NBA 2023-2024 Preview: How Far Will the Orlando Magic and Paolo Banchero Go?

Orlando Magic NBA Preview 2023 2024

As the tip-off to the 2023-2024 NBA season approaches, basketball pundits and fans are abuzz with predictions and analyses. Amidst the myriad of teams and players being dissected, the Orlando Magic, rejuvenated by the young prodigy Paolo Banchero, are emerging as a particularly intriguing narrative. Banchero, with his prodigious talent and undeniable charisma, has breathed new life into the Magic franchise, rekindling hopes of playoff aspirations and perhaps even beyond. But as the season’s challenges loom large, a pressing question lingers: How far can Banchero guide this budding Orlando team? Join us in this NBA 2023-2024 preview as we delve into the potential trajectory of the Orlando Magic under the guiding hand of their newest star.

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Review of 2022/2023: Orlando Finds Its Leading Star

The 2022/23 season for the Orlando Magic was a triumph. Despite a misleading 13th place finish, just one win short of the 11th spot, the Magic has charted a clear course for the upcoming seasons. This direction is led by Rookie of the Year, Paolo Banchero, who made a historical debut. Early in the season, comparisons with LeBron James were rampant across television broadcasts. It’s exceptional to witness a player averaging 20 points right from his debut season. The only downside in an almost perfect scenario: his shooting, especially from beyond the arc, hasn’t been impressive, hovering below a 30% success rate.

The rest of the team also showed promise. Franz Wagner emerged as a dependable second-in-command. Wendell Carter Jr. dominated the center position, pushing out competitors like Mo Bamba and Bol Bol. The Magic now has its frontline settled. In the backcourt, the duo of Cole Anthony and Markelle Fultz may not be the most creative but they bring a unique flair to the team. However, the squad still lacks offensive firepower. Orlando ranked among the bottom five teams in offensive rating. It’s a pity since this young roster possesses a great spirit and dedication to hard work. What’s missing is a strategic player in the backcourt to act as an on-court extension of Coach Jamahl Mosley’s strategies.

Offseason Moves

Departures

Bol Bol (to Suns); Michael Carter Williams (free agent).

Extension

Moritz Wagner; Admiral Schofield (Two-Way contract), Kevon Harris (Two-Way contract).

New Arrivals

Joe Ingles (from Bucks); Anthony Black (6th pick of the 2023 draft); Jett Howard (11th pick of the 2023 draft).

Orlando Magic’s Starting Five

Markelle Fultz – Gary Harris – Franz Wagner – Paolo Banchero – Wendell Carter Jr.

Bench Rotation

  • Point Guards: Cole Anthony, Anthony Black.
  • Shooting Guards: Jalen Suggs, Jett Howard, Kevon Harris (Two-Way contract).
  • Small Forwards: Joe Ingles, Caleb Houstan, Admiral Schofield (Two-Way contract)
  • Power Forwards: Chuma Okeke, Jonathan Isaac.
  • Centers: Moritz Wagner, Goga Bitadze.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Weakness: Lack of Playmakers

The Magic’s team might face a similar challenge as last year when it comes to playmaking. Drafting Anthony Black is intended to address this issue, but the former Arkansas point guard might take some time to adjust to the NBA pace. He was seen committing numerous turnovers in the Summer League, and this might not improve with the tightened defenses in the main league. It’s likely he’ll be coming off the bench for the majority of the season.

This hands the playmaking duties mainly to Markelle Fultz or Cole Anthony, who, barring any surprises, aren’t exactly specialists in this area. Both Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero have shown they can create scoring opportunities, but they’re more of scorers or self-creators than pure playmakers. Until Anthony Black fully adapts, the Magic’s offense might remain somewhat limited this year.

Strength: Potential Everywhere

Orlando could be one of the feel-good stories of the season. This young squad is bursting with X-factors. Of course, the Magic will go as far as Paolo Banchero takes them. But there’s always a chance for a breakout from Anthony Black, a pleasant surprise from Jett Howard, or even a standout performance from Jalen Suggs, if we’re being optimistic. All these youngsters have the right mindset. The team has great chemistry, with each player pushing the other to be better. They’ve been on a consistent upward trajectory for the past two years, and this group will undoubtedly return stronger than the previous season. Plus, the player hierarchy seems to be clearly established. Now it’s all about patience and fine-tuning.

Player to Watch: Franz Wagner

While much attention has been on Paolo Banchero, it’s essential to focus on the one expected to be his right-hand man. Franz Wagner, a world champion with Germany, will aim to continue his momentum from being named the MVP of the World Cup finals. As he enters his third season, his confidence is at an all-time high, but the full scope of his potential is yet to be determined. Can he truly serve as a key deputy in the NBA? We should start getting answers this season.

End-of-Season Prediction: 12th in the East

This season, Orlando will be expected to compete for a play-in spot. However, as of now, it’s challenging to guarantee them a postseason berth. Paolo Banchero will be under closer scrutiny from scouts and will face added pressure. The draft recruits might take some time to find their groove, suggesting the season’s beginning could echo the previous one: promising, but not quite there. The challenge with young squads is that it’s hard to predict when they’ll truly break out. So, don’t be shocked if Orlando performs better than expected and snags a play-in spot.

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