Duke basketball: Paolo Banchero’s final major Summer League challenge

Duke basketball forward Paolo Banchero (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Duke basketball forward Paolo Banchero (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

There is only one challenge left for Duke basketball star Paolo Banchero in Summer League. 

The impression Duke basketball superstar Paolo Banchero has already made in the NBA Summer League is massive.

He is ready for NBA regular season games.

But, he will have the eyes of the league on his one last time in Las Vegas on Monday night.

Banchero already proved he was the best player on the floor in his Summer League debut on Thursday night against Jabari Smith, the presumed No. 1 pick before draft night, and the Houston Rockets.

The former Blue Devil finished with 17 points, four rebounds, six assists, and a steal while shooting 5-of-12 from the field, 2-of-3 from deep, and a perfect 5-of-5 from the free throw line.

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Orlando kept its future star in the rotation for its second game of its schedule against Keegan Murray, the No. 4 overall pick, and the Sacramento Kings, but it was Banchero who was dominant yet again.

The game had an unusual double overtime finish as the heroics of the No. 1 overall pick helped the Magic to its second victory in Vegas.

Paolo Banchero picked up the game saving block in the sudden death double overtime as the play was originally called a foul on the former Blue Devil but a challenge by Orlando overturned the call and kept the game alive.

Then, Banchero picked up the game-winning assist to Emmanuel Terry after he tried to orchestrate an isolation set at the top of the key, lost his handle on the ball, and still had the poise to regather his possession and find his open big man on the baseline.

It capped off an afternoon in which he went for 23 points, six rebounds, six assists, four steals, and two blocks.

Now, comes his final test of the summer.

A matchup with Chet Holmgren, the No. 2 overall selection, and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night.

Duke basketball standout familiar with looming foe

Paolo Banchero and Chet Holmgren are very familiar with each other as basketball players.

The two most recently met in November when Duke defeated Gonzaga in Las Vegas after Banchero finished with a game-high 21 points as Holmgren ended the night with 16 points in the classic regular season matchup.

Holmgren got an early start to his Summer League when the Thunder participated in the Salt Lake City Summer League and posted 23 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and six blocks in his debut followed by an 11-point, 11-rebound double-double in his second game despite struggling from the field.

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The 7-foot-1 center did not play in the finale in Utah but once again struggled in his Las Vegas Summer League debut with 12 points and eight rebounds against Smith and the Rockets.

All eyes will be on the primetime matchup inside the Thomas & Mack Center on Monday night as the two future stars of the NBA meet for the first time in the professional ranks.

Tipoff is scheduled for 9:00pm EST and will be broadcasted on ESPN.

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