Paolo Banchero began asserting his claim for Rookie of the Year immediately. In his professional debut on October 19, the Orlando Magic rookie forward posted 27 points, nine rebounds and five assists to become the first rookie since LeBron James in 2003 to record a 25-5-5 game in his first appearance. Banchero also joined James as the second teenager in league history to put up at least 30 points and 15 rebounds in a game when he tallied 33 and 16 on November 5. He became the third Orlando player to win Rookie of the Year, and the first since 2001. Banchero led all first-year players in scoring with 20 points per game — one of just six rookies since 2000 to reach that threshold. He also averaged 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game as the Magic won 34 games, a 12-game improvement from the previous season. Banchero was named Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month four times after logging 40 games of at least 20 points and 15 of 25 or more. He was the eighth No. 1 pick of the draft since 2000 to win Rookie of the Year and Banchero’s six games of at least 30 points as a rookie is the second-highest total in franchise history.
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