The Magic are embarking on another rebuild after trading all of their veteran pieces over the last seven months. That process got off to a promising start when Jalen Suggs surprisingly slipped to Orlando’s with the No. 5 overall pick in the draft. Suggs turning into a star is franchise’s clearest path to being competitive again, but there are many more intriguing young pieces on this roster heading into the new year. This season will be able to deciding which of those young players are long-term keepers. That’s enough to make the Magic as a fun watch even if they won’t win many games.
For the Magic, once again, it’s not about the number in the win column. It’s purely about development and health. So, best case scenario would be that members of the young core the Magic assembled take a step forward and carve out specific roles to help determine which players are part of the team’s future. The best best-case scenario would include Jalen Suggs becoming the face of the franchise, Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz making comebacks and completing a healthy season, and Wendell Carter Jr. and/or Mo Bamba emerging as a true starting center worthy of an extension.
Any worst-case scenario type of the season for the Magic is tied directly to the health of Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz. Both are coming off torn ACLs and both recently signed extensions, meaning much of the Magic future is dependent on a pair of rehabbed knees. Any type of setback, or absolute worst case being another season-ending injury, would be demoralizing for the organization and fan base.
The most-likely scenario for the Magic this season is that the team generates some optimism and excitement for the future. With nine rotation players under the age of 24, plus a first-time head coach in Jamahl Mosley, there are going to be growing pains. But amid another potential 20-something win season, there will also be growth and development and proof that the Magic are finally on a clear path in their latest rebuild.
Here’s the list: Jonathan Isaac, Markelle Fultz, Jalen Suggs, Chuma Okeke, Cole Anthony, R.J. Hampton, Wendell Carter Jr., Mo Bamba, Franz Wagner. That’s a lot of young, and mostly very raw, talent. With a guard-heavy roster and something of a young center controversy, it’s almost the basketball equivalent of throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks. I’m excited to see what sticks, to see which players take a leap, to see how the chemistry builds between this young group. Also very excited to see the pregame shenanigans between former enemies Robin Lopez and mascot Stuff the Magic Dragon.
Otto Porter Jr.