Great care was taken Paolo Bunchero scored in the first six games. This is understandable, as he scored 21 points in the match The Orlando Magic beat the Charlotte Hornets 113-93 at home on Friday to become simple sixth player in NBA history to start his career with six consecutive 20-point games.

Bunchero, the No. 1 overall draft pick in June, joined the elite company of Wilt Chamberlain (56), Alvin Hayes (10) and Grant Hill, Dominique Wilkins and Oscar Robertson (six) as the lone players to accomplish the feat.

But in the first four weeks of his NBA career (preseason included), Bunchero has grown the most as a passer and playmaker, as evidenced by his career-high 7 assists on Friday.

“The one thing he continues to do is step up as the plays go,” coach Jamal Mosley said. “He’s learning it, he’s slowing it down, he’s understanding it, he knows the pace of the game — he’s a great communicator. It goes back to his ability to trust his teammates and his teammates trust him.”

Assists are not the main metric for evaluating play and passing.

They require the teammate receiving the pass to make the throw. How passes are recorded can also be subjective. A player can create an opening in the defense that gives good ball movement or be responsible for the secondary pass (pass before pass), but unless they make the last pass before the shot is taken, their contribution will not be shown in the traditional box.

That’s why when it comes to passing and playing, it’s important to value the process more than the result. And what Banchero has shown over the past few weeks is a better understanding of how to pick apart opposing defenses and use his scoring prowess to create opportunities for his teammates.

“Definitely feel like he’s slowing down,” Bunchera said. “My vision starts to expand when I’m driving. Earlier in the preseason when I was driving, I couldn’t really see the back end, make passes or really make reads. [Friday] just continuing to build on it. I don’t feel like I’ve come all that way in terms of it really slowing down to where I am at an elite level, but I definitely feel like I’m getting better every game.”

In the preseason and through the first few games of the regular season, most of Buncher’s best moments have been simple: keep the ball on the perimeter, push the ball in transition with forward passes and make shots on open teammates.

There were moments when the more advanced displays of the game were successful — a pair of missed passes in the Magic’s preseason win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Oct. 11 stand out — but more moments of growing pains typical of any rookie.

When he tried to make more advanced reads, like hitting a double screen shot, turnovers or failed passes were more likely to occur. His passes would be too late or inaccurate.

Or he didn’t attempt a pass because he didn’t know where the defensive help was coming from, holding the ball longer before an easier read became available.

He could see the action directly in front of him, but not the entire floor.

Banchero is now seeing the floor and reading defenses better, which has been evident in the last two games.

His pocket passes to the player holding the ball in the pick-and-roll were more accurate and with better timing.

Buncher’s handoff to Mo Bamba on a double pick-and-roll Friday was a highlight of the game. His touchdown pass to Chuma Okeke for the touchdown late in the third quarter may have been his best moment of the game.

Passing, especially on the move/off the dribble, was Buncher’s strength coming out of Duke. He’s been honing his skills and has grown by making pass reads like a driver, a situation he often finds himself in. His 11.5 drives per game Saturday led the Magic and tied for 30th in the league.

Banchero doesn’t take as long to figure out a defense, he’s better at recognizing where all five defenders are and where the help is coming from — especially important on drives because rotations happen quickly in the NBA and lanes close quickly.

He’s had to carry a heavier game load lately because the Magic have been without multiple guards, an opportunity he’s taking advantage of.

Buncher’s 14 potential assists, a one-dribble pass to a teammate after receiving the ball, tied a season high Friday.

“It’s nice to be able to see not just one basic read, but also the flip side or help and try to think one step ahead,” Bunchera said. “I had a couple of misses [Friday that during] before the season or a couple of games ago, I might not have made that pass just because I didn’t see the whole floor. Being able to get in the lane and make those passes, that was good.”

Banchero played just 11 games at that level — five in the preseason and six in the regular season. He still has a lot of improvement to make as a playmaker. He can be more decisive and quick in his passing, especially as a roll man in the pick-and-roll, and improve his passing accuracy.

But the growth he’s shown so early as a rookie isn’t common.

Nor in his overall game, ahead of the Magic, he scores 23.5 points (46.5% shooting – 51.3% on 2s, 32% on 3s), 8.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists (2.7 turnovers) and 1.3 blocks in 33.3 minutes (six games). Sunday’s road game against the Dallas Mavericks.

“People were hitting me up after games, texting me all these stats,” Bunchero said. “Not even to sound cocky or anything, but that’s what I expected from myself, to play at that level. I feel like God has blessed me with my body, skills and IQ. What I do is what I expect to do.’

Sunday’s game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. and will be available to watch Bally Sports Florida/Bally Sports+ or listen on FM 96.9 The Game.

Cole Anthony (injury of the right internal oblique muscle), Markelle Fultz (fracture of the big toe of the left foot), Gary Harris (recovery from left knee injury) and Jonathan Isaac (recovery from left knee injury), Jalen Suggs (sprained right ankle) and Mo Wagner (sprained right midfoot) remain sidelined.

This article first appeared on Write Khobi Price at or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.