Paolo Banchero has experienced many firsts since the Orlando Magic selected him with the No. 1 pick in June’s NBA draft.
His first summer-league game, media day and practice during training camp have been notable moments.
Now he can add his preseason NBA debut to the list — Monday night’s 109-97 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
“Obviously, it’s something I’ve been waiting for for a while,” Banchero said ahead of Monday’s game. “Excited to get on an NBA court in an NBA arena and just play a game. I’ve been waiting for a long time. Summer league was a step, but it wasn’t the real thing. So, happy to be here.”
Banchero had multiple highlight-reel-worthy plays, including a dunk over John Konchar and Brandon Clarke late in the second quarter.
But like many of the Magic players, he struggled scoring efficiently (8 points on 2-of-9 shooting) and turnovers (4).
Orlando finished with 25 giveaways, leading to 33 Grizzlies points.
In addition to the already-known absences of Markelle Fultz (left big toe), Gary Harris (left knee) and Jonathan Isaac (left knee), Admiral Schofield (sore left knee) and Franz Wagner (rest after EuroBasket play with Germany men’s national basketball team) were ruled out for Monday.
“A lot of that is monitoring his workload,” coach Jamahl Mosley said of Wagner. “He averaged about 29 minutes over there and just getting acclimated back to what we’re doing here. Making sure we’re staying on top of it.”
Banchero, Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Mo Bamba and Wendell Carter Jr. started against Memphis.
Anthony led Orlando in scoring with 17 points (6-10, 4-8 on 3s) to go with 5 rebounds. Moe Wagner (15 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals), R.J. Hampton (14 points, 7 assists) and Terrence Ross (12 points) led a Magic bench unit that kept the game competitive.
The Grizzlies, who led by as much as 19, were paced by All-NBA guard Ja Morant (22 points, 7 assists) and second-year forward Santi Aldama (21 points, 6 rebounds). Memphis held Orlando to 39.3% shooting (35-89).
Monday’s game was the first of five preseason games the Magic will play before kicking off the regular season against the Pistons on Oct. 19 in Detroit.
Orlando will play the Spurs in San Antonio Thursday in its next preseason game before matching up against the Mavericks in Dallas Friday.
The Magic wrap up their preseason slate with home games vs. the Grizzlies (Oct. 11) and Cleveland Cavaliers (Oct. 14).
For second-year coach Mosley, preseason is about experimenting with different lineups and combinations while also continuing to lay the foundation that was started last season and seeing where players’ understandings of the team’s concepts are.
“It’s our ability to see if they’re grasping the things we’ve asked from them from last year,” Mosley said. “The level of consistency we’re asking them to play with; how they do things from what we learned last year. That’s the idea of leveling up — making sure they understand what we put in and how fast they can pick it up.”
Ahead of Monday’s game, the Magic officially named Jake Chapman as Orlando’s radio play-by-play announcer.
Chapman began his career with the Magic in 2006 as a radio intern before serving as the team’s radio producer from 2009-14.
He’s entering his 10th season with the Magic after stints as the pregame and postgame host and executive producer of the Detroit Pistons Radio Network and a producer and host for 92.3 The Fan and the Cleveland Browns Radio Network.
Chapman, who returned to the Magic in 2019, also serves as the team’s radio producer, pregame and postgame radio host for the Magic Radio Network.
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.