Paolo Banchero falls one vote shy of winning unanimous Rookie of the Year

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Magic Paolo Banchero falls shy by one vote to win unanimous Rookie of the Year Andy Larsen

Paolo Banchero of the Orlando Magic was short by one first-place vote on the confirmed ballots list to win unanimous NBA Rookie of the Year, and the lone voter to ruin it was Salt Lake Tribune writer Andy Larsen.

“Basically… the advanced stats all favor [Walker] Kessler, and I’ve always been an analytically-oriented voter,” Larsen tweeted. “I think I would have made this vote even if I covered another team.”

Per multiple NBA betting sites, Paolo Banchero was the clear-cut favorite to win Rookie of the Year. Sportsbooks showed Jalen Williams with the next-best odds, followed by Walker and Bennedict Mathurin.

Michael Pina, Bill Simmons, and Ryen Russillo of The Ringer each casted their first-place votes for Paolo Banchero. Dan Devine of Yahoo!, ESPN’s JJ Redick, and GQ’s Howard Beck voted for the Washington native as well.

Larsen also ranked Jalen Williams of the Oklahoma City Thunder ahead of Banchero. “I am absolutely going to get pilloried for this vote,” wrote the Utah Jazz beat writer. “To be clear, I think Banchero is likely the better player, and likely will be the better player moving forward. He will certainly win this award this year.”

Andy Larsen picked Jazz center Walker Kessler over Magic forward Paolo Banchero to win NBA Rookie of the Year, spoiled unanimous win

Through 72 starts this season, Banchero averaged 20 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 33.8 minutes per game. Plus, the forward shot 42.7% from the floor, 29.8% beyond the arc, and 73.8% at the foul line. Banchero finished 11th in free throws (394) and ninth in free throw attempts (534).

“The Magic were also much better when Paolo Banchero was off the court — among all of their iffy players, only Chuma Okeke had a lower plus-minus differential,” added Andy Larsen. “Kessler will give you 0.8 fewer made baskets per 36 minutes.”

While with Utah in 74 appearances and 40 starts, Kessler averaged 9.2 points, 8.4 boards, and 23 minutes per game. The No. 22 overall pick from last year’s draft shot 72% from the field, 33.3% outside the arc, and 51.6% at the free throw line.

Walker ended the regular season ranking eighth in offensive rebounds (231), fourth in blocks (173), 17th in defensive rating (110.8), ninth in total rebound percentage (19.7%), fourth in offensive rebound percentage (14.9%), and second in block percentage (8.6%0.

However, Paolo Banchero was in a worse situation. The Jazz (37-45, 12th in West) were by no means a terrible team this past regular season. They failed to make the playoffs but came within a couple of games of qualifying for the play-in tournament.

Additionally, Utah’s Lauri Markkanen is the favorite to win Most Improved Player of the Year. Walker had more help on his team. Meanwhile, the Magic (34-48, 13th in East) were a bit worse. Banchero’s stats support his case to win the award, all things considered.

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