Paolo Banchero

Magic’s Mosley Talks Banchero, F. Wagner, Fultz, More

Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley recently spoke to Michael Scotto on the latest edition of the HoopsHype podcast. The conversation covered a number of topics, including how Mosley got his start in coaching, working with former Hall of Fame players and current stars, his time coaching the U.S. Select Team this summer, and, of course, the Magic.

Mosley is bullish on Orlando’s young talent. Reigning Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero played for Team USA at the World Cup, and while the Americans had a disappointing fourth-place finish, Mosley liked what he saw from the 2022 No. 1 overall pick.

I think the sky is the limit (for 2023/24),” Mosley said. “(Banchero) being with Team USA and seeing the different aspects of how people adjusted their games to fit in with what was trying to be accomplished. He did that. He’s capable of doing so many things. At the beginning of the year, he played basically point for us at times with Franz Wagner when we had our guards down. More importantly, I watched his jump defensively and ability to switch pick-and-rolls and stay in coverage. They had him playing the five mixed with the four. I thought it was great that he expanded his game in real time. I think it’ll do wonders for him on the court.

“Even more importantly, his voice and leadership. I watched him during a practice in Las Vegas and the way he carried himself and projected his voice in certain drills. I think that’s going to go so far when he’s back with the Magic because it’s a level of leadership you’re asking him to step into. I think he recognizes and feels that. It was a great experience for him to be around that group of players and those coaches.”

As for Wagner, who helped Germany to a gold medal, Mosley said he wasn’t surprised by the third-year forward’s success, and once again focused on the less glamorous end of the court.

For Franz, I think people got to see a glimpse of what we’ve known for quite some time,” Mosley told Scotto. “Since we’ve drafted him, we’ve talked about his high basketball IQ, his work ethic, care for the game and attention to detail. He has all of those pieces. I joke with him that he’s a 40-year-old man in a 22-year-old body. He just sees the game so differently, and he cares about the little things. He cares about people.

“What I saw was his defensive ability to show. Franz did a great job of switching when it came to guard certain guards. I think that’s going to be the biggest key as he comes back here. Our ability to guard, which I was so happy to watch them (Banchero and Wagner) do at times, is going to skyrocket us to what we’re capable of doing.”

When Scotto asked about the Magic’s offseason, Mosley said he was happy to have “consistency and stability” with most of the roster returning. Regarding expectations for 2023/24, the coach said he’s more focused on the Magic improving via “continuity, joy, togetherness, and grit” rather than wins and losses, because if they handle those aspects the “wins will take care of themselves.”

Another former No. 1 overall pick, guard Markelle Fultz, is entering the final year of his contract, which will pay him $17MM in 2023/24. Mosley thinks Fultz is ready to take “big strides” ahead of free agency next summer.

I think Markelle’s ability to continue to lead because he’s such a selfless point guard,” Mosley said, per Scotto. “He wants to share and enjoys seeing the success of his teammates. That’s what we’re going to ask more of him. Defensively, being able to guard the ball because his level of physicality is up there. I think he’s going to set the tone in a lot of ways for us. He has such a high ceiling of where he can go because of how he’s been working this summer.”

Team USA Notes: First Loss, Banchero, Brunson, Bridges

Former Team USA coach Gregg Popovich used to talk about “appropriate fear,” which is what current coach Steve Kerr said his team should be feeling after losing to Lithuania on Sunday, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. After going unbeaten through exhibition play and the first four games of the tournament, the Americans now understand they’re not invincible as they enter the quarterfinals.

“It makes it real,” Austin Reaves said. “Obviously, now, it’s (win) or go home. We see the reactions. We obviously know that everybody wants to beat us in particular. We see the joy that they get from that. That taste in your mouth, it don’t feel good.”

Although the U.S. remains favored to win the tournament, it will have to play significantly better for that to happen. Sunday’s loss came after a close call Friday against Montenegro in which Team USA had to stage a late rally to pull out a victory.

Reynolds notes that Kerr has been through this experience twice before as a member of Popovich’s staff. The U.S. dropped its first game against France in the last Olympics, but didn’t lose again on the way to a gold medal. In the 2019 World Cup, the team lost in the quarterfinals and wound up finishing seventh.

“Every player that plays for USA Basketball, they have to recognize what they’re up against and it’s not enough for us to just tell them. They’ve got to feel it,” Kerr said. “I think they’ve felt it in the last couple games.”

