Paolo Banchero began his Duke career with a 22-point, seven-rebound outing vs. then-No. 10 Kentucky that thrust him into frontrunner status to be the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. He finished his Duke career with 20 points and 10 boards vs. North Carolina in the Final Four and retained his standing as a legitimate contender to be this year’s top pick.
The appeal with Banchero lies in his polish. He’s an incredible offensive weapon who thrives in the mid-range. He can create his own separation in tight windows and pull-up over defenders, with a blend of modern and old-age finesse that’s tantalizing. He’s a smart cutter. Makes smart passing reads. You can put him on the elbow and run your offense through him, with his fast processing speed being an ever-present threat for defenses.
Banchero’s background was first as a guard before it was as a dual-threat power forward. He grew up playing guard before hitting a growth spurt of six inches just before high school. He carried those lessons throughout high school and into college, making him one of the better passers at his position in recent memory. When he grabs a board, he can run the break and go coast-to-coast like he’s 6-foot-4.
Shooting it from deep and defending at a high level are the only two things keeping him from becoming the consensus top prospect. He can knock down 3-pointers, but he made just 33.8% of them at Duke. He can defend and hold up physically, but switching onto the perimeter and maintaining effort and focus was hit or miss at times in college.
Whoever takes a bet on him is betting on those coming together. There’s no question he’ll be a dynamic weapon on offense for years to come. The playmaking out of the short roll and scoring in the mid-range are two staples of his game…