Paolo Banchero and Kevin Durant at one point both called Seattle home.
Banchero, who is a Seattle native, recalled being 12 years old while watching Durant, who was drafted by the SuperSonics, play at Seattle Pacific University for a Pro Am game.
“So, it’s crazy to be on an NBA floor against him,” Banchero said Monday after the Magic lost to Durant’s Nets 109-102. “It’s a full-circle moment.”
By the time that circle was completed, Durant had a season-high 45 points on 19-for-24 shooting, while adding seven rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks.
“That was definitely a great performance,” Banchero said. “Didn’t miss many shots. That was a tough cover, man. I don’t got much to say about that. That was amazing. That’s what he do. It’s Kevin Durant.”
Banchero had 24 points on 9-for-17 shooting, and after the game received a pat on the head and some words of wisdom from Durant.
“Just to keep going. Stay healthy,” Banchero said of Durant’s postgame message to him. “He’s showing his respects. I did the same.”
Banchero also received Durant’s jersey, which was autographed along with the message “The work don’t stop.”
“The work don’t stop.”— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) November 29, 2022
Paolo Banchero shared the court with Kevin Durant and witnessed a 45-point explosion in the Nets’ win over the Magic pic.twitter.com/aXhm8nCTjO
“I try to be observant of guys like that,” Banchero said. “How they talk to their teammates, how they play the game, how they go about the game. You can always pick something up from a player like him.”
There was plenty to pick up from Durant’s performance against the Magic.
“It’s my first time playing against him, so you don't know what it’s like so you gotta find out,” Banchero said. “You gotta accept the challenge, and today we tried to do what we can do. But sometimes there’s not much you can do when you got a player like that when he’s hot. So, you just gotta take the blows, try to respond and move on.”
Durant wasn’t asked about Banchero during his postgame presser, but he did get a question about 7-foot-2 Bol Bol, who showed off his unique skill set and finished with 24 points, six rebounds and two blocks.
Bol Bol acting like Curry made me leap out of chair hahahaha pic.twitter.com/CrTRpvN3YO— Chris Vernon (@ChrisVernonShow) November 29, 2022
“He’s unique,” Durant said. “He’s tough to deal with. You see his confidence growing by the game. He can pretty much do everything on the basketball court. So, just need more reps. Last few years he’s been in and out the lineup, hurt, G League stints. But I love what Jamahl [Mosley] is doing over there, putting him at the point sometimes, playing him at the five. Just moving him around cause he’s such a versatile player. It’s great for the league. I think you’ll start to see him continue to be more and more of an impact player as time goes on. So, he’s playing well this year.”
Durant didn’t quite call Bol a unicorn, as he once did a young Kristaps Porzingis. But he was asked if Bol is “one-of-one” — a term KD recently used to describe Zion Williamson.
“We’re all one-of-ones, baby,” Durant said.