Hall of Famer Jason Kidd declares Paolo Banchero the Rookie of the Year front-runner

No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero is off to an incredible start this season with the Orlando Magic and is solidifying his place atop the rookie class, as a result.

Banchero on Monday became just the fifth teenager in history to record consecutive 30-point games at 19 years, 360 days, and the first since Zion Williamson in February 2020. He was the third rookie in team history to reach that mark (Shaquille O’Neal, Dennis Scott).

He is averaging 23.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists on 46.1% shooting from the field this season. He has scored at least 20 points in nine of his 11 games and leads the rookie class in class in scoring. He is 22nd among all players in that category.

The early play by Banchero has earned high praise from several individuals around the league, including Draymond Green, Jayson Tatum and, now, Dallas Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd.

Kidd declared Banchero as the favorite for Rookie of the Year.

He reminds me of Grant Hill. His ability to handle, bring it (up the court and) to be able to shoot the middy at a high rate. He is always under control. I hope he doesn’t take offense to that but Grant was pretty good. But someone at his size and to be able to bring the ball and do the things that he has done so far and he will only get better so that’s why I give him high praise of being Rookie of the Year right now. He has to be the favorite because of the things that he is doing.

While the Hall of Famer is seemingly a fan of Banchero, Hill also liked Banchero entering the draft. He loves the combination of size and skill that Banchero has and even wanted the Magic to select his fellow Duke brother prior to the draft.

Said Hill in June:

I followed Duke a lot this year and I covered them a lot in March Madness. Paolo has a great combination of size, skill and feel, and you don’t see that a lot in players. He is 6 foot, 10 inches and 250 pounds so that in itself is great size and not everybody has that. … Since I live in Orlando, and Paolo went to Duke, I’d like to see them take Paolo Banchero.

Certainly, earning comparisons to a Hall of Famer from another Hall of Famer so early into his professional career is high praise for Banchero. He even recently joined Hill in a bit of history after his quick start with the Magic.

He joined Hill and three others as the only players since the merger (1976-77) to record at least 25 points, five rebounds and five assists in a debut game. He also tied Hill for the most consecutive 20-point games in history to start a career (6).

Banchero is proving to be as advertised as the top pick, and has helped transform the Magic on and off the court. The team is still some time away from putting it all together, but it is clear it has a star in the making in Banchero.

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Story originally appeared on Rookie Wire