The Orlando Magic are in the middle of a rebuild, and after trading Nikola Vucevic last season, it seems as though that rebuild is going as planned. Orlando has a ton of young players and draft picks, including Jalen Suggs, the 5th pick of the 2021 NBA Draft. However, the Magic still have a fair amount of injuries as well as guards, and chances are they will end up towards the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Today, we’re going to break down the Orlando Magic, and see what we can realistically expect from them in the upcoming 2021-22 season.
First off, let’s talk about Orlando’s point guards. Through trades, Orlando has acquired Markelle Fultz and Michael Carter-Williams, both of whom were considered busts for their separate reasons but found new life in Orlando. The Magic drafted Suggs this year, and in 2020, they drafted Cole Anthony out of the University of North Carolina. They also have RJ Hampton, who they acquired from the Denver Nuggets in the Aaron Gordon trade, and can play both point guard and shooting guard. That’s five incredible point guards, all of whom have loads of potential and have yet to reach their athletic prime.
Orlando also has some great shooting guards, starting off with Gary Harris, also acquired in the Gordon deal from Denver. E’Twaun Moore is a 31 year old veteran who last played for the Phoenix Suns (who went to the NBA Finals), and can be a great locker room guy. At small forward, the Magic also have depth, although due to injuries, that spot is a little bit limited. Terrence Ross will surely be the starting small forward, as he has been great for the franchise ever since arriving from Toronto, averaging around 16 points per game. Jonathon Isaac is another great small forward (he can also play power forward), and they have their 10th overall pick of the 2021 draft, Franz Wagner, who stands 6’9″.
One of the most exciting things about the Magic this year is that they will have something only a few other teams have… two brothers playing on the same team! Yes, after Moe Wagner was bounced around at the trade deadline, he found his way to Orlando, where Franz was also drafted! Since they don’t play the same position (unlike Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris), we may get to see the brothers play at the same time, which would be amazing. Unfortunately, other than Wagner, the Magic don’t have much depth at the four, so when Isaac returns, he might be spending some time there.
The Magic have three quality centers in Wendell Carter Jr, Robin Lopez, and Mohamed Bamba, and out of everyone, I think Magic fans want to see Bamba play the most. Drafted in 2018, Bamba has not been able to showcase his full potential as a lanky, 7’0″ center because when Vucevic was on the Magic, he was a two-time All-Star, and got the lion’s share of minutes. I sincerely hope that Lopez and Carter, Jr, don’t start over Bamba, because he deserves his time to shine and show the rest of the NBA what he can do (although Magic fans should be excited about Lopez’s hook shot; instant offense!)
The Magic are one of the teams that hired a new Head Coach this offseason, and his name is Jamahl Mosey. Mosey is 42 years old, which means he is the age of a player who just retired or a few years into retirement; Mosey played college basketball at the University of Colorado and four years professionally overseas. Having a young coach will be great for the Magic, as the players and coach can learn from their mistakes together. This is Mosey’s first gig as a Head Coach, because for the last seven seasons, Mosey has been an assistant coach for the Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, and Cleveland Cavaliers. It will also be a lower pressure environment, meaning Mosey can make decisions without worrying if he will lose his job because of a slip-up.
Overall, the Magic have a great young team with many core players that could one day become All-Stars. Since so many players are the same age, they will form bonds that they wouldn’t with grown men who are sometimes 10 years older then themselves. The chemistry will be apparent on-court, and if things continue to go as planned, the Magic could be back in the Finals by the mid- to late-2020s.
But, on the slight chance they are looking short-term and want to win now, I say blow it all up.
What? Didn’t I just get through saying how set they are for the future if they play their hand right? Yes, but if the Magic are desperate to win now, it wouldn’t be difficult to swing a trade for a player of All-Star level talent. The Magic have an excess of guards and future draft picks to give away in trades, while still keeping enough that they are not ruined for the future. For teams that want an All-Star caliber player back in return, this idea may not work (so no Ben Simmons to the Magic deal). But for teams like the Indiana Pacers (with Domantas Sabonis) and Toronto Raptors (Pascal Siakam), a trade for an All-Star who could be disgruntled could solve a lot of problems; and Orlando isn’t a small market by any means. In fact, a trade for Sabonis or Siakam could be very beneficial assuming they didn’t give away all of their assets, because they would then have an All-Star power forward and a bunch of young guys who could help the team win. If I were the Raptors, I’d do a trade for Siakam to the Magic today.
However, assuming something that dramatic doesn’t happen, their best course of action would be for the young players to spend a year becoming a tight brotherhood, and becoming a fun team to watch… even if it means losing games. Let’s be honest, the Magic aren’t going to be contenders this year, and if they are one of the worst teams in the league as many predict, then they have a chance at solving their power forward dilemma through the draft. Somehow, there are two generational talents (assuming they are both one-and-dones) in the 2022 NBA Draft, and both of them are power forwards: Emoni Bates and Chet Holmgren.
Bates has been issued the next LeBron James/Zion Williamson label, as he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated at 15 and has been well over six feet tall and able to dunk a basketball since he was in the 7th grade. Holmgren played with Suggs in high school, and is going to the same college that Suggs went to for a year: the University of Gonzaga. If the Magic are lucky enough to select him, they will have unbelievable chemistry.
If the Magic earn a top two pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, then in 3-4 years, they could be legitimate title contenders. However, for this upcoming season, I don’t expect them to win more then 20 games. I know this sounds harsh, but look at the Eastern Conference. The Nets are still the Nets with Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Kevin Durant; the Bucks are coming off a championship with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton; the 76ers still have Joel Embiid and whoever they trade for Simmons; the Miami Heat have Kyle Lowry, Victor Oladipo, and Jimmy Butler; even teams that may end up being much lower in the standings, like the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls, have great players like Evan Mobley, Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, and Jarrett Allen, as well as DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine, and Vucevic for the Bulls. It’s also probably the best for the Magic if they don’t win over 20 games, because while the NBA does not like its franchises losing games on purpose, it does sometimes benefit teams. In this case, I’m sad to say I don’t think the tanking will be intentional. If they’re not dead last in the East, I’ll be surprised.
What do you think about the Orlando Magic? Let me know in the comments below, don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!