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Paolo Banchero records 30th 20-point game, most by Magic rookie since Shaquille O’Neal

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Paolo Banchero logged his 30th 20-point game of the season, the most by an Orlando Magic rookie since Shaquille O’Neal, in Monday night’s 101-93 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

The No. 1 overall pick from last year’s draft ended his performance with 29 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and one steal in 35 minutes of action. He also finished 10-of-18 (55.6%) shooting from the floor and 9-of-11 (81.8%) at the foul line.

According to a few NBA betting sites, Paolo Banchero remains the top favorite to win Rookie of the Year. Check out which sportsbooks are still showing great odds for Bennedict Mathurin and Walker Kessler.

Paolo Banchero drained two clutch shots late in the fourth quarter, giving him a one-game lead over Penny Hardaway for the second-most 20-point games by a Magic rookie. “In those moments, you kind of just got to be able to go get a basket,” said Banchero.

“I was confident I could do that. My teammates trust me to make the right play. I don’t take that for granted. I don’t take that lightly. We’re close as a group and I think on the court it shows in moments like that.”

Paolo Banchero registers 30th 20-point game of season, most by Magic rookie since Shaquille O’Neal

In the 1992-93 season, O’Neal set the franchise record for most 20-point games with 60. Banchero is bound to break additional records in the coming weeks, considering there are 20 games remaining in the regular season.

Through 55 starts this season, Paolo Banchero is averaging 19.9 points, 6.6 boards, 3.6 assists, and 33.7 minutes per game. Plus, he’s shooting 42.1% from the field, 27.4% outside the arc, and 75.4% at the free throw line. The Duke product won Rookie of the Month in December and January as well.

On Nov. 5, in Orlando’s 126-123 loss against the Sacramento Kings, the forward scored a career-high 33 points in 40 minutes. Along with amassing 16 rebounds, four dimes, and one block, Paolo Banchero shot 14-of-26 (53.8%) from the floor.

Based on Banchero’s effort throughout his rookie season, he’s earning every cent of his four-year, $50.16 million contract. The Washington native is making $11.055 million this season and $11.608 million in the 2023-24 season. His deal also includes club options for 2024-25 and 2025-26.

James is a Basketball Insiders contributor. He earned his bachelor's degree in English and Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University. James enjoys watching sports and helping gamblers win money.

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