No. 1 Pick Cites Celtics Star Among Biggest Influences

Paolo Banchero

Getty Paolo Banchero of the Orlando Magic.

Jayson Tatum has accomplished so much that, even at his young age, he’s already left an impression on the NBA’s newest class of rookies. Paolo Banchero, who was the first overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft, cited Tatum in an interview with Marc Stein as one of his biggest influences as a player.

“LeBron [James] and Carmelo [Anthony], growing up, were by far my two favorites like my whole childhood,” Banchero, who was selected by the Orlando Magic, told Stein for his October 16 column on Substack. “Then, as I got older, I started to know about Anthony Davis and Jayson Tatum — dynamic forwards who are able to play inside or outside. But then I also want to have my own style of play with my own flair. I’m just trying to be myself.”

Tatum, 24, already has quite the resume as enters his sixth NBA season. In five years with the Boston Celtics, he’s a three-time all-star, he’s made two All-NBA teams, has been to the Eastern Conference finals three times, and is coming off an NBA Finals appearance.

Banchero Detailed His Relationship With Tatum

As alumni of Duke, Banchero and Tatum had already crossed paths before playing against each other in the Eastern Conference.

“Tatum, I know real well. I would say I know Tatum the best. I speak to him here and there,” Banchero said, according to Stein. “He was definitely very, very open during my college season and the pre-draft process, any questions I had for him.”

With Banchero, who will turn 20 in November,  now in the NBA, he acknowledged that the stakes have changed between him and Tatum.

“Obviously, now it’s the season. I’m not going to blow him up asking a bunch of questions because we’re in the same conference, and we play them multiple times.”

The first time the two square off against each other will be October 22 in Boston. Then they’ll play back-to-back games in Orlando on December 16 and 18. Coincidentally, Banchero will be playing with Markelle Fultz in Orlando, whom the Celtics traded to the Philadelphia 76ers to acquire Tatum in the 2017 draft.

Banchero & Tatum Played in Pro-Am Game

On August 20, Tatum and Banchero played in the CrawsOver Pro-Am game held in Seattle, that featured LeBron James, among other players. Although the game was cut short in less than two quarters because of condensation on the court, Tatum showed out before the game was called, hitting six 3-pointers.

In a July 30 CrawsOver League game, Banchero scored 50 points in a game that also featured No. 2 pick in the draft Chet Holmgren, who scored 34 points.

Holmgren, of the Oklahoma City Thunder, suffered a season-ending foot injury in the August 20 game. Among other NBA players to play in the game included Dejounte Murray, Aaron Gordon and Isaiah Thomas.

When it was announced that James would appear, Banchero tweeted on August 19: “s/o @Jcrossover bringing heavy hitters the city deserves it!!! tmrw will be [exploding head emoji]”

Banchero will make his NBA debut October 19 on the road against the Detroit Pistons.