Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young sounds off on Magic’s Paolo Banchero

Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

It doesn’t mean as much in the NBA as it does in other leagues and sports but the Atlanta Hawks and Orlando Magic are division rivals.

That does mean they play each other more than they do other teams around the league. And, with a front-row seat for Magic rookie Paolo Banchero’s Rookie of the Year campaign, Hawks star Trae Young offered up high praise for the No. 1 overall pick of the 2023 NBA Draft whom he will see plenty of for the foreseeable future.

“Paolo…you can tell he’s their franchise guy going forward,” Young said on ‘From the Point by Trae Young’ on June 9. “He’s a leader…Usually, the really good players make that second-year jump so I’m looking to see what he does.”

Young picked Banchero as the player he is excited to watch next season.

The only rule was he couldn’t pick teammate AJ Griffin who had a strong rookie season averaging 8.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.0 assists on historic efficiency for his age.

Banchero also put up historic numbers himself right from the outset of the season becoming the first rookie since LeBron James in 2003 to score at least 20 points with five rebounds and five assists in their debut. He finished with a 20.0-point, 6.9-rebounds, 3.7 assist campaign – just the 12th 20/6/3 season in NBA history.

This season began with some underlying animosity between Banchero and Hawks star Dejounte Murray who also hails from Seattle, Washington. It never spilled over from the summer pro-am circuit into the regular season, though.

Young was not complimentary of Banchero alone, offering praise for the Magic as a whole.

“Orlando was no slouch, Young said. “You knew you were gonna have a tough game because you had the [Franz and Mo Wagner], Markelle [Fultz] played really well for them this year.”

The Magic finished with the third-worst record in the NBA but were 5-6 in games decided by three points or fewer. A few of those games break the other way and they would have flirted with a spot in the Play-In Tournament and they are set to bring in another pair of lottery picks with picks Nos. 6 and 11 (via CHI) overall in the 2023 NBA Draft.

Among all of the teams in the Southeastern Division, the Magic pose the greatest threat to the Hawks’ current spot behind the Miami Heat. And, with a young core and money to spend, they are a team the Hawks need to keep an eye on next season.

Guard-heavy Atlanta Hawks pre-draft workout headlined by 2023 NBA Draft’s smallest hopeful

The Hawks resumed preparations for the 2023 NBA Draft with another slate of workouts on June 12, per Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Five of the expected six-man group are guards with two projecting solely as point guards if they make it to the next level.

Headlining the group is diminutive Kansas State point guard Markquis Nowell who stands 5-foot-8 but averaged 17.6 points, 8.3 assists, and 3.5 rebounds this past season.

He also earned his second consecutive Big 12 All-Defense selection.

Nowell’s bravado is very reminiscent of Young’s and, while he is expected to go undrafted, he has already had several workouts including with the Indiana Pacers and Washington Wizards.

The next prospect, Detroit Mercy’s Antoine Davis, is the most-decorated prospect in the group and also a point guard. Standing 6-foot-1, Davis averaged no fewer than 23.9 points in any of his five collegiate seasons. He is also a marksman shooting 41.2% from deep this past season and 39.1% over the last three seasons as well as a playmaker with no fewer than 3.6 assists.

Iowa State guard Gabe Kalscheur averaged 12.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.5 assists this past season while earning Big 12 All-Conference and All-Defense honors.

The first prospect on our list that is expected to be drafted (2nd round), Ricky Council stands 6-foot-5 – putting him firmly in wing territory in today’s NBA – and averaged 16.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.3 assists but saw his three-point efficiency sink each year.

He shot just 27.0% from deep after shooting over 44.0% as a freshman.

Notre Dame veteran Dane Goodwin is another bigger-bodied guard/wing-type player standing 6-foot-6 who has sunk 39.1% of his threes over his five collegiate seasons.

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The only true forward in the expected group is Justice Sueing from Ohio State. He averaged 12.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 2.8 assists this past season but has also struggled with his deep ball over the years.