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Magic’s Paolo Banchero wins Rookie of the Year in landslide

Orlando Magic v Miami Heat

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JANUARY 27: Paolo Banchero #5 of the Orlando Magic in action against the Miami Heat during the first quarter at Miami-Dade Arena on January 27, 2023 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

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The result wasn’t a surprise — Paolo Banchero was this class’s standout rookie from the season’s opening tip. Maybe the only surprise is it wasn’t unanimous.

The Magic’s Banchero won the Rookie of the Year award in a landslide, getting 98 of the 100 first-place votes.

Jalen Williams from the Thunder came in second and Jazz center Walker Kessler was third (Kessler got the other two first-place votes. Only the Pacers’ Bennedict Mathurian, the Kings’ Keegan Murray, and the Pistons’ Jaden Ivey also got votes. Here’s a look at the voting:

ROY voting

What separated Banchero from the pack for me — he was on top of my ballot — was more was asked of him than any other rookie. The Magic gave him the keys to the franchise and asked him to be the primary shot creator from Day One. Banchero finished the season averaging 20 points,6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists a game.

While Banchero’s efficiency slipped as the season went on — and at the same time Williams and Kessler’s numbers got better — this race was never close because of the load Banchero was asked to carry. Williams and Kessler played roles off the primary shot creators on their teams, Banchero had to be that shot creator.

Williams averaged 14.1 points a game for the Thunder and will be part of whatever is built around Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in OKC. Kessler may have been better this year than the guy he was traded for, Rudy Gobert.