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Orlando Magic 2022-23 NBA preview: Watching Paolo Banchero & Co. develop will be fun to watch

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Welcome to your honeymoon in Orlando. The Magic have far better seasons ahead of them than the 2022-23 campaign is likely to produce, but this group may never have a more fun year than the one they’re about to embark on. The total tank is over. There is a nucleus that should be ready to win in a few years, but the fans understand that this will take time. Losing is acceptable for the next 18 months. The main points, development and vibrations are important.

This team should provide all three in spades. No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero leads the way as perhaps Orlando’s most exciting hitter since Tracy McGrady, but he’s far from the only young star on the spot. Franz Wagner is ending a brilliant rookie career only left unnoticed by Scotty Barnes and Evan Mobley. Wendell Carter Jr. had a breakout season in place of Nikola Vucevic, and the Magic likely settled on the front court for the next five years with the trio.

Key changes

  • Chose Paolo Banquero #1 and Caleb Housten #32.
  • Re-signed Mo Bamba to a two-year, $21 million contract.
  • Re-signed Gary Harris to a two-year, $26 million contract.

Compound

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Player

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Job title

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Age

Cole Anthony

watch over

22

i am bamba

Center

24

Paolo Bankero

Forward

19

Was Was

Center

22

Ignas Brazdeikis

Forward

23

Devin Kannady

watch over

26

Wendell Carter Jr.

Center

23

Markell Fultz

watch over

24

R. J. Hampton

watch over

21

Kevon Harris

watch over

25

Caleb Hustan

Forward

19

Jonathan Isaac

Forward

24

Tuma Okeke

Forward

24

Terrence Ross

watch over

31

Admiral Schofield

Forward

25

Jalen Suggs

watch over

21

Gary Harris

watch over

28

Franz Wagner

Forward

21

Mortis Wagner

Forward

25

Top of the Key: How good is Paolo Bankero really?

Orlando has most of the utility players the opposition needs. Wagner satisfies their need for versatile wings. Carter and Moe Bamba give them a change on the front yard, and as we’ll get to soon, they don’t have a shortage of guards. Their future will be as bright as Banchero allows it to be, and the early signs are overwhelmingly positive.

Banchero was the top player in the summer league, displaying a rare combination of athleticism and tact in his short time in Vegas. We knew about scoring. The playmaking was a bit of a surprise and while he has a long way to go defensively, the tools were very well showcased in the Summer League showcase. The Magic will likely let Bunchero lead the offense for large chunks of his rookie season. There will be issues to be resolved, but at least he should publish the numbers from day one.

Next up: who will win in the rear game of musical chairs?

It’s safe to assume that Terrence Ross, as the only healthy veteran in the backcourt, will get a few minutes. This leaves a limited number of minutes and touches to be shared between the following four young guards:

  • Markell Fultz, who returned from an ACL tear late last season to play the best basketball of his career, may be back in shape once he recovers from a broken left big toe and injury, the team reported on Monday. Fultz may not be exactly a three-pointer, but he set a new career high in points, assists and steals in 36 minutes in his 18 games last season.
  • Jalen Suggs is fourth overall in the 2021 draft. Suggs was a disappointing offense but was one of the best defensive players in all of basketball, rookie or otherwise. Suggs was the attacking engine behind Gonzaga’s team, which had gone nearly undefeated two years earlier. He’ll probably get better a little.
  • Cole Anthony, Orlando heat specialist. Anthony was averaging over 16 points per game a season ago, but he has yet to score 40 percent from the field in a single season. If Anthony is going to keep the lead role, he will have to score more effectively.
  • R. J. Hampton, a forgotten youth acquired through a deal with Aaron Gordon. He stood out at the end of his rookie season but took a step back last year when Suggs took over and Fultz returned. He’s the most lost minute in this group, but he’s as athletically gifted as any of them. He’s a Magic lottery ticket that’s unlikely to pay off, but could bring huge rewards down the road.

Two of these guards will start work towards the end of the season, but since another lottery pick is likely to be selected after the season, it is possible that only one starting job will be available after that. These four are fighting not only for this job. They are fighting for a place in Orlando’s future.

Also, what can Jonathan Isaac contribute?

Hey, remember Jonathan Isaac? When we last saw him, he was one of the best defensive forwards in the NBA. Of course, when we last saw him, Russell Westbrook was playing for the Rockets, the Suns were a plucky bunch of youngsters who won eight bubbles in a row, and I’m pretty sure Harry Truman was still president.

Yes, it’s been two full seasons since Isaac stepped onto the NBA court, and what that means for his progression remains in question. Its size and length are still almost unchanged, but it remains to be seen if it can move sideways as quickly. Without a solid three-pointer, his value quickly drops unless he’s an elite defender, and with Wagner and Bunchero in the frontcourt minute spot, he’ll be hard to come by. If Isaac didn’t quickly return to his former self, he might not be with the Magic for much longer.

Key games

October 19: Magic at the Pistons: This is the debut of Paolo Banquero. Do I need to say more?

November 7: Rockets at Magic: For months, the basketball world has been expecting the Magic to pick Jabari Smith Jr. No. 1 overall. They went with Banchero and we’ll get their first head-to-head showdown at the start of the season.

January 30: Magic at 76ers: Surprisingly, despite being traded back in 2018, Fultz has yet to play an away game against his old team. In January, he will face Philadelphia fans for the first time since he was traded, and while the distance is probably long enough to avoid a major boo, overall it will undoubtedly be an emotional comeback.



Source: www.cbssports.com

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