Height - 6’10
Weight - 250 lbs
Wingspan - 7’1
Banchero was the headlining star of Coach K’s final recruiting class at Duke. He was brought in to provide shot creation and rebounding. Banchero provided that in abundance at the collegiate level and led Duke to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament.
All of that being said, Banchero is a polarising player to try and understand. His game has incredible highs but also crashing lows. Paolo is a refined, savvy creator on the ball who would be valuable for quite a few NBA teams.
However, a lot of questions came to mind when I was going through my player study. How does a player like Banchero survive in the NBA without being able to guard anybody? How does he adjust his game to meet the athletic level of the NBA?
Answering those questions is still rather difficult. Banchero’s ceiling is dependent on swing skills such as defense and outside shooting. If those both come around, Paolo could be an All-NBA talent in the mould of Chris Webber or Blake Griffin.
Banchero’s shot creation in his greatest strength. Banchero can seemingly create shots at will in the mid-range area through a combination of size and patience. It was a common for Duke to run quick post-up possession in which Paolo could attack the defense.
The post-up provided plenty of opportunities for Banchero to deploy his dribbles and spin away from the defense into easy layups. Post-ups also allowed Paolo to leverage his threat of his strength and create good shots.
You would often see defenses overload the low block in the hope of slowing Paolo down. Banchero would counter the pressure with a sweet mid-range jumper or a dish to a cutting team-mate. He orchestrated out of the post effectively or sometimes completed rejected post-up altogether.
Rejecting the post-up would get Banchero into his bread and butter, his face-up game. Banchero is proficient at knocking down pull-up jumpers in the mid-range area. Facing up to the defense provides him with plenty of opportunities to extract the most out of his strengths.
His play in the mid-range was smart, polished and cerebral. Paolo used his tools to manipulate the opposing defense and get to the basket without being contested.
On the other hand, Banchero is an unwilling defensive player who lacks effort. Banchero makes little attempt to stay attached to his man and will switch assignment if he is beaten on the play. Occasionally, Banchero will have a strong play on defense but those moments are few and far between. His inconsistency hinders his team’s ability to play solid, stingy defense.
I am also concerned about Banchero’s size and athleticism for his position. Paolo is quite small and does not have the athleticism to compensate for being undersized. He is a decent run-jump athlete who has been able to succeed in lower level competition by being stronger than the majority of his opponents.
He will not enjoy the same physical advantages in the NBA which could make his transition to professional basketball pretty rough. Over the last ten years, we have seen the likes of Julius Randle, Marvin Bagley and Jahlil Okafor all struggle with the same problem.
Paolo’s fit the Thunder would also require accommodation. Banchero will need a steady diet of touches down low to be productive on the court. Putting the ball in his hands takes away touches from SGA and Giddey. The addition of Banchero may disrupt the Thunder’s offensive balance and push the team towards an isolation-heavy style of play.
Paolo Banchero has the potential to be an excellent player in the future but I do not think he makes sense for the Thunder. There are simply too many concerns for me to feel comfortable with taking Banchero so high in the Draft.