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An athletic trainer explains why Paolo Banchero losing 7 pounds per game isn't a concern

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

NOTE: This post is from December of 2021.

Duke star Paolo Banchero is projected to go No. 1 overall in the 2022 NBA draft. But there are some health issues he needs to address first.

We have Banchero, a 6-foot-10 forward who just turned 19 years old, at the top of our most recent mock draft for a reason. Banchero finds ways to beat his man in the low post just as easily as he can hit his pull-up jumper off the dribble. When he is cutting to the basket, he appears nearly unstoppable.

If there was one reason to raise an eyebrow, based on what we have seen from him so far, it is just that he has had to step to the sidelines for serious cramping more often than one would like to see.

In fact, according to the broadcast crew during Duke’s game against Ohio State, the Blue Devils ran a sweat test on Banchero and learned that he loses seven pounds of sweat per game.

Apparently, because this plays a role in his cramping, the program’s sports medicine department is having him drink an oxygenated fluid that will help him avoid having to leave the floor with cramps as often as he has had to thus far.

Banchero has missed time during the games against both Kentucky and Gonzaga, which were massive matchups for Duke, due to the issue. He has also gone back to the locker room and required an IV to help alleviate the problem, per Coach K.

Apparently, this was not a concern for Banchero before he arrived at Duke. Of course, the stakes are a bit higher and the minutes are more intense at the D-I level.

Even with the cramping and excessive sweating, Banchero is averaging 17.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game for the Blue Devils.

I’m still comfortable calling him the top prospect in the 2022 NBA draft. But to be sure, I reached out to a few individuals who may know a bit more about the situation.

Travelle Gaines, a prominent athletic trainer who has worked with the likes of Jimmy Butler and Draymond Green, wasn’t at all concerned about what this suggests about his conditioning.

“Not at all, he will get it figured out,” said Gaines. “He is the best player in the draft with a great support system.”

Meanwhile, one scout (who spoke to For The Win on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly on behalf of their team) said it was a “short-term concern” and not an issue unless it impacts his play on the court.

Another personnel evaluator said that the cramping we have seen so far definitely “should be a consideration” but something they will leave to the medical staff because it is out of their personal expertise.

Additionally, one NBA executive told For The Win it is “definitely something to monitor” because losing seven pounds per game is so uncommon. But ultimately, it seems that while we should be aware of Banchero’s health, it’s not a reason to skip over him in favor of another prospect.

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