30 Teams in 30 Days: Magic bank on Paolo Banchero as foundation for the future

Paolo Banchero, the No. 1 choose in the 2022 draft, has Orlando’s future hopes on his shoulders.

Orlando Magic

2021-22 report: 22-60

Key addition: Paolo Banchero (2022 draft)

Key subtractions: None

Last season: In a two-month winter stretch, the Magic received a complete of 4 video games, which sealed their destiny as a basement-dwelling, rebuilding crew. It did not assist that rookie Jalen Suggs missed 34 video games and began slowly, whereas veterans Terrence Ross (19), Markelle Fultz (64) and (*30*) Issac (all 82) additionally missed vital time. Despite some reassuring play by rookie ahead Franz Wagner and second-year guard Cole Anthony, the Magic discovered themselves again in the Draft lottery. This time, they had been blessed with the No. 1 general choose. (Stop should you’ve heard this one earlier than.)

Summer abstract: In their historical past of accumulating No. 1 general picks, the Magic have achieved fairly properly. Previous drafts resulted in Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway (after a Draft-day commerce for Chris Webber) and Dwight Howard. In their very own distinct means, all three had been franchise-changers and helped the Magic attain the NBA Finals earlier than two of them (O’Neal, Howard) left in a huff. So you would possibly say their newest No. 1 has massive excessive tops to fill.

Unlike O’Neal and Howard, Banchero wasn’t a consensus selection; in that case, Orlando would’ve confirmed as a lot at the Draft lottery when the order was decided. Instead, the Magic weighed the deserves of Chet Holmgren (No. 2 general in 2022) and Jabari Smith Jr. (No. 3) and toyed with the thought of โ€‹โ€‹buying and selling down as they did with Hardaway in 1993 … earlier than lastly following their intestine and taking Banchero on draft evening.

Like many scorching prospects over the previous couple of many years, Banchero performed just one yr in school. Scouting them is trickier than ever and, typically, groups should place an inexpensive quantity of weight on a participant’s highschool and AAU years. At least in that regard, Banchero aced all these ranges as he was thought-about an NBA-level prospect as a highschool sophomore.

It’s simple to see why. He’s 6-foot-10 and 250 kilos with the abilities of a smaller participant. His deal with is stable, his taking pictures vary is first rate and he sees the ground. He’s versatile sufficient to suit in a number of positions, a expertise that is extremely valued in the league.

Will he be the finest in his Draft class 4 or 5 seasons from now? Maybe, perhaps not. As lengthy as he is in line for a rookie max by then โ€” and would not depart in a huff โ€” the Magic selected properly.

Orlando had extra choices to make this summer season: Keep the roster intact, or make wholesale adjustments? Based on what transpired throughout free company, the Magic’s philosophy was very clear โ€” stick to youth, construct a foundation and forego, for now anyway, chasing A-list free brokers.

With that in thoughts, the Magic re-signed Gary Harris, Mo Bamba and Bol Bol once they may’ve declined to carry again all three, and can basically run it again with final season’s crew (the solely rotation participant to go away the fold was Robin Lopez).

The Magic gave Harris two years and $26 million, considerably wealthy on condition that Harris’ profession has flatlined since he signed a fats contract in Denver, the place he spent his first six seasons. The Magic did see optimistic indicators final season, particularly on protection, and had been inspired by his improved 3-point taking pictures.

Bamba was an excellent trickier determination. He’s a former top-10 choose (No. 6 general in 2018) who by no means gained a lot traction, primarily as a result of his skinny physique prevents him from being a publish presence and subsequently compelled him to change into a 7-foot 3-point shooter. He additionally misplaced the heart place to Wendell Carter Jr. and shifted to energy ahead. He’s a good floor-spreader (38.1% on 3-pointers final season) however would not undertaking as a quantity shooter. He left a stable impression later in the season and delivered 10.6 factors, 8.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per recreation, all profession highs. But, it will likely be curious to see the place he will get minutes with Banchero in the fold and massive man (*30*) Isaac returning.

As if the Magic did not have sufficient skinny publish gamers, they determined to provide Bol an extended look. As with Bamba, the crew’s funding in cash and years is sufficiently small to make sense.

With the exception of Harris (27) and Ross (31), each different participant on the crew is 24 and youthful. That lack of veteran presence most likely will not imply a lot to a crew that absolutely wants extra improvement and appears to return to the lottery once more (until Banchero reveals the type of promise O’Neal and Howard did). In NBA historical past, solely really particular rookies change their membership’s fortunes in a single day โ€” keep in mind, even LeBron James could not take the Cleveland Cavaliers to the playoffs as a rookie.

By refusing to swing for the fence in free company and trades, the Magic are focusing on participant improvement. You would possibly say, in a means, they already received massive even earlier than the season begins by getting one other No. 1 general choose in the fold.

Those are inclined to work in Orlando’s favor.

Up subsequent: Charlotte Hornets | Previously: Atlanta Hawks

> 30 groups in 30 days: Complete schedule

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Shaun Powell has coated the NBA for greater than 25 years. You can e-mail him right here, discover his archive right here and observe him on Twitter.

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