The Washington Wizards have the 10th-best lottery odds for the 2022 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select....
2022 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Profile: Paolo Banchero
2021/22 stats: 39 G, 17.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.9 bpg, 47.8 FG% (6.3/13.2), 33.8 3PT% (1.1/3.3), 72.9 FT% (3.5/4.8)
Player comparison: Carmelo Anthony, Julius Randle
5 things to know:
-Banchero is one of three players at the top of this class (Jabari Smith Jr. and Chet Holmgren the others) who are of similar height and could end up playing the same position in the NBA, but play very different styles and come in different shapes. While Holmgren is the lanky Unicorn, Banchero is the rock-solid bruiser, coming in at a Julius Randle-like 250 pounds. But it's not just strength that sets Banchero apart, it's his skillset for his size as he's a uniquely gifted scorer, able to make plays at all three levels and create for himself off the dribble. Banchero is very advanced as a playmaker off the dribble for his age and position, and appears to have the potential to be a 20-point scorer and perennial All-Star.
-Due to his size, Banchero has been widely compared to Randle who has developed into a well-rounded offensive player at the NBA level. Banchero, though, has the potential to be even better because he's further along than Randle was at this age and is a more mobile athlete. In an absolute best-case, everything breaks right scenario, he could be a scorer in the mold of Anthony or Jayson Tatum, as he's taller than those two but with guard-like skills. Banchero has great instincts for getting defenders off-balance to score with pull-up jumpers and midrange fadeaways. He's also an above average passer for his position.
-Banchero will need to continue to improve as an outside shooter as his career progresses. He shot an unspectacular 33.8% from long range in his one season at Duke. For the sake of comparison, that's nearly identical to what Tatum shot in his lone college season (34.2%), which was also at Duke. With one-and-done guys it's always worth taking a closer look at the trajectory, given one season is ultimately a small sample size. For Banchero, that trajectory showed improvement down the stretch of his freshman year, as he shot 45% from three in his final 11 games which culminated in a Final Four run in the NCAA Tournament. There doesn't appear to be anything inherently wrong with Banchero's shooting mechanics, so he has that going for him.
-There are mixed opinions about Banchero's defensive potential, as he has yet to show consistency on that end of the floor. He has the size and the athleticism to be a solid defender and has even shown flashes as a rim-protector, but it's not a big part of his game at this juncture, hence the Anthony comparison. Banchero may be known much more for his scoring in the NBA, which could be good enough to make him a star regardless of his defense.
-Banchero's mother, Rhonda, played in the WNBA. She was also a decorated college player at the University of Washington, near where Banchero grew up in Seattle.
Fit with Wizards:
In order to have a chance to draft Banchero, the Wizards would need some luck in Tuesday night's lottery. They have the 10th-best odds and to get him would likely have to move up at least into the top-4, if not the top-3. Their odds of selecting 1-4 are 13.9% and top-3 would be 9.9%. If they were picking third or fourth and landed Banchero, it would probably mean either Jaden Ivey was already off the board or the Wizards saw Banchero as the best player available, regardless of their short-term positional needs.
Initially, Banchero would encounter a crowded group of forwards on the Wizards' depth chart. There would be some overlap between him and Rui Hachimura, Kyle Kuzma and Deni Avdija. But given his potential and where he would be drafted, the Wizards would have to find a place for him in the rotation and probably at the expense of others. While he likely wouldn't light the league on fire immediately, Banchero has an advanced enough offensive skillset to make an initial impact as a secondary scorer. Over time, the hope would be he develops into a star who at his peak could compete for scoring titles.
Early on, Banchero could help the Wizards form some dynamic offensive lineups with his size and skillset alongside Kristaps Porzingis in the frontcourt and with Bradley Beal on the perimeter. If the Wizards could play Banchero with Kuzma and Porzingis, they would have three players 6-foot-10 or taller with unique versatility. It would be a difficult frontline to stop. The one question would be how Banchero fits in an offense that at the moment lacks outside shooting, given Banchero does a lot of his damage in isolation. Long-term, Banchero would likely take the place of either Kuzma or Hachimura as both have only one year left on their contracts and play the same position.
2022 NBA Draft profiles: