NBA: Is Banchero the runaway winner for Rookie of the Year?

On an episode of the ‘Old Man and The Three’ podcast, hosts J.J Redick and Tommy Alter pondered whether it is a foregone conclusion that Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero will win this season’s NBA Rookie of the Year award.

Redick outlined that Banchero is a -475 (currently -800) with DraftKings (the show’s sponsor) to win the award with his closest competitor, Indiana’s Benneditch Mathurin, currently at +600. 

Banchero, who went number one overall in the 2022 NBA Draft to the Magic, has taken to the proleague effortlessly, currently averaging 21 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists per game. 

“He’s clearly a guy who has lived up to expectations,” remarked Redick. 

“First Magic rookie to have 30 points and 6 three-pointers made in a game. He was the first guy to go 25 (points) and 5 (assists) in his NBA debut since LeBron, so he’s fun to watch every night and it’s fun to watch really talented players early in their career figure it out on the fly.”

Redick’s former team, the Magic, are currently 14-25 and sit 13th in the Eastern Conference. It is unlikely that Orlando will be making it to the playoffs this year but after praising other young talents such as Franz Wagner and Bol Bol, Redick believes this young Magic team is not too far off from making it to the playoff play-in tournament. 

He commented: “They (Orlando) are 2.5 games back from the play-in game and I think about their team and roster… How good would it be for their development, because they already have talent, to get the opportunity to play in a high-pressure play-in game.”

One team that has a more likely chance of earning a playoff spot is the Indiana Pacers, who Mathurin plays for. Despite primarily coming off the bench, Mathurin has excelled in his rookie year, averaging 17 points per game as the Pacers currently sit 7th in the Eastern Conference. 

Mathurin may not be catching the eyes of onlookers, nor starting as much as Banchero does, but if the 20-year-old forward can become a key contributor in a potential playoff berth for the Pacers, he will certainly be breathing down the neck of Banchero to take home the Rookie of the Year award.