30 Teams in 30 Days: Magic Banks on Paolo Banchero as a Foundation for the Future

Orlando’s future hopes rest on the shoulders of Paolo Banchero, the No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft.

orlando magic

2021-22 Record: 22-60

key addition, Paolo Banchero (2022 draft)

prime subtraction, none

last season: Over a two-month winter period, the Magic won a total of four games, which sealed their fate as a basement-dwelling, rebuilt team. It didn’t help that rookie Jalen Suggs lost 34 games and started slowly, while veterans Terrence Ross (19), Markel Fultz (64) and Jonathan Isaacs (all 82) also missed crucial time. Despite some reassuring play by rookie forward Franz Wagner and second-year guard Cole Anthony, The Magic found themselves back in the draft lottery. This time, he was blessed with No 1 overall. (Stop if you’ve heard it before.)

Summer Summary: In its history of collecting No. 1 picks overall, Magic has done quite well. The previous draft resulted in Shaquille O’Neill, Penny Hardaway (after a draft-day trade for Chris Webber) and Dwight Howard. In their own way, all three were franchise-changers and helped the Magic reach the NBA Finals, before the two of them (O’Neill, Howard) went into a tizzy. So you could say their latest No. 1 has big high tops to fill.

Unlike O’Neill and Howard, Banchero did not like consensus; If so, Orlando would have confirmed as much in the draft lottery when the order was determined. Instead, the Magic weighed in on the strengths of Chet Holmgren (No. 2 overall in 2022) and Jabari Smith Jr. (No. 3) and toyed with the idea of ​​doing business with Hardaway in 1993… eventually following their gut. Before committing and taking Banchero on draft night.

Like many hot prospects over the past few decades, Banchero only played one year in college. Detecting them is more difficult than ever and, often, teams must place a fair amount of weight on a player’s high school and AAU years. At least in that regard, Banchero achieved all those levels because he was considered an NBA-level prospect with high school sophistication.

It’s easy to see why. He is 6-foot-10 and 250 pounds with the skills of a small player. His handle is solid, he has a good shooting range and he sees the floor. He is flexible enough to fit into multiple positions, a talent that is highly valued in the league.

Will he be the best in his draft class four or five seasons from now? maybe maybe not. As long as he’s in line for a rookie max – and doesn’t leave in a huff – Magic chose wisely.

Orlando had more decisions this summer: Retain the roster, or make wholesale changes? Based on what happened during free agency, the philosophy of magic was pretty clear – sticking with youth, building a foundation and abandoning, anyway, the pursuit of A-list free agents.

With this in mind, the Magic re-signed Gary Harris, Mo Bamba and Bol Bol when they could refuse to bring all three back, and would essentially drive it back with last season’s team (leaving Folds). Robin Lopez was the only rotation player.

The Magic gave Harris two years and $26 million, somewhat prosperous considering that Harris’ career had fallen flat as he signed a hefty contract in Denver, where he spent his first six seasons. The Magic saw positive signs last season, particularly on defence, and were encouraged by their superior 3-point shooting.

Bamba was an even more complicated decision. He is a former top-10 pick (number 6 overall in 2018), who has never gained much traction, mainly because his slim body prevents him from having a post appearance and therefore becoming a 7-foot 3-point shooter. forces. He also lost the center position to Wendell Carter Jr. and moved to further power. He’s a good floor-spreader (38.1% at 3-pointers last season) but doesn’t project as a volume shooter. He made a solid impression later in the season and conceded 10.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game, all career-highs. But, it will be curious to see where he gets the minutes with Banchero in the fold and the return of big man Jonathan Isaacs.

As the Magic didn’t have enough thin post players, they decided to lengthen the bowl. Like Bamba, the team’s investment in money and years is small enough to make sense.

Except for Harris (27) and Ross (31), every other player on the team is aged 24 and under. The lack of veteran attendance probably doesn’t mean much to a team that certainly needs more development and wants to return to the lottery again (unless Banchero did the kind promised by O’Neill and Howard). ). In NBA history, only really special rookies turn their club’s fortunes overnight—remember, not even LeBron James as a rookie could take the Cleveland Cavaliers to the playoffs.

By refusing to swing for the fence in free agency and trades, Magic is focusing on player development. You could say, in a way, they have already won big by getting another No. 1 overall pick before the season even started.

They work in favor of Orlando.

next: Charlotte Hornets , before: Atlanta Hawks

> 30 teams in 30 days: complete program


Sean Powell has covered the NBA for over 25 years. you can e-mail him here, search his collection here and follow it Twitter,

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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