There’s more on Team USA:

  • Tuesday’s matchup with Italy will be especially significant for Paolo Banchero, Reynolds adds. With an Italian father and an American mother, Banchero had a choice of representing either nation, but he chose the U.S. because that’s who his mom once played for. “I’ll treat it like any other game,” he said.
  • Jalen Brunson is accepting blame for the troubling pattern of slow starts, per Aris Barkas of Eurohoops. Lithuania dominated the early part of Sunday’s contest, building a 31-12 lead after one quarter. “They executed their game plan and we just started too slow. We played way better in the second half and we waited too long to come to play,” Brunson said. “That’s on me, I have to come ready to play, I have to have everyone else ready to play. Respect to them, they played great.”
  • Mikal Bridges vows that the U.S. squad will be more focused for the rest of the tournament, Barkas adds in a separate story. “We just have to be ready for the next one, add more fuel to the fire,” he said. “We are not getting sent home. We just have to keep playing with our talent, we have to keep our guys out there.”

Team USA Notes: Lithuania Matchup, Edwards, Kessler, Bridges

Team USA got its toughest World Cup test so far in Friday’s win over Montenegro, and another challenge awaits on Sunday against Lithuania, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. The Americans will be the de facto top seed if they can reach the quarterfinal round with a perfect record, but Lithuania is also in contention for that honor after going 3-0 in pool play and crushing Greece on Friday.

The U.S. hasn’t fared well against larger teams, which will be an issue when it faces Jonas Valanciunas and the Lithuanians. Nikola Vucevic had 18 points and 16 rebounds for Montenegro on Friday while getting Jaren Jackson Jr. in early foul trouble. Lithuania is the top rebounding team in the tournament and has six players who are at least 6’9″.

Vardon suggests that head coach Steve Kerr might consider a lineup change, starting either Paolo Banchero or Bobby Portis alongside Jackson to get more size on the court. But that would take away the advantage in transition offense that allows the Americans to get so many fast break points.

“We understand teams are gonna try to be physical and slow the game down, and (Montenegro) did a good job of that,” Kerr said. “But our whole thing is we feel like over 40 minutes, we can wear the other team down if we stay solid.”

There’s more on Team USA:

  • Anthony Edwards led the rally against Montenegro with 17 points in the second half, notes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. The Timberwolves guard has emerged as the team’s primary scoring option, but he’s not making a big deal out of the role. “It’s a team sport,” Edwards said. “If I wanted to punch my chest and do that, I’d go play golf or tennis or swimming like Michael Phelps. I’d go do something that’s an individual sport. But it takes five guys to win a basketball game.”
  • Walker Kessler thought he might be getting bad news when Jazz general manager Justin Zanik said he had a phone call for him, per Ryan Kostecka of Instead, it was head coach Will Hardy on the other end of the line informing Kessler that he had been selected to the World Cup team. “I was kind of freaking out, thinking I might get traded, but then he said it was coach,” Kessler said. “He then told me congrats on making the USA team. … I was definitely kind of speechless, but here I am.”
  • Mikal Bridges told Cesare Milanti of Eurohoops that the depth of talent on the U.S. roster creates difficult matchups for other teams. “It makes it so tough to beat,” Bridges said. “Even if the starters struggle, we have guys from the bench who are gonna play better than the starters.”

Team USA Notes: Hart, Ingram, Naturalized Players, Banchero

Team USA coach Steve Kerr plans to stick with the lineup change he made against Jordan, keeping Josh Hart in the starting five in place of Brandon Ingram, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN. Kerr wants to maximize his starters’ rebounding as the Americans prepare to face two NBA centers — Montenegro’s Nikola Vucevic on Friday and Lithuania’s Jonas Valanciunas on Sunday. Hart is shorter than Ingram, but he has made a greater impact on the boards, picking up 12 rebounds Wednesday.

“Josh has a strength and a tenacity to him that sometimes overcomes a height disadvantage. He’s used to guarding bigger guys with all the switching that happens in the NBA,” Kerr said. “I really liked the lineup shift for (Ingram). The game was much smoother. … I know he enjoyed it.”

Kerr has used the same starting lineup since training camp, but Hart’s performance and Ingram’s inability to find scoring opportunities with the starting unit led to the change. Ingram is on board with the move as he got to handle the ball more often Wednesday, picking up five assists in 15 minutes.

“I felt good out there. It was different coming off the bench. I hadn’t done that since my rookie season,” Ingram said. “I was able to get prepared for it. It was just a different lineup, and I was excited for the opportunity.”

