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Jamal Crawford explains what top pick Paolo Banchero means for Seattle

A Seattle, Washington native, Paolo Banchero proudly represents his hometown. Whether on or off the court, Banchero often shows his love for the Pacific Northwest and they give it back to him right away.

He recently returned to town and is among the players who competed in this summer’s CrawsOver Pro-Am, an annual league created by NBA legend Jamal Crawford. Alongside Chet Holmgren, Banchero put on a show and lost 50 points.

Banchero is among the growing number of players moving out of the state into the NBA. With Crawford now retired, the area claims several other current players including Zach LaVine, Jaden McDaniels, Dejounte Murray and Isaiah Thomas among others.

When the Orlando Magic picked Banchero first in the NBA draft, the city of Seattle was put back on the map. He played basketball every step of the way — including high school and AAU — in his hometown before leaving for Duke last season.

By all accounts, the city has embraced its star in the making.

Speaking to For The Win’s Bryan Kalbrosky, Crawford said picking Banchero as the top pick will have a lasting impact on the next generation of players in the region.

It means everything to Seattle, to be honest. 25 years ago we sent more boys to college for football than for basketball. So our ascent has only recently begun. So we saw someone who had been playing AAU for Seattle Rotary, which is right in the heart of the city, since third grade and stuck to the same program the whole time. Then he could become number 1 in the overall ranking.

This applies to adults, but also to children. He’s the guy my son looks up to and the younger generations look up to. They will say: ‘This is Paolo! I remember when he was a freshman in high school.’ They held on to it and watched him go to Duke and play for the legendary Coach K and then be No. 1 overall pick from the same streets we walk and the same gyms we shoot , is inspirational for the younger generation.

Banchero recently credited Crawford with helping get him through various basketball events in Seattle. Crawford got Banchero to play in the Pro-Am in high school, which in turn allowed him to play against bigger competitors and hone his skills.

Crawford has also offered Banchero plenty of advice over the years that ultimately helped shape the player and person he is today. During his 20 years in the NBA, Crawford has established himself as a great teammate and mentor, and Banchero is another player who learned from him.

The three-time sixth man of the year will continue to give back to City as much as he can, but it will now be up to Banchero and others to continue that effort.

Banchero will have no problem with that.

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