The pieces could finally be coming together for the Orlando Magic, as the team seems poised for a steady climb up the NBA ranks in the next few seasons.
After just two playoff appearances in the last 10 seasons and eight top-10 draft picks in that span – including the No. 1 overall selection of Paolo Banchero in June – the Magic are hitting one of the most exciting points for the franchise since the prime days of star center Dwight Howard.
But, like every other team, Orlando's record still sits at 0-0 ahead of the season. Any associated hype has yet to prove itself.
ESPN's analysis on the Magic's rank:
Orlando's big decision came down during a dramatic draft night, when it selected Paolo Banchero with the No. 1 overall pick. The hope is that Banchero can develop into the face of the franchise star it hasn't had since Dwight Howard. The Magic re-signed Mo Bamba and Gary Harris — now they have to hope Jonathan Isaac can still be a difference-maker as he returns from missing over two years because of a knee injury.
One of the most promising features of this year's Orlando team under second-year coach Jamahl Mosley is the versatility and youth that will be in abundance on the hardwood.
The Magic are loaded with exciting talent in the backcourt, as Markelle Fultz, Cole Anthony, and Jalen Suggs are aiming for a fully healthy season together after each guy missed various points of last year due to injury. Second-round rookie Caleb Houstan has an elite ceiling as a shooter, while the veteran presence of Gary Harris and Terrence Ross should also remain highly valuable.
Right behind them in the frontcourt is a handful of lengthy and versatile forwards that will likely drive Orlando's success in the coming season. Along with the polished scoring and all-around offensive ability that Banchero can bring, the Magic have do-it-all man Franz Wagner, budding star Wendell Carter Jr., interior disruptor Mo Bamba, and underrated talent Chuma Okeke.
It's hard to look at Orlando's roster and not feel excited about what this season could bring. But as it stands, the team will continue to be viewed as an Eastern Conference bottom-feeder until proven otherwise.
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