There’s more on the World Cup:

  • With pool play over, the U.S. can significantly help its positioning with two wins in the second round, Windhorst adds. Victories over Montenegro and Lithuania would make Team USA the equivalent of the number one seed in the medal round, providing more rest between the quarterfinals and semifinals. “We went over the format today with the team in the film session,” Kerr said. “And yeah, we want to win both games to put us in great position. The guys are aware.”
  • Kerr and his team are supportive of American players who get the opportunity to represent other countries, per Cesare Milanti of Eurohoops. Team USA has already squared off against U.S. natives Thomas Walkup with Greece and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson with Jordan, and it will face Kendrick Perry when it meets Montenegro. “I think that’s cool because those are guys that you’d probably not see making the U.S. team,” Tyrese Haliburton said. “… It’s cool when Americans get this kind of opportunity and figure out how to show their talents internationally.”
  • Paolo Banchero is wearing a wrap on his right thumb after spraining it in a recent game, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Banchero said the injury is minor and won’t keep him out of action.

World Cup Notes: Banchero, Reaves, F. Wagner, Fernandez

Team USA got an early taste of the physical approach that World Cup opponents are likely to try, writes Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. For all their talent, the Americans only have one true center on their roster and they aren’t as big and strong as many of the teams they’ll face. New Zealand attacked the U.S. frontline from the outset in Saturday’s opener and built a 14-4 lead before the game turned around.

“They came out right away and were very physical and took it to us,” said head coach Steve Kerr said. “We need to feel that, because that’s what these games are going to be like.”

With Jaren Jackson Jr. in foul trouble early in the second half, Kerr turned to Paolo Banchero, a natural forward who’s being asked to play center during the tournament. Banchero wound up leading Team USA with 21 points while blocking four shots, several of which led to fast-break opportunities.

“Being in the World Cup, my role is my role. I kind of have accepted it,” Banchero said. “I just want to do it to the best of my ability. J.J., he’s a great player. I gotta be able to pick up where he left off when he comes out the game.”

There’s more from the World Cup:

  • The fan favorite in the Philippines is Austin Reaves, who benefits from playing for the Lakers, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic. L.A. is the nation’s favorite NBA team because of past visits to Manila by Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. “I was talking to (Lakers assistant) Phil Handy, and he was telling me that they love the Lakers out here,” said Reaves, who got a huge ovation during pre-game introductions. “So I kind of seen it coming. It’s special for me.”
  • Magic forward Franz Wagner is considered day-to-day after turning his ankle in Germany’s first game, per Olgun Uluc of ESPN. Team doctor Oliver Putz provided an update Saturday, telling reporters that the injury doesn’t appear to be serious. “Nothing is broken, torn or anything like this, things that would end the FIBA World Cup for him,” he said. “Franz feels better this morning than yesterday. We did another MRI this morning. But the problem is that we don’t have the imaging yet, so we can’t say exactly what’s hurt yet.”
  • Spain’s Rudy Fernandez set a European record Saturday by playing in his fifth World Cup tournament, notes Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops.

Southeast Notes: Poole, Howard, Wood, Hawks

In an appearance on Gilbert Arenas’ podcast, Andre Iguodala reveals that he told Jordan Poole he’ll have to become a leader after being traded to the Wizards, relays Tristi Rodriguez of NBC Sports Bay Area. With the Warriors, Poole could lean on a veteran core consisting of Iguodala, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. He won’t have that in Washington, but Iguodala said Poole is beginning to take on that role.

“He’s already starting to make the right strides,” Iguodala said. “I’ve heard about what he’s been doing with his teammates. The other day, I was asking him about his teammates, and he knew everything about every one of them. And I’m like ‘OK, now we starting off on the right path.’ He brought them all out to L.A. He did! He’s leading.”

Iguodala defended Poole’s final year with the Warriors, which was marked by turmoil leading back to Green’s punch during training camp. Iguodala says Poole continues to improve and should put up even bigger numbers now that he has his “own team.”

“He averaged 20 (points per game) last year, on a bad year. He’s going to get to the line. He’s the only one who got to the line for us last year consistently,” Iguodala said. “People act like he had a bad year. I’m like, ‘OK, a bad year? Y’all blamed him for the year we had last year and he averaged 20.’ (He will average) 25-plus, easy.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • After taking some time off following Summer League, Magic rookie Jett Howard is “back in the lab” and getting ready for his rookie season, Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel writes in a subscriber-only piece. Howard has also been watching new teammate Paolo Banchero with Team USA and trying to learn from his approach to the game. “Just how to be useful in any position that they put you in,” Howard said. “He’s like a Swiss Army knife. That holds value itself. He can guard the 1 through 5 and we look up to that.”
  • The Heat don’t appear to have any interest in Christian Wood, even at the veteran’s minimum, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel states in a mailbag column. There may not be consistent minutes for Wood considering the other players in Miami’s front court, and Winderman doesn’t believe the team wants to hand out another guaranteed contract given the uncertainty over Damian Lillard.
  • Ron Kroichick of The San Francisco Chronicle looks at how Grant Liffmann was able to rise from a Warriors post-game TV host to a vice president’s role with the Hawks.

