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Paolo Banchero knows what a pure scorer looks like. He sees one every time he looks in the mirror. The 2022 No. 1 overall pick and odds-on favorite to win Rookie of the Year, Banchero is averaging 21.7 points per game and has all the makings of a future scoring champion. He creates off the dribble. He's strong in the paint. He scores at all three levels and will almost certainly develop into a plus 3-point shooter. He already gets to the free throw line like a seasoned vet. 

But Banchero has never seen anything like Kevin Durant

In a recent appearance on JJ Redick's "Old Man and the Three" podcast, Banchero reflected on a late November game in Brooklyn in which Durant scored 45 points (still his season high), calling KD's pure and game-long bucket-getting his "Welcome to the NBA moment."

"I guarded [Durant] for most of that game, and it was really just nothing you could do, " Banchero explained. "You know, some guys get to the [free-throw] line a bunch, or, you know, play with the refs and get calls, and that's how they get 14 points from the line or whatever. But KD was straight business. Like, wasn't saying nothing to the refs. I think he hit like four or five free throws, but he had 45. So most of those was buckets. I think he missed five shots that game. 

"So just experiencing that, having to guard him, he was the first player I think I've guarded in my life where it's like there's nothing I could do," Banchero continued. "You know, usually a guy can make some shots on me, but I can fluster him a little bit. I can get into him and make him miss here and there. But that was just like, he don't even see me right now. Like I'm trying to cut him off, and he's just out there like, 'No, I'm still going to get to this spot. I'm still going to rise up.' It was crazy."

So first off, Banchero's memory is spot on with the numbers. Durant had 45 points in this game. He made four free throws (4-for-4) and missed exactly five shots (19-for-24). That's 41 points on straight buckets. 

That said, Banchero was a bit hard on himself. He didn't guard Durant most of the game, as he recalls. He did find himself matched up on Durant plenty, and on those occasions where he didn't get switched off, Durant indeed looked utterly unfazed by Banchero's presence. 

I went back and watched. Durant hit four jumpers when Banchero was his clear contester. He beat Banchero off the dribble for a fifth bucket. There were three other buckets where Banchero began as Durant's defender, but was switched off by the time the shot was taken, the last of which came over the outstretched arms of 7-foot-2 Bol Bol, which is a whole other level of impressive. Watch all these clips below. 

The spirit of what Banchero remembers is entirely accurate. Durant was unstoppable in this game, and as much as we all take it for granted after watching him all these years, it remains unbelievable how effortless he scores even with defenders blanketing him. He is the purest scorer ever in a lot of people's books, and it's tough to argue with that stance. 

As Banchero said, Durant's scoring isn't held up on the crutch of foul-baiting, and though he can and does get to the rim plenty, he does the majority of his work with jumpers, and highly contested ones at that. His production and efficiency are astounding given the shot diet on which he exists. 

Even when Banchero gets screened off Durant, he's still watching helplessly as Durant cooks every coverage Orlando throws at him. The cumulative impression Banchero is left with is one of utter helplessness. He's not the first to feel that way against Durant, and he certainly won't be the last. 

But in the end, depending on how you want to categorize some of these gray-area buckets, Banchero only defended about 25 percent of Durant's 19 hoops on this night. And in scoring 24 of his own points, he got the better of Durant himself a few times. 

It won't be long before Banchero is the one delivering "Welcome to the NBA" messages to wide-eyed rookies.