August 16, 2022

Paolo Banchero enters a new world.

That should be very clear from his first Summer League training sessions. Everything is growing.

Where Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski draws on his experience to teach, Jamahl Mosley will be on the front line with you. He’ll be there bumping and grinding trying to push a player to do more. It helps that he’s 30 years younger and still in good enough shape to do it.

So when the Magic finished their second Summer League training session with some post drills for their biggest forwards, Mosley was there to guard the first overall pick – the 6-foot-10, 250 forward. books.

It was Mosley who stopped the drill even after Banchero passed him for a dunk and told him how he will have to do it against the bigger players he will face when the NBA season ends.

It was Mosley encouraging Banchero to really get inside and get his man out of his place even in this drill by pulling assistant coach Nate Tibbetts to the block and showing how he wants him to get into his space and establish his position.

Then he let Banchero throw all his strength at him to complete the exercise. This is the energy that magic seeks.

These are just exercises for the Summer League. They’re not the competition Banchero will see when the season kicks off in the fall. But it is a symbol of how much the level of competition is about to intensify.

There are no half measures in the NBA and the Magic are already trying to unlock everything about Banchero that they may not even know about themselves.

“I use my body a lot and efficiently in college,” Banchero said after practice on Sunday. “It was one thing about this time last year coming into college that Coach K really helped me with. Just the difference here is in the league, I think you can be more physical. It’s just me getting used to it and using it to my advantage I’m a great physical just being able to use this to my advantage and being physical is what the coach Mosley asks me to do.

Some stories remain the same. And that will be part of the evolution of Banchero.

As Mosley said, Banchero is a “very strong individual”. But he still doesn’t know how strong he really is. And that’s what the team aims to teach him and grow in him as they build their Summer League programme.

The Orlando Magic are working with top overall pick Paolo Banchero in their Summer League sessions as they look to unlock more of their young forward.

The Magic began training for the Summer League in Orlando before heading to Las Vegas. They open the NBA Summer League on Thursday against the Houston Rockets. It will be a small thing but a big start for Banchero as he steps onto the professional pitch for the first time.

Banchero said even walking into the AdventHealth practice facility for his first practice felt a bit like NBA 2K. Dreams come true.

But the job is what follows. And, with the pressure of being the first pick in the draft, high expectations hang over Banchero.

There’s a lot to learn as the team lays its foundation.

“He’s going to have a lot to do,” Mosley said after practice on Sunday. “That’s part of laying the groundwork for what he’s going to see in the regular season. How fast he takes it, how he understands it, the ability to play into himself and allow the game to slow down for him at the rate he’s growing in. He’s a willing listener, a willing learner, and obviously a great teammate for these guys so far.

Banchero said he knew he played with a target behind his back. This has been the case throughout his young career, even after entering Duke. It’s also what accompanies the No. 1 pick — it’s no coincidence that the NBA has scheduled the Magic to face teams with the next three draft picks to create marquee matchups.

But a lot more is being thrown at him right now. There is new NBA terminology and everything is coming faster. Banchero said NBA practices tend to move a bit faster and there’s definitely more physicality involved in stepping up the game.

It’s still a process to get there. Early Summer League training was spent on drills to master terminology and ensure they understand the basics and concepts of what the team will be performing.

The Magic are slowly getting ready to play 5v5 and go up and down – something everyone is looking forward to. This will be where Banchero will get his real test.

For his part, Banchero, in the short term, said he was focused on winning and could contribute to the victory. This is his biggest goal for the Summer League.

These matches will represent the first 5-on-5 matches Banchero has participated in since the Final Four in April – and, for many players, since the end of their seasons.

There is a lot of work to be done to bring the team up to full speed.

Third-year guard RJ Hampton said he was impressed with how rookies Paolo Banchero and Caleb Houstan performed on drills. He said their attention to detail was strong, as they were eager to learn.

Banchero said Hampton pulled him aside to let him know he could be more physical at this point. The tricks of the trade are already being transmitted.

There’s plenty to be excited about and everyone seems eager for Thursday and the preparation.

“He’s just a versatile player,” Hampton said after practice on Sunday. “That’s why we picked him No. 1. I feel like he’s the most complete player in this last draft and he can bring everything to our team – rebounding, scoring, passing. His ability to know every part of the game is what is truly underrated.

There is still work to be done until then. And the magic is seemingly slowly building to get to this point.

The only thing they seem to be telling their precious recruit is how big a step up this moment is going to be. There’s more to Banchero than he probably doesn’t even realize yet. These sessions aim to build the confidence needed to bring that out.

He’ll go one bump and one game and one practice at a time to get him there. All eyes will be on him in Vegas.