Orlando Magic's Paolo Banchero (5) celebrates his three-point shot and a foul with Franz Wagner during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls Monday, Feb. 13, 2023, in Chicago. The magic won 100-91. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Orlando Magic Gear Up For Final Leg Of The Season

The Orlando Magic have struggled finding their footing in recent years. With the team not having made it past the first round of the playoffs since 2010, Orlando has consistently found itself at the bottom of the league standings. While that remains the case this season, the Magic have something now that they have not had in a long time: hope.

As the All-Star Weekend break comes to an end, the Magic currently sit at No. 13 in the Eastern Conference. With a 24-35 record, Orlando remains four games out from a play-in spot. While a top-10 seed is not out of the question, it will be an uphill battle for Orlando at this point in the season. However, their objectives for the remainder of the season do not rely on a playoff appearance. Instead, the Magic will hope to continue developing their young core as they focus on their franchise’s long-term success.

The Standouts For Orlando

The Magic have received contributions from all across the roster this season. However, Paolo Banchero has led the way for Orlando in nearly every way, shape and form. Banchero, the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA draft, currently leads his squad in points (19.9), rebounds (6.6), assists (3.6) and steals (0.9) per game. Fans and analysts alike have labeled Banchero as the clear-consensus pick for NBA Rookie of the Year.

Franz Wagner has also taken a major step forward in his sophomore year. He has become a major presence in Orlando’s offense, averaging 18.9 points per game on 48.4% shooting. He has also maintained a 36.6% shooting clip from three. Wendell Carter Jr. and Markelle Fultz have excelled as starters for the Magic as well. Carter Jr. has racked up 13 double-doubles in his 39 appearances this season, while Fultz is averaging career highs in points (13.0), rebounds (4.0) and steals (1.5) per game.

In addition to their go-to starters, Orlando has seen some strong performances off the bench as well. Moritz Wagner, Franz Wagner’s older brother, has emerged as a serviceable big man off the bench. He currently averages 11.2 points and 4.7 rebounds in 21 minutes per game. Meanwhile, third-year guard Cole Anthony has established himself as the team’s sixth man. Averaging 25.1 minutes per contest, Anthony has chipped in with 12.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.

Struggling To Put The Pieces Together

Despite some strong individual campaigns this year, the Magic have struggled to gel as a whole. The team ranks third-to-last in points per game (110.9) and fifth-to-last in points per game differential (-2.7). Part of the reason behind their growing pains this season has been sloppiness on both ends of the floor. Orlando has averaged 14.5 turnovers and 20.3 fouls per game. They also have some room to improve with their shot selection, as their 47.2 percent on field goals ranks in the bottom half of the NBA.

Orlando still has a long way to go in several aspects, from developing their raw talent to bringing in some new blood down the road. However, their core is already set, and Banchero can serve as the team’s future center piece. While things may seem bleak now, the future remains bright for this young Magic team.

About Jack Meyer

Jack Meyer is a third-year student at the University of Florida. He is majoring in Journalism and specializing in Sports and Media.

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