Team USA Notes: Edwards, Hart, Banchero, Young

After completing its five-day training camp in Las Vegas, Team USA played its first official exhibition game ahead of this year’s World Cup on Monday and defeated Puerto Rico by a score of 117-74. The U.S. squad was up by just seven points at the half, but outscored the Puerto Ricans by 36 in a dominant second half.

As Tim Bontemps of ESPN writes, Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards earned a spot in the starting five for Team USA alongside Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, Brandon Ingram, and Jaren Jackson Jr., and showed why he belonged in that group. Edwards scored a team-high 15 points on 7-of-13 shooting while also adding four assists and four steals.

“Anthony was great,” head coach Steve Kerr said. “He fits the FIBA game really well because of his physicality at both ends. He can get through contact. They allow a lot of contact on drives, so he can get through that contact with his strength and then using that same strength defensively, body people up and keep them from penetrating. So I thought he was great, but I thought the whole team really played well.”

The U.S. roster lacks an established scorer with FIBA experience whom the team could turn to for an important late-game basket, leading to speculation that Edwards could emerge as that player. Monday’s performance was a promising start.

Here’s more on Team USA as it prepares for upcoming tune-ups against Slovenia and Spain this weekend:

  • As Bontemps notes, Knicks forward Josh Hart was the only player who didn’t see any action on Monday vs. Puerto Rico. Team USA said he was out for “rest” purposes, but it’s probably no coincidence that Hart will become extension-eligible later this week — it will be interesting to see if he has an agreement on a new deal in place with New York by the time the U.S. faces Slovenia on Saturday.
  • Magic forward Paolo Banchero spent some time at center during Monday’s exhibition, and it sounds like Kerr plans to continue using him in that role going forward, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic. “He’s going to play some five,” Kerr said. “One of the things we really found in ’21 in the Tokyo Olympics was having a 5 that can push the ball in transition (as Bam Adebayo did) and create plays is very difficult for FIBA teams to handle. He can play some four, as he showed, but he’ll play plenty of five as well.”
  • In a separate story, Bontemps shares some early observations about Team USA’s starting five, its plan to lean on smaller lineups, and how using Banchero at the five could help create a “devastatingly effective” second unit offensively.
  • Within a larger discussion about Team USA during the latest episode of The Hoop Collective podcast (YouTube link), Bontemps, Tim MacMahon, and Brian Windhorst of ESPN express some skepticism that Trae Young will be part of the 12-man roster that represents the U.S. at the Paris Olympics next year, despite his desire to do so. “I heard Trae Young did not make a great case for himself during his previous time in the Team USA program,” MacMahon said.

Team USA Notes: Lineup, Kerr, Edwards, Banchero

Team USA head coach Steve Kerr isn’t prepared to name a starting five for this summer’s World Cup squad, telling reporters on Thursday at the U.S. training camp that things will “shake out over the next week or two,” as Tim Bontemps of ESPN relays.

Although Team USA’s roster features plenty of talent, it’s primarily made up of younger players who don’t have a long list of postseason awards and/or playoff achievements on their respective résumés. Most of the roster also doesn’t have much – if any – international experience, so Kerr and his staff will have to figure out quickly which players are best suited for the international game and who fits together the best.

“It’s not easy, because usually you’re talking about 12 starters in the NBA. … These guys are all starters and great players,” Kerr said. “Part of the FIBA commitment is none of that stuff matters. There’s no contracts on the line. Nobody’s getting traded. This is just us for six weeks, and I expect the same thing to happen here is what happened in [2021, for the Olympics] and in [2019, for the World Cup], in terms of the buy-in and the effort and the energy and the intensity, and, we’ll see what happens.”

