When the Orlando Magic’s Paolo Banchero sank a three-pointer with 8:41 to go in Wednesday’s night’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, he became the first No. 1 overall pick to score 20 points or more in his first five career games since Elvin Hayes in 1968. And for gambling enthusiasts, he’s also gone over the over/under of his points in each of those games.
Elvin Hayes began his career with 10 straight 20-point games after the San Diego Rockets took him first overall out of the University of Houston. He had double-digit rebounds in nine of those games, and in 78 of his 82 games his rookie season. Hayes ended up leading the league in scoring with 28.1 points per game, to go along with 17.1 rebounds. But he still lost out on the Rookie of the Year award to the No. 2 pick, Wes Unseld, who also won MVP. Hayes would team up with Unseld with the Washington Bullets in 1972, and they’d win an NBA title together in 1978.
The only other No. 1 pick to start with as many 20-point games as Banchero was Oscar Robertson, who began his career with six in a row in 1960. Robertson went on to win Rookie of the Year and average 30.5 points, 10.1 rebounds and a league-leading 9.7 assists.
However, Banchero would probably trade this milestone for a win. Orlando dropped to 0-5 after losing to Cleveland, 103-92, despite Banchero’s 29 points. Robertson’s Royals went 5-1 during his torrid scoring run, and Hayes’ Rockets were 5-5.
But perhaps this is the ideal result for Orlando long-term. Great performances from their young franchise player, plus plenty of losses to preserve their chances to draft presumptive No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama next June. The team continues to celebrate Banchero, because what else is there to celebrate when you’re 0-5?
(Note: a stat correction reduced Banchero’s point total to 29.)