The Orlando Magic finished the 2021-22 season with a record of 22-60, ranking them dead last in the Eastern Conference. While most NBA fans would consider this type of season as a disappointment, the Magic have to be pretty happy with how their year went. They were able to build chemistry and more importantly develop their young talent. On top of that, they were able to secure the number 1 pick in this year’s draft, the value of that goes without saying. The Orlando Magic are closer to the play-in tournament than many people may think.
Number 1 Pick
The biggest thing that will happen in the Magic’s offseason is who they pick at #1 (obviously). There is a consensus top 3, Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith, and Paolo Banchero. Magic can’t make a wrong choice here. All 3 players offer something that the others don’t and would all fit perfectly onto the Magic roster. Holmgren has the most upside, but he will have the most work to get physically NBA ready, but that’s what a weight room and a diet are for right? Jabari Smith brings an elite perimeter shot and versatile defense, probably the safest pick here, but doesn’t have the room for growth as his two peers. Banchero, my favorite, is 6’10 and is perfect for today’s positionless NBA. He is too quick for big men and is too strong for wing defenders, every NBA GM’s dream.
Orlando Magic’s young talent
Where to start with the Magic’s young talent, there’s so much talent that I might need to write another post about it. Let’s start by naming some of these guys. We got Wendell Carter Jr., Cole Anthony, Franz Wagner, Jalen Suggs, Markelle Fultz, RJ Hampton, Jonathan Isaac (or is he joining Fox), and Mo Bamba (he doesn’t resign right?). The Magic’s 2022 record doesn’t reflect how much talent this roster has. Each one of those players showed something special last season, this coming season is about bringing that talent together into one cohesive team.
Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs
The Magic had picks #5 and #8 in last year’s draft. With those picks, they selected Jalen Suggs (#5) and Franz Wagner (#8). The latter having a much stronger performance in 2021 than his counterpart. Franz Wagner is a name Magic fans are excited about, the 6’9 Small forward averaged 15/4.5/2.9 and showcased his elite athleticism much to the demise of some unlucky defenders. In this case, 2 defenders.
Franz is doing everything on the court for the Magic and he is still developing his game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see his name amongst potential All-Stars in a few years time. Jalen Suggs left a lot to be desired in 2021. Jalen might have been thrown into the fire too quickly, not being able to adapt to the NBA speed. There is no reason that he shouldn’t be able to learn how to play in due time, but for the time being, he needs to find a consistent jump shot and continue being a pass-first player. Franz and Jalen are looking to be key contributors for the Magic this coming season.
Cole Anthony, Markelle Fultz, and Wendell Carter Jr.
Cole Anthony (Age 22), Markelle Fultz (Age 24), and Wendell Carter Jr. (Age 23) are finding their identity in the NBA. Cole and Wendell had a coming-of-age year for the Magic, both providing consistent production. Wendell was getting it done everywhere on the court, bringing production on offense and versatility on defense. Cole was shooting lights out to start the year, he came down to earth as the season progressed, but he is looking to improve his efficiency this coming year. Markelle Fultz, the young prodigy who succumbed to the pressure of Philly has started to find his place in the league with the Magic. While he only played 18 games this past season, when he was out there he looked like his college self. Bringing craftiness and a soft touch around the rim. He still needs to work on his jumper, but you can already see improvements.
Impact Players for the Magic in 2022-23
Wendell Carter Jr., Franz Wagner, Cole Anthony, Markelle Fultz, and Jalen Suggs look to be key impact players in 2022-23. Along with whoever the Magic take with their draft picks of #1, #32, and #35. On top of that they have a lot of cap space to work with. The Magic are silently flying under the radar for roster talent, but I expect them to make some noise in 2022. Hopefully we can see them make a play-in tournament run as they would be an exciting team to watch on national television.