The Orlando Magic traded away three of their starters last season. Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, and Evan Fournier. They traded one of the best centers in the league after years of commitment to the organization. It was time for both Nikola and the Magic to move on since they haven’t been able to make a real splash in the past 8 years or so.
Vucevic was able to lead this team to a couple of playoff appearances in 2018 and 2019. All just to have a first-round exit. They’ve been right around that 8-10 seed in the Eastern Conference for a while now. And that just wasn’t enough to keep it going.
So now the Orlando Magic have opted to begin their rebuild around young players Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Jonathan Isaac, and Markelle Fultz. This team won’t be good for many years to come, but at some point, they could strike gold on a draft pick and have a chance to turn things in the right direction.
Point Guard - Cole Anthony
Cole Anthony is one of the most valued pieces in Orlando. He was thrown into the starting lineup early last season when Markelle Fultz went down with an ACL tear. In Cole’s rookie season, he averaged 12.9 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 4.1 APG.
Cole Anthony is a decent playmaker and shot-creator. He has struggled to shoot a consistent percentage from the field/3-point line, but he can shoot a lot better when no one else is around him (83% from the FT line). Once Markelle returns, Cole Anthony will most likely be coming off the bench.
Shooting Guard - Jalen Suggs
Jalen Suggs was drafted with the number 5 pick in last year's draft. He’s well-known for hitting the game-winning 3-pointer against UCLA in March Madness last year. Jalen Suggs spent just one year in Gonzaga and averaged 14.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 4.5 APG.
Suggs is primarily a point guard, but we could see some lineups with Cole and Jalen alongside each other. With how the Magic roster is set up right now, I could see them wanting to throw him into the action immediately.
This player is a real floor general and makes the right plays for his teammates. He is at his best when he’s making plays in transition. Jalen Suggs is in a position to make a big impact in Orlando in his rookie season.
Small Forward - Gary Harris
Gary Harris should start at the three spot this season for the Magic. Harris was traded over from Denver last season. He played 20 games for the Magic and started all of them. In those games he averaged 10.2 PPG and shot 36% from the 3-point line.
Gary Harris has spent all of his career in Denver prior to the Magic and had some pretty good seasons over there. In his best season he averaged 17.5 PPG. After dealing with some injuries and setbacks, his career started to go downhill. He could be in for a comeback year this season.
Power Forward - Chuma Okeke
Chuma Okeke will be the starting power forward with Jonathan Isaac still sidelined from a torn ACL.
Okeke has a solid rookie season for the Magic last year. He averaged 7.8 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 2.2 APG. He’s a strong body down low that can finish through contact. He can also spread the floor with range out to the 3-point line.
Okeke should come into this season improved and in a position for a heightened role with the Magic.
Center - Wendell Carter Jr.
Wendell Carter Jr. is expected to be the starting center this year for the Magic.
In recent news, Carter Jr. spent some time this summer working with stretch 4s and 5s in hopes that he could be placed as a 4 man sometimes. The Magic want to be able to run some lineups with Carter Jr. alongside Mo Bamba, so we could see them testing out a lot of different lineups this season.
Carter Jr. was a part of the Bulls deal that sent Vucevic over to Chicago. Wendell came in and averaged 11.7 PPG, 8.8 RPG, and 1.6 APG in 27 minutes per game.
Markelle Fultz, Michael Carter-Williams, Jeff Dowtin, RJ Hampton, E'Twaun Moore, Terrence Ross, Franz Wagner, Admiral Schofield, Jonathan Isaac, Ignas Brazdeikis, Mo Bamba, Robin Lopez, Moritz Wagner
The Magic are dealing with a few injuries right now in Markelle Fultz, Michael Carter-Williams, and Jonathan Isaac. Jonathan Isaac is the most exciting player to see come back because he missed all of last season and has some real potential in this league. He’s a 6’11 PF that can handle the ball and spread the floor. Similar to a Brandon Ingram.
Players that will get minutes off the bench are RJ Hampton, E'Twaun Moore, Terrence Ross, the Wagner brothers, and Mo Bamba.
RJ Hampton grew to over 6’6 this off-season and will now get some minutes at small forward. That is great news because the Magic are sort of point guard heavy, so now that Hampton can guard taller/bigger players it can earn him some more minutes on the court.
Terrence Ross is one of the most skilled players on this roster. This is a guy who has scored 50+ points in the past. He has almost always been a player that comes off the bench, but he can flat-out score. He averaged 15.6 PPG off the bench for the Magic last year.
The Magic picked up Mo Wag last season and he came in and played well. In 10 games he averaged 11.0 PPG and 4.9 RPG. They also happened to draft his brother this year with pick number 8. Franz Wagner is more of a small-forward/wing player while Mo Wagner plays the 4 and 5 spots.
What Can We Expect From The Magic This Season?
The Magic have moved toward operation rebuild. Last season they traded away their franchise player: Nikola Vucevic as well as starters Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier. Now, they have one of the youngest rosters in the league.
There’s not much to expect from the Magic this year. They won’t be very good and they won’t be making it to the playoffs this season and maybe not for a while. The bright side is they have former number 1 pick Markelle Fultz returning at some point and Jonathan Isaac returning soon.
There is still an ounce of hope that Markelle can be something special. He started off strong last season until he tore his ACL. If he is still able to still have some of his athleticism post-injury and finish resurrecting his jump shot, he could be a solid player in the league.
Next year's draft class is looking pretty nice and the Magic will have a good chance at being in the top 5.