Photo by ClutchPoints
After the summer the NBA has had, lots of teams have completely new rosters. With these new rosters comes the chance for new chemistry, a renewed sense of hope, and an wave of excitement between fanbases and front offices alike.
But the Orlando Magic? Yeah. They don’t have that.
The Magic spent this summer quietly working with their existing roster in hopes of making the playoffs again this season, the first season after making the playoffs for the first time since 2012. Some critics have claimed that this isolation from the free agency market could hurt the Magic, while others say this development of chemistry may be one thing the Magic will be able to use to their advantage in April.
For me, I think only time will tell how the Magic will fare with their hungry lineup this season. But, whether or not the Magic pull off the act or fall on their faces, here are 2 things to watch for in Orlando this season.
Watch Out for Markelle Fultz
I had high hopes for Fultz coming into the league. He looked really good at Washington, where he showed his creativity on the court and accuracy from all over the floor. Yet in his first 2 years in the league, Markelle Fultz has instead showed nothing more than his inconsistency and inability to stay healthy. Despite that, I think his new home in Orlando could bring the best out of him.
For starters, Fultz will be able to get a lot of touches at the point guard in Orlando. In Philadelphia, the presence of point-forward Ben Simmons mostly forced Fultz into the shooting guard slot, where he was pressured into taking (and missing) more three-pointers and play off ball. But in Orlando, the point guard position is all but open. Long time backup D.J. Augustin started most games at the 1 last season, and with the only other point guard being the inconsistent Michael Carter-Williams, it looks like Fultz can get a lot of minutes in his native position of point guard. With this shift, I think we’ll be able to see more of the Fultz we saw in college, the Fultz who passes the ball at a high level and is more ball dominant.
Fultz also has the advantage of not having to shoot the ball frequently. Although he didn’t take many threes last season, Markelle Fultz still sometimes functioned as the team’s shooter on the floor (or second option, behind Tobias Harris). In Orlando, he will be surrounded by Evan Fournier and Terrence Ross, two high caliber shooters who will be able to take the pressure of shooting the 3 off of Fultz. This will be a great help, considering his 27% career 3PFG% would only bring down the Magic this season. With a pair of electrifying and high-level shooters at his side, I think Fultz will be able to show the best parts of his game and be the much needed court magician for the Magic this season.
It's Time for Mo Bamba to Break Out
The Magic are in a strange situation when it comes to Texas center Mo Bamba. They already have an All-Star center in Nikola Vucevic, and a rising power forward in Aaron Gordon. So, where does Mo Bamba fit?
He fits wherever he wants to fit.
Bamba’s unique game and endless potential has left Magic fans drooling every time he checked in last season. But, unfortunately for Magic fans, that was only for about 16 minutes per game last season, and he appeared in a little over half of their games. Nevertheless, I think this is the year that Mo Bamba will start to make some noise.
Why do I think that? Watch the tape.
Bamba has looked great in his first few preseason games. Although the numbers may look small, his impact in his minimal minutes has been amazing. He looks a little stronger and a little smarter, averaging 10.5 PPG to go with 5.8 RPG through 5 games (with 2 starts). Not only did his down low play look efficient, but his 46% 3-point shooting looks unstoppable, and his 2 BPG was like icing on the cake. And with increased chemistry from teammates, plus the addition of a crafty point guard in Markelle Fultz, I think Bamba will be able to get a little more done this season with the minutes he’ll be provided.
With these two players making a new impact in the league, we’re excited to see just how the Magic fare this season! Check out our other coverage of the Magic all season long!