Magic's Paolo Banchero Delights NBA Twitter in Summer League Matchup vs. Jabari Smith

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJuly 8, 2022

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 07: Paolo Banchero #5 of the Orlando Magic drives against Jabari Smith Jr. #1 of the Houston Rockets during the 2022 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 07, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero enjoyed a sensational summer-league debut on Thursday, as the 2022 NBA draft's No. 1 overall pick posted 17 points, six assists and four rebounds in a 91-77 win over the Houston Rockets.

Banchero began hot with a pair of three-pointers and a fadeaway mid-range jumper in the first seven minutes.

Orlando Magic @OrlandoMagic

PAOLO πŸ’°<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MagicSummer?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MagicSummer</a> x <a href="https://twitter.com/AdventHealth?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AdventHealth</a> <a href="https://t.co/gOtxJ30YN0">pic.twitter.com/gOtxJ30YN0</a>

Orlando Magic @OrlandoMagic

that's smooooth <a href="https://twitter.com/Pp_doesit?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Pp_doesit</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MagicSummer?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MagicSummer</a> x <a href="https://twitter.com/AdventHealth?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AdventHealth</a> <a href="https://t.co/8cmb6Qtkat">pic.twitter.com/8cmb6Qtkat</a>

Orlando Magic @OrlandoMagic

Paolo with the stepback 🀧<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MagicSummer?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MagicSummer</a> x <a href="https://twitter.com/AdventHealth?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AdventHealth</a> <a href="https://t.co/xPn3AG4v5F">pic.twitter.com/xPn3AG4v5F</a>

The ex-Duke star's scorching start got NBA Twitter talking.

Kevin Pelton @kpelton

Seeing a lot of shot making from Paolo Banchero early (8 points on 3-of-3 shooting) but I also liked him drawing a foul on Jabari Smith Jr. with a hard duck-in and forcing a turnover with active defense.

Sam Vecenie @Sam_Vecenie

Also obviously a nasty start from Paolo. Hitting shots at a high level. Footwork is outstanding. Loved how, even in moments where he hasn't gotten the ball, he's tried to duck in on switches and get smalls stuck on him in mismatches. Looks like what you'd hope for.

Bryan Toporek @btoporek

It has taken less than one quarter of his summer league debut for Paolo Banchero to answer why the Magic took him at No. 1.

Banchero's passing skills were on full display, like when he stole an errant Rockets dish, ran up the floor and found Caleb Houstan for a corner three:

Orlando Magic @OrlandoMagic

rook to rook πŸͺ„<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MagicSummer?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MagicSummer</a> x <a href="https://twitter.com/AdventHealth?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AdventHealth</a> <a href="https://t.co/zcc4W4pzvN">pic.twitter.com/zcc4W4pzvN</a>

The Magic played through Banchero with great success.

Kevin Clark @bykevinclark

Point Paolo: <a href="https://t.co/W21OZubtwk">pic.twitter.com/W21OZubtwk</a>

StatMuse @statmuse

Paolo Banchero scored or assisted in 14 of the Magic’s first 17 points.<br><br>He’s a perfect 3-3 FG and 2-2 3P to start. <a href="https://t.co/ixyFSrS5pj">pic.twitter.com/ixyFSrS5pj</a>

The 6'10", 250-pound Banchero's skills got people talking, but so did his size.

Alec Sturm @Alec_Sturm

So… Paolo is super big and super skilled. All in on this dude.

Brad Rowland @BTRowland

I had the same reaction at the Final Four when I saw him in person, but at least three people on press row have already relayed a version of "holy s***, Paolo is huge"

It's only summer-league play, but it's easy to see that Banchero is just built different.

Michael Gallagher @MikeSGallagher

We didn’t get too much info on the No. 1 pick market on draft night, but we finally got some medicals on Paolo Banchero. <a href="https://t.co/OHaJ74Q14i">pic.twitter.com/OHaJ74Q14i</a>

Alex Kennedy @AlexKennedyNBA

I can't wait to watch Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner develop together over the next few years. How do you stop a pair of skilled, 6-foot-10 playmakers?!

Khobi Price @khobi_price

What Paolo's doing out here just ain't fair, man lol

It was a quieter night for Rockets forward Jabari Smith Jr., the No. 3 pick in the NBA draft. He finished with 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting, seven rebounds and three assists.

Zach Braziller of the New York Post summed up the two rookie stars' situations Thursday.

Zach Braziller @NYPost_Brazille

The Rockets are basically ignoring Jabari Smith Jr. while the Magic are playing through Paolo Banchero.

The Rockets offense largely revolved around Josh Christopher (22 points, 7-of-18 shooting), while rookie Tari Eason (14 points on 6-of-17 shooting) also got his looks.

Still, Smith had his moments, including a bucket against Banchero's defense and a smooth mid-range jumper.

Houston Rockets @HoustonRockets

Jabari's first bucket! πŸ™Œ <a href="https://t.co/ZUpoKW2mJI">pic.twitter.com/ZUpoKW2mJI</a>

Houston Rockets @HoustonRockets

y'all are going to want to see this πŸ‘€ <a href="https://t.co/RCILSMMcxe">pic.twitter.com/RCILSMMcxe</a>

The Magic and Rockets will both play next on Saturday.

Banchero and the Magic will face No. 4 overall pick Keegan Murray and the Sacramento Kings at 4 p.m. ET.

Smith and the Rockets will go up against No. 2 overall selection Chet Holmgren and the Oklahoma City Thunder at 8 p.m.