became the first Blue Devil player from the state of Washington since now Atlanta Hawks head coach Quin Snyder (Mercer Island) in 1986-89.

    (Release via Duke)

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

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