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Soar on the Paolo bandwagon simply because the Magic are now likely spots | Commentary


I’m not only leaping on the Paolo Banchero bandwagon.

I’m driving the father-gum thing!

Hop on, newborn.

The Orlando Magic are headed to the 2025 NBA Finals.

2026 at the newest!

On a franchise altering Thursday night, the Magic drafted 6-foot-10, 250-pound Duke manchild Paolo Banchero with the No. 1 total decide in the 2022 NBA Draft. I know, I know, I’m breaking my very long-standing coverage about not having overly enthusiastic above the crapshoot acknowledged as the NBA Draft and not anticipating way too substantially from a 19-12 months-previous child who has only played just one calendar year of higher education basketball. And, no, I’m not heading to produce the mundane, compulsory sentence that sports activities columnists create right after just about every draft in any activity: “We won’t know for a pair of decades if Jeff Weltman, the Magic’s president of basketball operations, manufactured the right pick.”

This is not a evening to be real looking or rational this is not a evening to be cynical or skeptical this is not a night to preserve wallowing in the distress of obtaining the losingest franchise in the NBA in excess of the past 10 decades.

No, no, no. This is a night to be elated and ecstatic and joyous and jubilant a night time to permit your imagination run wild with the intoxicating options.

Just like the hundreds of Magic enthusiasts who were being at the NBA Draft celebration at the Amway Centre on Thursday night who erupted when Banchero’s identify was introduced and confetti fell from the ceiling.

There will be time afterwards to come back down to earth and recall the Magic had the next-worst document in the league this year and are still years absent from contending for any championships, but this was a night time when Magic lovers could dare to desire all over again.

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Can you consider it? Can you conceive it? Right after all the Mario Hezonjas, Elfrid Paytons and Aaron Gordons, the Magic ultimately drafted a player who supporters think with all their hearts is likely to be a star just like the other No. 1 over-all picks in franchise history.

Shift above, Dwight.

Transfer in excess of, Shaq.

Transfer about, Penny (by using Chris Webber).

Make home for Paolo.

I do not care what Weltman stated ahead of the draft about not putting undue pressure on the Magic’s decide by labeling him a superstar, experience-of-the-franchise player prior to he’s at any time played a minute in the NBA.

“Predicting stars,” Weltman mentioned, “is a fool’s errand.”

Then simply call me a idiot.

Call me an fool.

Contact me an NBA Draft illiterate, but just don’t forget the place you heard it to start with.

Paolo Banchero is heading to be a superstar.

Paolo Banchero has to be a superstar.

He’s heading to be awesome, extraordinary, outstanding. He’s heading to be the 2nd coming of Chris Webber or it’s possible Chris Bosh.

Listen to what current Arkansas and previous NBA head coach Eric Musselman, who had to test to discover a way to prevent Banchero through the NCAA Event, had to say about him in an job interview with The Athletic: “He was the 1 we just experienced no respond to for. Our scouting report could not consider everything away from him. When they required a basket, it went to him.”

Listen to what CBSSports.com wrote about him: “Banchero was the greatest freshman in school hoops very last year, he led his staff to the Last Four, he has an NBA-all set body, he has a litany of skills and is 1 of the most effective passing bigs in this year’s draft. There has never been a minute where by his competencies did not translate/challenge to remaining a fantastic mix of old-university mobile huge and present day participate in-thru energy forward. He is the most NBA-completely ready player in this draft.”

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Weltman is appropriate when he suggests it’s not reasonable to heap that kind of pressure on a draft choose, but you know what else isn’t honest? Inquiring followers to endure a decade of distress, malaise and numerous iterations of rebuilds with no at any time owning a participant on their staff who actually excites them and ignites them.

It’s been much more than 10 decades given that the best mentor in Magic background (Stan Van Gundy) was coaching the finest player in Magic history (Dwight Howard) to superstardom, and Magic lovers have been bereft of a star at any time since. Stan, who has pivoted to turn into one particular of television’s most astute NBA analysts, advised me a couple of days in the past that the Magic feel to be making an intriguing youthful roster — other than for a single critical part.

“My issue with the Magic, and this is not a fault since it’s hard to obtain those people men, but do they have a star they can build close to? Do they have a participant who can be a cornerstone dude, a person you get the ball to in the fourth quarter of a playoff match. I’m not stating they never, but it would be really hard to say definitively that they do.”

Memo to Stan and the relaxation of the NBA:

They do now.

His identify is Paolo Banchero, and I’m driving the bandwagon.

Hop on, baby.

Next prevent, NBA Finals, 2025!

Electronic mail me at mbianchi@orlandosentinel.com. Strike me up on Twitter @BianchiWrites and listen to my Open up Mike radio exhibit just about every weekday from 6 to 9:30 a.m. on FM 96.9, AM 740 and Hd 101.1-2

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