Orlando Magic offseason recap: Grades, preseason tier, changes, end of 2022-23 goal

The NBA offseason! It feels like it never stops. Except here’s the thing: I think we got to a place where it’s basically over and we’re just treading water until we get to training camp toward the end of September. Sure, we might get a trade request from a disgruntled star player before we get to preseason, and that request might be approved by his incumbent team. For the most part, it feels like we know where the free agents are and where rosters stand heading into next season.

With that, I thought it was a good time to look at how rosters changed and what it means for all 30 NBA teams. We can do that by examining what happened to them last season, how their four groups of players (lead guards, wings, forwards, and bigs) changed this summer, whether or not the team got better, how they find success with the new group , and give them an overall grade for the summer. Also, we’ll bring you a local or national expert to answer three pressing questions about this team.

How an offseason ended up for each team depends on what their goals are for building their group of guys. These are the statuses available for the 30 teams:

  • Franchise rebuilding
  • Tired of rebuilding franchise
  • Play-In Tournament gives them life
  • Playoff hopeful
  • On the brink of contention
  • Contender
  • Championship gold bust

Today, we are breaking down the Orlando Magic (22-60), who are hoping they have found their franchise guy.


Overall grade from the offseason: B-
Team status: Rebuilding Franchise

What happened last season?

The Orlando Magic dove deep into the rebuilding pool last season, and the results were about what you would expect. They lost the second most games in the NBA behind Houston, and 14 of their 60 losses were by 20 or more points, which put them tied for fourth with Detroit for the most 20-point losses. Orlando was trying to figure out how to develop his young talent under first-year head coach Jamahl Mosley. We saw some surprising fight out of a young starting lineup, but it rarely gave the Magic a real chance to win most nights. The lineup of Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba played the eighth-most minutes in the NBA and was only outscored by 1.1 points per 100 possessions. For a team that finished with a net rating of -8.1 last season, that’s incredible success for their main lineup. It defended well, but it wasn’t able to score.

Suggs battled injuries during his rookie campaign, and we saw him struggle plenty on offense. But he still had a pretty positive impact on the team. His fellow rookie Wagner was a revelation. He was one of the most impressive players from a very good rookie class, and we saw Wagner show out time and time again to give the Magic fans some excitement. The Magic were actually quite competitive defensively, but they had the worst offense in the league. Bamba and Carter both had bounce-back seasons. And eventually Markelle Fultz made his debut after recovering from a knee injury the previous season. This Orlando team was looking for a star and a leader, especially on offense.


Positional changes

We may have some quibbles over which players belong in specific groups, but I’m just going with my overall impressions of where they did belong and where they probably will belong next season. Not ordered in the expected depth chart. Also, lot of deals are done on draft night where a player is drafted by one team for a trade directed by their trade partner. So we’re doing catch-alls for players acquired on draft night as drafted by their current team. It’s just easier that way.

Be sure to check out David Aldridge’s team offseason rankings with the Magic clocking in at No. 11.

Changes to Orlando’s Lead Guards

Lead Guards 2021-22 Players 2022-23 Players

1

Cole Anthony

Cole Anthony

2

Jalen Suggs

Jalen Suggs

3

Markelle Fultz

Markelle Fultz

4

Devin Cannady

Devin Cannady

(Lead guards are just considered the main initiators from the backcourt position.)

Transactions: None

Did Orlando improve here? There’s no real improvement here from a team personnel standpoint because the players are pretty much the same. Where you’ll hopefully see improvement if you’re the Magic or a Magic fan is with the health/development of both Suggs and Fultz. Suggests had moments as a rookie but ultimately struggled to make shots while playing only 48 games. Fultz was recovering from an ACL tear and made it into just 18 contests.

Changes to Orlando’s Wings

wings 2021-22 Players 2022-23 Players

1

Franz Wagner

Franz Wagner

2

Gary Harris Jr.

Terrence Ross

3

Terrence Ross

RJ Hampton

4

RJ Hampton

Caleb Houstan

5

Ignas Brazdeikis

Admiral Schofield

6

Admiral Schofield

Kevon Harris

7

x

Drake Jeffries

8

x

Gary Harris Jr.

(Wings will do some playmaking, but they’re mostly there to get their job done from the perimeter in various scoring or 3-and-D roles.)

Transactions: Re-signed Gary Harris Jr. (two years, $26 million) | Drafted Caleb Houstan with 32nd pick | Signed Admiral Schofield to two-way | Signed Kevon Harris to two-way | Signed Drake Jeffries (Exhibit 10)

Did Orlando improve here? I don’t think you can say they improved after the injury to Harris this offseason. After signing a two-year extension with the team, Harris suffered a torn meniscus that will keep him out for some time. He’ll hopefully be back this season. I like the selection of Houstan early in the second round. Everything else is just hoping Wagner improves on his impressive rookie season and RJ Hampton is able to string together some good moments on both ends of the floor.

