Under the bright and glitzy lights of Las Vegas, two franchises caught a glimpse of their future stars in action. Playin in the NBA’s Summer League, Paolo Banchero — the #1 pick from the Orlando Magic — scored 17 points and led his team to victory against the Houston Rockets and Jabari Smith — the #2 pick in the draft — who netted just 10 points.
The Magic defeated the Rockets 91-77 in the first official NBA Summer League game for both teams, but all eyes were on the first two players selected in the draft.
Banchero made the Magic’s scouts and front office feel good about themselves when he scored 17 points in 26 minutes, while Smith struggled with just 10 points in 31 minutes.
The Magic surprised onlookers on draft night when they selected Banchero from Duke over Smith from Auburn with the #1 pick, even though Smith was the consensus top pick in mostly everyone’s mock draft. Numerous mock drafts also had Banchero going third to the Rockets, so the two players flip-flopped positions.
Chet Holmgren from Gonzaga was slated to get picked second, and the Oklahoma City Thunder stuck to the script, drafting the lanky 7-foot-1 center. Holmgren dazzled in his NBA Summer League debut the other night with 23 points and six blocked shots.
The Magic and Rockets are both moon shots at +200000 odds to win the 2023 NBA championship.
Banchero vs Smith
In just 26 minutes of floor time, Banchero scored 17 points, six assists, four rebounds, and one steal. He shot 5-for-12 from the floor, including 2-for-3 from 3-point range. He also knocked down all five of his free throws.
Before he fouled out, Banchero finished the night with a plus/minus rating of +20. He committed just two turnovers.
Despite being 6-foot-10, Banchero handled point guard duties most of the night.
“I’ve got the ball in my hands a lot, and provide scoring, assisting, rebounding for the team,” said Banchero. “So, just doing that and then also being better on defense. I think I did all right, but I can be a lot better.”
Banchero knows there’s extra pressure on him as the #1 pick, but then again, he also has “NO PRESSURE” tattooed on his forearm.
“I’ve always dealt with pressure well, been able to handle it,” added Banchero, who led Duke to the Final Four in March Madness. “At the end of the day, it’s just basketball. There’s gonna be all the pressure, all the noise in the world, but at the end of the day, you got to go out there and hoop against five other guys.”
Smith played a team-high 31 minutes for the Magic, tallying 10 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and one steal. He shot 4-for-10 from the floor, but struggled with a 1-for-4 clip from 3-point range.
Despite a slow start, Smith found his groove in the second half and played much better.
“I had nerves coming into it,” said Smith. “It was just tough, you know what I’m saying? Figuring it out. Just a different style of play, you know, first NBA game. It was fun, but I’m ready for the next one.”