For casual NBA fans, there’s only one Orlando Magic player featured in the water-cooler talks: Paulo Banchero, the first overall pick of the year, who at 19 already looks like a frontier All-Star. However, for the NBA geeks, this Orlando roster, which has managed to win just one of its first seven games, is quickly becoming a major talking point.

with big being an operative term.

With a guard rotation decimated by injuries to Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Markel Fultz and Gary Harris, the magic has recently begun to form a starting lineup that includes three players – Banchero, Franz Wagner and Wendell Carter Jr – on the roster. 6-foot-10, the fourth is listed at 7-foot-2.

I’m here to talk about a 7-2 guy. His name is Paul Paul. If you’re not an NBA geek, you may be familiar with Paul’s father, Manute Paul, who was at one point the longest-running player in NBA history, but you probably don’t know much about the son. Know this: The 22-year-old makes the early shortlist for the most advanced player, and for his size, he has skills that will legitimately amaze you.

It’s true for all those big guys in Orlando. This is how they can play them all together. Banchero can score and create a dribble like a winger. Wagner acts ably and comfortably as a primary bodyguard. Carter’s is an ultra-sleek centerpiece with a subtle touch. They can all shoot from the depths. They can all put the ball on the floor. This front line is so adept that you tend to lose track of how big it actually is.

But not Paul. Even in the NBA today, you can’t lose track of 7-foot-2. Instead, when Paul starts doing something, you find you just can’t take your eyes off him. Just watch this sequence below, as Paul closes tightly to shooter, Dorian Finney-Smith, in the corner, moves his feet to cut off Finney-Smith’s engine, catches the rebounding ball, then immediately turns and pushes the ball, resulting in a causal loss. Finney-Smith dribble from behind the back before finishing off the runner with a fancy foot at the other end.

Suffice to say, humans the size of Paul aren’t supposed to be able to move around and make coast-to-coast plays like this one. And we’re not talking about a play of luck. Paul does this kind of thing regularly.

and again.

This is also not the case of a really tall guy who is only able to finish near the basket. His small stats don’t reflect that after this season (25 percent of 3), but look at these clips and tell me this isn’t the guy who can shoot the ball.

Bol had one of the biggest contrasts in the 2019 draft. He played just nine games as a freshman in Oregon before a stress fracture to his foot finished his only collegiate season, but during that short sampling he scored 21 points per game and hit 52 percent of 3. Before this year He was his most important player in the NBA. The sample was when he shot 37.5 percent of his 3 in 32 games with Denver two seasons ago.

This season, Paul’s 67.3 effective field goal percentage ranked sixth among all the big men, in clearing the glass, and 143.3 points per 100 shot attempts ranked second among all the big men. He makes 86 percent of his shots within four feet, and 60 percent within the 4-14 foot range, per CTG.

It’s not just a crime. You can imagine the effect Paul with his good feet and 7 feet and 6 wingspan can have on the defensive end. In fact, we’re all freaking out about the supposed mix of size and skill for 2023 top pick Victor Wembanyama, who’s also listed at 7-foot-2, and just to be clear, I’m not comparing Bol to Wembanyama, who looks like one of the best prospects ever. But Paul, who might eventually become a rotation player version of Wimpanyama, is starting to do some similar things.

This is crazy, right? Wembanyama takes off from the free throw line to block a 3-point shot?

Paul did the same for Malcolm Brogdon a little over a week ago.

In fact, Paul blocked two Brogdon attempts by 3 points in less than two minutes. Here he does the same with Luka Doncic before he ends up on the other end.

This isn’t the only time Paul has outdone Doncic.

Here he gets to Evan Mobley.

Coming into play on Monday, Paul’s 17 blocked shots are second only to Brooke Lopez’s 20. So far, he’s only averaging 20 minutes per game, but that number is steadily rising. He played 30 minutes against Dallas on Sunday and finished the game with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks. Extrapolating to every 36 minutes, which he might find himself playing before long, Paul has averaged over 19 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.

Which number looks best for magic? Bol has made $2.2 million this season, and it’s a peanut-certified contract for the type of player that’s quickly proving that he is. Paul took a long way to get here. The Heat named him 44th overall because everyone was afraid his body wasn’t holding up. traded in Denver. He was sent to the G-League. He was traded to Detroit, only to fail physically and be sent back to Denver. He was traded in Boston, in which he never played a game. She traded in Orlando, which apparently lived up to her eyes with the big guys. However, with such a huge squad, Paul got his chance, and so far, he’s making great use of this opportunity. If he keeps doing that, he won’t make $2.2 million for long.

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