Duke basketball: Paolo Banchero officially crowned best rookie in NBA

Duke basketball forward Paolo Banchero (Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball forward Paolo Banchero (Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Duke basketball program officially has another Rookie of the Year in the NBA. 

It was just a matter of time before Paolo Banchero officially joined an elite group of Duke basketball players to win the Rookie of the Year in the NBA after his stellar campaign with the Orlando Magic.

The NBA released its voting for the Rookie of the Year on Tuesday night as the former Blue Devil fell two votes shy of unanimously winning the award.

Banchero started all of the 72 games he played for the Magic this season and averaged 20.0 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game this season while shooting 42.7-percent from the field.

The No. 1 overall pick led all rookies in points and third in assists, fourth in steals and fifth in rebounds.

“I really can’t believe it,” Banchero said on social media after the crew on Inside the NBA on TNT announced he was the winner prior to Game 5 between the Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks.

“I just want to say thank you to all the fans for your support all year.”

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Paolo Banchero became the first Duke rookie to win the NBA Rookie of the Year since Kyrie Irving did it in 2012 and just the fourth former Blue Devil to win the award, joining Irving, Grant Hill (1994), and Elton Brand (1999).

He is only the third player in Magic history to be given the honor.

“Next year big things are coming. This ain’t the finish,” Banchero concluded.

Duke basketball sensation polishes off dominant rookie season

The 2023 KIA NBA Rookie of the Year Award is just the icing on the cake on a dominant season from Paolo Banchero which saw him win the Rookie of the Month award four separate times.

Banchero had 15 games where he scored at least 25 points and 40 games of dropping a minimum of 20 points, both ranked the most among rookies.

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Oklahoma City Thunder rookie Jalen Williams finished in second place while Walker Kessler of the Utah Jazz finished in third, despite gathering the two first-place votes that eluded Banchero.

Paolo Banchero will look to lead the Orlando Magic back to the postseason next season after falling seven games shy of qualifying for the Play-In Tournament.

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