Magic man: Orlando forward Paolo Banchero leads NBA All-Rookie teams

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Orlando Magic Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero is the headliner on the NBA’s 2022-23 All-Rookie team.

Banchero is joined by Oklahoma City’s Jalen Williams, Utah’s Walker Kessler, Sacramento’s Keegan Murray and Indiana’s Benedict Mathurin on the first team.

On the second team: Detroit’s Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren, Houston’s Jabari Smith Jr. and Tari Eason and San Antonio’s Jeremy Sochan.

Banchero received 100 out of 100 first-place votes, Williams received 99, Kessler 95, Murray 88 and Mathurin 71. It was a clear-cut first team with Mathurin receiving 38 more points than Ivey, who had the most points for anyone on the second team.

The No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft, Banchero averaged 20 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists and became just the sixth NBA rookie in the past 50 seasons to average at least 20 points, six rebounds and three assists in a minimum of 50 games.

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Williams started in 65 of the 72 games he played, averaging 14.1 points (52.1% shooting), 4.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.37 steals.

NBA Rookie of the Year: Orlando Magic’s Paolo Banchero

In his first NBA game on Oct. 19, Orlando Magic rookie Paolo Banchero, the No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft, had 29 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

He was just the 10th rookie in league history to have at least 25 points, five rebounds and five assists in an NBA debut.

Entering the league as the most NBA-ready of the rookie class, Banchero scored at least 25 points in his first five games and back-to-back 30-point games in his 10th and 11th games of the season.

On Tuesday, Banchero was named NBA Rookie of the Year, earning 98 out of 100 first-place votes.

‘I remember when I first got drafted, my agent Mike Miller… looked at me and he asked me if I was going to be rookie of the year, and I confidently said ‘yes’. It was just a goal I’ve always had and something I’ve had my eye on from the second I got drafted. I’m glad I was able to do it,’ Banchero said after winning the award.

Banchero, 20, averaged 20 points (No. 1 among rookies), 6.9 rebounds (fifth among rookies) and 3.7 assists and shot 42.7% from the field in 70 games. The 6-10 forward is part of promising and developing team remained in the postseason race until the final 10 days of the season.

‘I remember when I first got drafted, my agent Mike Miller… looked at me and he asked me if I was going to be rookie of the year, and I confidently said ‘yes’. It was just a goal I’ve always had and something I’ve had my eye on from the second I got drafted. I’m glad I was able to do it,’ Banchero said after winning the award.

Utah’s Walker Kessler and Oklahoma City’s Jalen Williams were the other two finalists for the award.

“The kid has done a great job of impacting winning, three times winning Rookie of the Month, being able to create a different style of play throughout the entire year,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said late in the season. “From going where he was handling the ball the majority of the year to when our guards came back, he adjusted to that. Being able to keep everybody involved.

“Going through, what they say is a slow portion of the year and then bouncing right back — I think that level of resilience and toughness (stands out). Then, talking about him putting up historic numbers for what he’s done. The biggest thing for us is his ability to impact winning for where we are: plus (11 victories) from last year.”

Banchero isn’t a finished product, but his NBA career is off to a great start.

NBA MVP: Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid finished second in MVP voting in 2020-21 and 2021-22.

Sixers coach Doc Rivers and Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey have said he’s the MVP. Even Embiid campaigned after becoming frustrated that he hadn’t won.

Embiid and the Sixers no longer have reason for frustration.

‘I don’t even know where to start,’ Embiid said on TNT’s ‘Inside the NBA’ following the announcement. ‘It’s been a long time coming, a lot of hard work. I’ve been through a lot.

‘I’m not just talking about basketball. I’m talking about everything as of life. You know my story. You know where I come from, how I got here, and what it took for me to be here. So it feels good. I don’t know what to say. It’s amazing.’

Jokic and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, the other two finalists, finished second and third, respectively.

Embiid received 73 first-place votes; Jokic 15; and Antetokounmpo 12.

Most Improved Player: Lauri Markkanen, Utah Jazz

Tasked with more responsibility, especially offensively, Lauri Markkanen showed marked improvement in his first season with the Utah Jazz.

Coming to Utah from Chicago, Markkanen averaged a career-high 25.6 points (seven points better than his previous best), shot a career-high 49.9% from the field and lifted his 3-point percentage to 39.1% from 35.8% last season and increased his rebounds per game to 8.6 from 5.7 last season.

The league’s first Finnish All-Star, he also had career-highs in field goals made (8.7) and field goals attempted (17.3) per game.

For his season, Markkanen, 25, was named the NBA’s 2022-23 Most Improved Player. He accepted the award from Helsinki, where he is fulfilling his mandatory Finnish military service. Markkanen received 69 of the 100 first place votes. The Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Knicks’ Jalen Brunson were the other finalists. 

‘I know I’ve got a ways to go to be the best player I can be,” Markkanen told USA TODAY Sports earlier this season. “But I’m excited about the journey, and I’m in the right spot to work on my game. It’s a great organization to be a part of, and there’s guys that help me with it, so I couldn’t be more happy.’   

Defensive Player of the Year: Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies

Jaren Jackson was a shot-blocking, shot-altering, rim-protecting force for the Grizzlies this season, and on April 17, the 23-year-old All-Star was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year for the first time in his five-year career.

Jackson led the league in blocks per game (3.0) for the second consecutive season and was No. 2 in total blocks (189) behind Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez, who also was a finalist for the award with Cleveland’s Evan Mobley. Had Jackson played more than 63 games, he would’ve easily passed Lopez in total blocks. (And note, starting next season, under rules in the new collective bargaining agreement, Jackson would not have been eligible for the award because he didn’t play in a minimum of 65 games.)

Clutch Player of the Year: De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings

Pick your favorite clutch shot from Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox.

Was it:

► The just-across-mid-court 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Kings a 126-123 victory against Orlando?

► The 3-pointer with .7 seconds remaining for a 117-114 win over Chicago?

► Or the driving layup with .4 seconds left to give the Kings a 117-115 victory against Utah?

Maybe it was another clutch performance he had this season.

For all of his big-time made shots with the game on the line, Fox on April 18 won the NBA’s first Clutch Player of the Year Award. He captured 91 of 100 possible first-place votes. 

Coach of the Year: Mike Brown, Sacramento Kings

Mike Brown can add another coaching award to his trophy case.

The Sacramento Kings head coach was named NBA Coach of the Year, the league announced Wednesday. Brown, who received all 100 votes to become the first unanimous winner of the award, led the Kings to their first playoff berth since 2006, ending the longest playoff drought in NBA history.

It’s the second time Brown has won the award. He previously received the honor in 2009 as the Cleveland Cavaliers head coach.

Sixth Man of the Year: Malcolm Brogdon, Boston Celtics

“My game is suited for being versatile, doing what the team needs, being skilled in multiple areas of the game so I can have an impact no matter how you play me,” Malcolm Brogdon said earlier this season.

Brogdon appeared in 67 games this season, all on the bench, averaging 14.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists and shot 48.4% from the field and 44.4% on 3-pointers.

For his work, he was named the NBA’s 2022-23 Sixth Man of the Year on April 20. Brogdon earned 60 of 100 first-place votes, with the Knicks’ Immanuel Quickley and Bucks’ Bobby Portis as the other finalists.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY