There are areas where Banchero should improve, but it just feels like trying to cheat him after a full game check. He’s the most polished offensive player in the draft and is a lock to join the top five.
Will the New York Knicks be there to take him? We’ll have to wait for the NBA lottery to see. As it stands, the Knicks have a 9.4% chance of jumping into the top four and a 2.0% chance of locking in the top overall pick.
6’10”, 250, F, Duke (2002)
Strengths: loneliness log, foot movement
There are no two ways about it: Banchero is the best offensive player in this draft. There are one or two people with higher ceilings at the end of the floor, but no one in this class is as polished as the Washington native.
Dominate in isolation in the roosters, using a combination of moves to beat or outsmart defenders. Don’t say the midrange is dead because this part of the floor brings life to the Banchero game. His size and skill make him a mismatch waiting to happen.
Midrange and paint are where Banchero thrives as a goalscorer, but he also has a strong sense of when to pass from the double team. While he won’t see many doubles at the next level, he will need this playmaking ability when facing better defenders.
The original footwork is a big part of the reason I love Banchero so much. Footwork is one of the most overlooked skills in basketball because everyone places great emphasis on what goes above the waist.
Banchero’s foot motions are so good that they’re good when they’re not. Feel free to read this sentence again. It’s a little confusing, but the point is that Banchero can maintain balance and poise even when his foot movement is slightly off.
He is adept at jumping off the wrong foot to attack the edge or pulling the jump up when his feet are slightly off. Again, even when his foot movements aren’t perfect, he can make it work.
The movement of the feet, the movement of the feet, the movement of the feet.
Weaknesses: three-point shooting, defense
Again, these “weak spots” are complete nonsense. Banchero showed promise as a man who picks up and shoots, but three-point shooting didn’t exist yet. Expanding this range to become a more consistent outsider will help unlock his mid-range killer game. Still, 33.8% of Downtown in his first year at Duke isn’t bad by any standard.
As for defense, we saw flashes of defensive brilliance from Banchero during his freshman year. It’s not going to be a dominant guard, but it’s sporty and instinctive at that end of the floor. He can provide very powerful assistance in a powerful scheme.
His offensive ascendancy overshadowed any of the defensive concerns floating around there, but he still needs to improve that area of his game.
The fit is a bit wonky given Knicks’ current roster build. Would they feel comfortable playing him third instead of four? If not, Knicks president Leon Rose will need to make a decision on Julius Randle. Banchero is too good to be buried on the bench like Tom Thibodeau has done with Obi Toppin for the past two years.
If New York is in a position to take Banchero, they shouldn’t hesitate. Talented scorers don’t come up that often and it’s the type of player who can turn the tide of the franchise. The Knicks will need lucky pingpong balls in the lottery or a disguised swap package to get a Banchero.
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