The NBA’s Orlando franchise has been working its “Magic” the last two offseasons. They haven’t seen the playoffs since 2020, so have they worked enough roster magic for the team to make a playoff run this coming Spring?
Orlando Magic’s Playoff Hopes: Unveiling the Roster Magic for a Playoff Run
Their young and talented roster won 14% more games last season than in 2021-22. Cole Anthony is a dynamic scorer who can create his own shot. Franz Wagner is a versatile wing who can defend multiple positions. Jalen Suggs is a pass-first point guard who can also score. Wendell Carter Jr., a 2018 first-round pick, was third in points on the team last season and is a formidable center. Paolo Banchero started all 72 games in his rookie season, playing an average of 33.8 minutes. He is coming into his own as the Magic’s franchise player. In his first season, his per-game average was 20 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.7 assists. He made 42.7% of his shots.
Veteran Wizardry Needed
In addition to their young core, the Magic better have a rabbit to pull out of their hat as one of their key veterans disappeared. Mo Bamba will be backing up Joel Embiid with the Philadelphia 76ers. Orlando does have Gary Harris, a ten-year veteran, returning. He shoots the three and defends well. Markelle Fultz is looking to bounce back from a knee injury and show why he was drafted first overall in 2017. However, whether he should be considered a veteran is questionable. He has only played 199 games in six seasons. Regardless, who will step up on the Magic’s bench to support the young core is a big question mark this upcoming season.
The starters will likely be Banchero and Wagner at the forward spots, Carter, Jr. at center, and Anthony at shooting guard, while Suggs and Fultz support one another at the point guard spot. The supporting cast will need to step up this coming season if a playoff run is to happen. The Magic bench was regarded as the worst in the league last season.
Two Notable Rookies
Two notable rookies will vie for minutes as they pay their dues and learn the rhythms of the NBA. Anthony Black was the sixth overall pick of this summer’s draft, while Jett Howard was 11th. Black made the All-SEC Freshman Team last season with the Arkansas Razorbacks, where he averaged nearly 13 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals per game. At six-foot-seven, he is a tall, athletic guard who brings versatility offensively as well as a high basketball IQ and a fierce mindset defensively. Howard is the son of the esteemed Juwan Howard, a former NBA All-Star and member of Michigan’s “Fab Five” who now is head coach at the University of Michigan. Howard joins the Magic as a six-foot-eight forward who can play multiple positions.
Defensive consistency is another concern for the young squad. They were 18th in defensive rating last season and 15th in opponent points per game at 114.0. Critics claimed their height became a disadvantage when facing teams who move the ball and shoot well, especially from deep. Fans hope athleticism and tenacity on defense will make up the difference, as offensive power shouldn’t be an issue.
Four Reasons Why the Magic Can Make a Playoff Run:
So, does Orlando’s roster have enough “Magic” to make a playoff run? Likely so.
- They have a young and talented core who’ve learned some magic tricks. Anthony, Wagner, Banchero, and Suggs are all under the age of 24 and have the potential to be stars in the NBA.
- They have an up-and-coming head coach in Jamahl Mosley. As a rising star in the coaching ranks, he has a reputation for developing young players, relating and communicating well, and is regarded as a wizard-level game tactician.
- They play in a weak Eastern Conference among teams whose window of opportunity is beginning to disappear. The Magic should be one of the better teams in the East this coming season, giving them a good chance at a higher seed for the playoffs.
- Did I mention Orlando has a young and talented core? They can play 35+ minutes per game, and they’ll have to. Hopefully, they’ll stay healthy. Maybe Fultz can find some friends. Most importantly, Black and Howard will need to contribute immediately, and they likely will.
Bottom Line: Two Key Questions
The answers to two key questions will define the upcoming season for the Magic:
- Can they wave the magic wand to make lockdown defense magically appear that matches their offensive tenacity and firepower?
- Can they pull a healthy season for their young core and surprising bench play out of their magic hat?
Magic fans can’t wait for the curtain to lift and the 2023-24 season to begin. On paper, Orlando’s roster ensures one thing’s for sure. The show will be magical to watch.