Here’s more on Team USA as it begins to prepare for the 2023 World Cup, which will take place in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia:

  • In a separate story, Bontemps explores how the 2023 U.S. team can draw inspiration from the 2010 iteration of Team USA, which didn’t feature anyone from the 2008 Olympic roster and was derisively nicknamed the “B-Team.” Bontemps draws parallels between rising Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards and the 2010 version of Kevin Durant, who helped lead the U.S. to World Cup gold 13 years ago during his ascension to NBA superstardom. Edwards has a chance to follow a similar trajectory, as Bontemps outlines.
  • Despite its relative inexperience, this U.S. squad appears better positioned for World Cup success than the 2019 group, which finished a disappointing seventh, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic, who predicts that Team USA will come away with a gold medal this time around. Vardon predicts that Jaren Jackson, Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, and Brandon Ingram will be starters, with Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton, and Austin Reaves vying for the final starting slot.
  • Team USA forward Paolo Banchero tells Vardon that his decision on whether to represent the U.S. or the Italian national team was a difficult, “drawn-out process.” The recruitment of Banchero by former Magic star Grant Hill – now Team USA’s managing director – and the fact that Paolo’s mother played for the U.S. women’s team in the 1990s helped tip the scales in favor of Team USA, as the reigning Rookie of The Year explains.
  • Banchero also told Vardon that he recognizes he may have a limited role on a talented U.S. roster and he’s prepared to do whatever is asked of him. “With Orlando, I’m the leading scorer, kind of the main guy,” he said. “But here, and I’m able to do other things, whether it is affecting the game defensively, on the glass, with my passing, whatever it may be. … I think I can showcase the other parts of my game. Whatever the team needs, I would try to show that.”

International Notes: Fernandez, Canada, Paris, Almansa, More

Kings associate head coach Jordi Fernandez will replace Nick Nurse of the Sixers as the head coach of the Canadian national team, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Canada Basketball has officially confirmed the news, indicating in a press release that the leadership change will take place immediately. Nurse, who coached the Raptors – Canada’s only NBA team – for five seasons before being dismissed this spring, subsequently stepped down from his position with the national team. Fernandez will take the reins for the 2023 World Cup, which begins in less than two months.

Fernandez, who was born in Spain, was an assistant coach on the Nuggets’ staff from 2016-22 before joining the Kings under Mike Brown last year. He’s considered a rising head coaching candidate, having interviewed for the coaching vacancies in Phoenix and Toronto earlier in the offseason.

Here are a few more updates from around the international basketball world:

  • After playing a regular season game in France in 2020 and again in 2023, the NBA is on track to return to Paris in 2024, according to a report from L’Equipe, which states that the Nets and Cavaliers are the teams expected to compete in that game. There’s hope that French phenom Victor Wembanyama and the Spurs will play a game in Paris as soon as 2025, per L’Equipe.
  • Izan Almansa, a 6’10” Spanish big man who spent the last two years with Overtime Elite and projects to be a first-round pick in 2024, has signed with the G League Ignite, reports Jonathan Givony of ESPN. Almansa, the last prospect to join the Ignite for 2023/24, will be part of a star-studded group that includes potential top-five picks Ron Holland and Matas Buzelis.
  • Gianni Petrucci, the president of the Italian Basketball Federation, wasn’t thrilled by Paolo Banchero‘s decision to play for the United States instead of Italy at the upcoming World Cup, telling La Gazzetta dello Sport that the Magic forward “fooled us.” However, Petrucci clarified that he was more upset about a lack of communication from Banchero rather than the decision itself. “It was a legitimate decision, but he could have made a call to communicate that to us,” Petrucci said, per “Instead, we learned about his decision from the newspapers.”
  • German forward Louis Olinde, who has spent the past three seasons with Alba Berlin, is hoping to make the move to the NBA this offseason, writes Donatas Urbonas of According to Urbonas, Olinde has worked out for the Warriors and Thunder and has a session lined up with the Trail Blazers too. The 25-year-old is also expected to play for the Suns at the Las Vegas Summer League.

Magic’s Paolo Banchero To Play For Team USA In World Cup

Magic forward Paolo Banchero, the reigning Rookie of the Year and the No. 1 overall pick in 2022, has committed to play for Team USA during the FIBA World Cup this summer, league sources tell Shams Charania and Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

According to The Athletic, Banchero said a year ago that he would play for the Italian national team this summer, but Team USA managing director Grant Hill continued to recruit Banchero throughout the season and evidently convinced him to change his mind. Both Hill and Banchero played for Duke in college.

Banchero was born and raised in the United States but he has an Italian passport due to his father’s ancestry. As Charania and Vardon write, the 20-year-old originally planned to play for Italy during the 2020 Olympics, but the event was delayed due to the pandemic, and he wound up missing the competition a year later.

After meeting with Banchero in December, Italian Basketball Federation President Gianni Petrucci believed there was a “60% chance” the young forward would suit up for Italy internationally. However, last month he expressed pessimism about the possibility.

Banchero averaged 20.0 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists per game in 72 starts this past season. He’s the 11th player to commit to Team USA’s 12-man roster, per The Athletic.

The Americans will start training camp for the World Cup in early August, with their first game scheduled later that month in the Philippines.