First overall winner Paolo Banchero gets his first insight into the basic principles of Orlando Magic

ORLANDO- “Be physical.” “Communicate.” “Squeeze the ball.”

These are some of the phrases that continually echo through the AdventHealth Practice Grounds at the Amway Center as the Orlando Magic conduct their summer league practices.

For rookie Paolo Banchero, who was selected first in the 2022 NBA Draft, it is his first exposure to a number of key principles that define Magic’s identity. Team principles, defensive priorities, coverage, offensive positioning and terminology have all been part of Orlando’s Summer League crash course over the past 24 hours and two practice sessions.

“We get them to understand the foundation that we’re building first, so they understand the concepts, they understand the terminology, the things that we’re trying to achieve from the ground up,” said Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley. “Going forward we will play two-minute games and three-minute games.”

Even in practice sessions, it’s clear that Banchero has a set of tools that the team covets. The 6’10 forward possesses a unique blend of cunning, suppleness, power and vision that makes him an absolute force on offense. On the defensive side, he’s another versatile character available to Mosley thanks to his size and skill.

Through two-day practice sessions – focused primarily on offensive and defensive installations – Banchero has flashed these elements along with a high will to learn.

“What I’m watching more is his willingness and understanding of the game,” Mosley said. “He’s obviously a fantastic teammate who pushes guys (and) tries to learn the ins and outs of the NBA system, calls. There’s a lot coming his way, and he’s done a great job of embracing it. He’s not afraid to ask questions. Just keep learning and be willing to learn.”

Magic coaches and veteran players like RJ Hampton and Devin Cannady were constantly listening in on his ears as the Duke graduate tries to soak up every bit of knowledge before the team heads to Las Vegas. Like last year, their head coach has worked with him one-on-one – along with other players – continuing his hands-on approach that had such an impact on Orlando’s young core last season.

“Coach Mose can get down to earth and demonstrate things a lot more than Coach K,” Banchero joked when asked to compare Mosley and former legendary Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. “They are both great teachers.”

Through a few work sessions with Banchero in the post, Mosley has felt firsthand the physical tools Banchero has in his arsenal. And he’s trying to get him to use his power and strength even more when the rookie takes the NBA stage for the first time in the Summer League on July 7 in Las Vegas.

“He’s a very strong person,” marveled the Magic head coach. “I don’t even think he understands how strong he really is. That’s the great thing about his willingness to learn and ask questions. He will figure out how to use his body in different ways to obviously punish defenses but then defensively how to defend multiple positions.

It was a whirlwind for the fourth first overall pick in franchise history. From hearing his name on draft night to stepping into the gym for the first time, he was stunned by the experience.

“As I walked from the[hallway]to the gym, I told myself going to the gym in MyPlayer mode made me feel a little bit like I was on 2K,” Banchero said.

While it’s clear he’s still trying to digest all the play calls, positioning and terminology that’s being asked of him, he clearly already has a grasp of what’s important to his head coach and his new organization.

“I think I’ll be a great fit,” Banchero said of his new team. “We’re going to be a really good defensive team, we’re going to play hard, we’re going to get a lot of little things right. I think I’ll fit in well. I’ll be able to play anywhere, defend anywhere and just go head-to-head with these guys.”

Sounds like he has a good understanding of the basic principles of Magic.

Summer League Training: Paolo Banchero (7/3)

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