Changes to Orlando’s Forwards

Forwards 2021-22 Players 2022-23 Players

1

Chuma Okeke

Paolo Banchero

2

bowl bowl

Jonathan Isaac

3

Jonathan Isaac

Chuma Okeke

4

x

bowl bowl

(Bigger guys who aren’t quite wings across the board, but they’re not consistently playing big enough to get the full-time “big” distinction.)

Transactions: Drafted Paolo Banchero with first pick | Re-signed Bol Bol (two years, $4.4 million)

Did Orlando improve here? Massive improvement in two ways. First and foremost, the Magic grabbed Banchero with the top pick in the draft. He looks like a do-it-all prospect and a guy with the makings of being the franchise player the Magic have been looking for since Dwight Howard left. Secondly, the return of Jonathan Isaac should be a massive addition to the Magic’s rotation. His knee injury kept him out since August 2020. His defense alone could help transform a Magic team desperate for momentum.

Changes to Orlando’s Bigs

Bigs 2021-22 Players 2022-23 Players

1

Mo Bamba

Mo Bamba

2

Wendell Carter Jr.

Wendell Carter Jr.

3

Robin Lopez

Moritz Wagner

4

Moritz Wagner

x

(The big fellas; it’s pretty self-explanatory.)

Transactions: Re-signed Mo Bamba (two years, $20.6 million)

Did Orlando improve here? No changes here other than Robin Lopez moving to a new team in free agency. The Magic re-signed Bamba on a pretty reasonable two-year deal. If he plays the way he did for much of last season, it’ll be a good value play for them. His ability to pair with Carter last season was encouraging. Now he’ll need to show he can work with Banchero on both ends.



Jonathan Isaac has been out since 2020 due to knee injuries. (David Richard / USA Today)

Did the team get better?

It probably depends on what you think of Banchero as a difference-maker right away, but I’m a believer. I think the Magic did get better, both in terms of talent and, obviously, in terms of this franchise’s direction. It would be a lot easier to buy into them as more of a team with a good mix of veterans and young prospects if Harris hadn’t hurt his knee. This was a quiet, subtle offseason for a team that ended up with the top pick in the draft. The additions of Banchero and Houstan were big for the future; now we just wait and see how young guys develop.

What does it mean for next season?

We should still probably expect a lot of losses. While Banchero is the focus of this team and its exposure right now, there are two other things to truly keep an eye on as we head into next season. The first thing is the backcourt. Suggs not being able to establish himself as the best guard on this team would be a huge disappointment. That’s no offense intended toward Anthony or Fultz, but Suggs needs to be the guy who sets the tone with Banchero. He showed flashes of it defensively, but he has to make shots. It’s as simple as that.

The other thing is what the wings and forwards are able to do, specifically how Wagner and Isaac work together. Wagner was a huge win for them in the draft with that pick coming from the Nikola Vučević trade. Where can his game go, and how can Isaac fit next to him? We haven’t seen Isaac play in two years, so there will be some adjustment getting back on the court. If Isaac is the same defensive guru we saw pre-injury, the combination of Isaac and Wagner with a rim protector behind them could be devastating for opponents. Throw in Suggs as a hound on the perimeter, and the Magic might have a top-10 defense more quickly than we assume.


Three quick questions with Mike Vorkunov, NBA and Basketball Business writer for The Athletic

Do we think Paolo Banchero will be a star right away?

I don’t know if I’m ready to say he’ll be an All-Star next season — that’s a lot to ask of any rookie — but I do think he will be really good on the rookie curve and a productive player. I think he’ll actually be the surprise of this rookie class because there was so little hype for Banchero ahead of the draft, and the belief was that he wouldn’t be the No. 1 pick. Goal at NBA Summer League, I was surprised at how big Banchero is, and I think it’ll help him make an easier transition to the NBA and do all the things the Magic will ask him to do.

Should Magic fans be more excited about Suggs or Wagner moving forward?

Hard to say it should be Suggs. He got hurt, and he underperformed expectations as a rookie. Wagner, however, was a delight. He and Banchero look like the bedrocks for the Magic in their rebuild. Why wouldn’t Orlando love a big two-way wing? There should be plenty of excitement for Wagner, while Suggs remains a question.

Do we think Isaac will have an impact immediately on this team?

Is it possible to use a hands up shrug emoji here? Isaac has played in two NBA games since he suffered a knee injury on Jan. 1, 2020. There was an ACL tear in August 2020 and then another injury last season. It’s hard to project what to expect from Isaac when availability remains a question even if it has been two years since his ACL tear and he seems to be nearing a comeback. Isaac will be a wild card for the Magic, and it’ll be interesting to see how he fits into a talented frontcourt that has Banchero, Wagner, Bamba and Carter.

Team status goal by end of 2022-23: Tired of Rebuilding

(Photo of Paolo Banchero: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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