Paolo Banchero is well aware of what the spectators inside the Thomas and Mack Center and the national audience watching from home wanted to see from Thursday’s Las Vegas summer league opener between the Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets.
They tuned in to watch the NBA draft’s No. 1 pick put on a show.
He didn’t waste time giving them one.
Banchero’s presence was felt early and often in the Magic’s 91-77 win over the Rockets.
“I think I did alright,” Banchero said. “I’m missed some easy shots, a layup, a couple in-and-outs but I think I did solid. I got my teammates involved. I could’ve been better on defense.”
The Magic’s first possession: Banchero assisted Devin Cannady on a 3-pointer. Their third possession: Another assist on a Cannady 3.
“He’s a deadeye shooter, can get it really quick,” Banchero said. “I just know that as long as I can get it to him with enough space and time to get it off it’s got a good chance of going in.”
What followed was Banchero showcasing his offensive skillset.
A relocation 3-pointer. A fadeaway from the left block. A step-back 3. An and-1 midrange pull-up. Making the right playmaking reads and dishing out accurate passes.
The results were Banchero dropping 17 points (5 of 12), 6 assists and 4 rebounds in his Magic debut despite not being in optimal shape.
“I’ve got to get my body back in playing shape,” said Banchero, who hadn’t played 5-on-5 in a game since he led Duke to the Final Four in April. “I didn’t feel as explosive as I usually do.”
Caleb Houstan, the Magic’s second-round pick (No. 32), also stood out, recording 20 points and 6 rebounds off the bench. Houstan took advantage of openings in the Rockets’ defense as a cutter and knocked down five 3s.
Cannady finished with 15 points. R.J. Hampton, the Magic’s third-year guard, had an 11-point, 11-rebound double-double.
Jabari Smith, the No. 3 pick in the draft, had 10 points (4 of 10), 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Josh Christopher had a game-high 22 points.
The night, however, belonged to the No. 1 overall pick.
“I’m not going to come out there and gun just because of a 1-on-1 matchup. We’re in the NBA,” Banchero said. “There’s a bunch of great players on my team that deserve shots and looks. I’m able to create easier ones for them, I try to do that the best I can.”
The Magic will play the Sacramento Kings at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday (ESPN) in their next summer league contest.
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.