• Sudeep Tumma

Scouting Report: Paolo Banchero Is the Most NBA-Ready Player in This Draft

Updated: Jan 29

He's been a top prospect since Day One, and he's been proving why this season.

It’s almost unfair how agile Paolo Banchero is.

The 6-foot-10, 250-pound Duke forward is so smooth with his movements, but it’s his elite skill set that makes him a stud.

Banchero isn’t overly explosive, but he’s still a good athlete with a quick first step and talent way beyond his years. The freshman is so polished and poised. He’s got a great feel for the game and a high IQ. He utilizes ball fakes so well, possesses fabulous footwork and tremendous body control.

It would be so easy for Banchero to be complacent and rely solely on his talent, but he always hunts smart shots and doesn’t force bad ones.

That all starts with his tantalizing jump shot.

Banchero can spread the floor with his 3-point range. He shoots an adequate 34% from range, which can certainly be toned up, but he’s more than capable. His shot mechanics are clean, and he should be able to improve the 3-point production.

But what makes him truly special is his mid-range jumper.

Banchero excels in the high post/elbow areas on face-ups. He’ll jab step his defender once or twice, create just enough space to elevate and shoot — even with a hand in his face. And he can do that from just about anywhere on the court

His proficiency on those shots is superb. It isn’t just from a standstill though, Banchero can score off the bounce at a high rate.

He’s got excellent handles. Crossovers, behind-the-backs, hesitations, in-and-outs are all in his repertoire. Banchero can size up defenders, utilize step backs, etc. to create enough space and hit those contested jumpers.

Then that opens up his driving game. Defenders are forced to close out, which gives Banchero leverage to drive.

But frankly, he doesn’t need it. Aside from the first step and handles, when Banchero gets downhill, he’s got a whole bag full of moves: hop steps, euro steps, spin moves, etc. And on top of that, he’s a physical driver who will lower his shoulder and power his way to the rim.

Imagine trying to stop that combination of power/finesse on a 6-10, 250-pounder.

He’s got all that flare from the perimeter, but you can still toss Banchero the ball in the low post and let him work. Again, he’ll use that physicality, but also utilize a sweet drop step or hit you with the rip moves and attack the rim.

And any point during that post-up, Banchero may hit you with a turnaround/fadeaway jumper or ball fake one way and gain leverage. This is all aided by the footwork we talked about earlier.

His skill set and ability to combine moves are just breathtaking.

As I said before, Banchero isn’t the most athletic, but his size, skill and IQ make up for the lapses.

He moves well without the ball, he can operate as the pick-and-roll ball-handler, but also in pick-and-pop — which he does more often — or pick-and-roll situations.

Banchero has tried-and-true point forward skills with his handles, but also with his playmaking ability. He’s got really good vision, especially for a big man. And with how many double teams he attracts, Banchero can hit passes to open cutters/shooters with ease.

Then in transition, Banchero has solid straight-line speed. He can take it coast-to-coast off a rebound and/or lead the break and find a teammate.

One thing you will notice, however, is Banchero has a propensity to always finish with his right hand, even when he’s driving to the left. Which is something he will need to improve.

Still, his offensive versatility is a point of strength, and it’s coupled with apt defensive versatility.

Banchero’s high IQ and physicality translate well to the defensive side. Banchero is a better post defender than perimeter with his strength and reported 41-inch vertical. But more than anything, he’s a willing defender.

With those slight athleticism woes, Banchero doesn’t have the best lateral quickness, which will hurt him against the quicker guards of the NBA. He also doesn’t provide much as a rim protector, but he certainly puts in the effort.

The guy has a relentless motor on both sides of the ball. You love to see that from someone of his caliber. That motor and aforementioned physicality make Banchero an adept rebounder. He actually leads the Blue Devils with 7.6 rebounds per game.

The theme with Banchero is fluid: he doesn’t have any real glaring weaknesses. That’s part of what makes him the most NBA-ready player in the 2022 draft.

He may not have the ceiling Jabari Smith or Chet Holmgren, but he’s still got star potential and is going to make an immediate splash as a rookie. Banchero’s gaudy skillset is already grabbing headlines at Duke, and it’ll only extend in the NBA.

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