NBA Rookie of the Year Watch: Banchero’s Award To Lose

Story posted March 20, 2023 in CommRadio, Sports by Brendan Conroy

The rookie class for the 2022-23 NBA season has been nothing short of dominant. Still, one player seems to be in a category of his own.

There has been only one player to hold the top spot in the race for the Rookie of the Year Award, and he has done so for the better half of the season. He was also drafted first overall in the 2022 NBA draft - Paolo Banchero.

Banchero was drafted to the Orlando Magic from a stellar single season playing at Duke with one goal in mind, to finally bring the Magic a good threat that can attack both in the paint and from the mid-range. Although the Magic’s record does not speak very highly of them, Banchero has done exactly what he was brought in to do.

Before breaking down Banchero’s stats and contributions, let’s take a look at some of the other contenders that have made their mark on the race for Rookie of the Year.

If the season were to end today, we would most likely see the three finalists being Banchero, Utah Jazz big-man Walker Kessler and either Jaden Ivey of the Detroit Pistons, or Jalen Williams of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Some may argue a case for Williams and Ivey, but their impact and stats are far from that of the Magic star for any argument to be relevant.

Kessler, on the other hand, has been able to assert his dominance in the paint all season long, as he currently sits with a shooting percentage of just over 72% on the season.

Although Kessler does not get many minutes on the floor, when he does he can be seen knocking down just about every one of his shots. If that doesn’t make a rookie stand out, not much can. He currently sits in fourth for total blocks on the season.

Banchero, on the other hand, has been consistent in his minutes and has been able to contribute almost 34 minutes per game while also scoring 20 points per game.

The Magic have not found too much success on the season, but looking at how Banchero has performed alone puts him in his own positive light.

There has yet to be a number one overall pick take home the Rookie of the Year Award since Ben Simmons after being the first overall pick in 2018 by the Philadelphia 76ers, and winning the hardware in his first full season after being drafted.

If Banchero is fortunate enough to go home with the honors, he would be the first Duke player since Kyrie Irving to do so.

The 2023 NBA Rookie of the Year Award will be announced following the end of the season, along with the Most Valuable Player, Most Improved Player and the remaining regular season awards fans are patiently waiting to see given out.

Brendan Conroy is a third-year studying broadcast journalism. To contact him email him at