Banchero became the ninth player in team history to earn the award after averaging 19.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.1 steals in 15 games. He led the rookie class in scoring and produced at least 20 points in seven straight games from Dec. 5-18, tying the longest streak by a rookie in franchise history (Shaquille O’Neal, Feb. 11-26, 1993).
The No. 1 pick spoke on Tuesday prior to the official announcement of the award, and called it an honor to potentially win it. He thought his level of play could have been even higher.
I think it would be cool to win Rookie of the Month. I don’t even think this was my best month so it would be good to win it even though I feel like I could have been much better this month. I think just going into this new year, new month of the season is a new focus. You gotta refocus on the games we have in front of us. We got a big (five-game) West Coast trip (starting on Saturday at Golden State) so I’m excited for that.
Banchero is averaging a team-high 20.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists on 43.5% shooting from the field. He leads the rookie class in scoring and 20-point games (21) and is one of two first-year players with multiple 30-point games.
The 20-year-old has largely played with poise and a maturity that has extended well beyond his years. He is viewed as the front-runner to win Rookie of the Year and has drawn praise throughout the season from LeBron James, Jayson Tatum, Draymond Green and others.
Of course, Magic coach Jamahl Mosley is also proud of Banchero.
“I think it is huge,” Mosley said of Banchero possibly winning the award. “This young man continues to put a body of work in being first in the gym, last in the gym and studying film and understanding the ebbs and flows of the game and how he can continue to work to get better. I think getting that award is a big accomplishment that showed the work you do put in pays off in a lot of ways.”
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