Credit to the Orlando Magic and specially head coach Jamahl Mosley for figuring out a way to throw other NBA teams for a loop by starting a huge lineup consisting of Jalen Suggs,Franz Wagner,Paolo Banchero, and Bol Bol who seems to be finding his footing in the NBA on the Orlando Magic. I quite frankly believed Bol Bol was going to be the last piece to a possibly dynasty in Denver alongside Nikola Jokic and of course Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr who can’t go without notice. Looking at the Orlando Magic no one expected them to really compete much this year and they haven’t been mentioned as a possible destination for VIctor Wembanyama who is set to break the NBA going into the 2023 NBA draft next summer. I think the Magic should continue to start Franz Wagner,Jalen Suggs,Paolo Banchero and Bol Bol with Bol Bol being the most likely to lose his starting job assuming his play drops off or maybe he starts to get shredded on pick and rolls and Mosley decides the Magic are better off going with Mo Bamba and see if he can finally figure it out.
Banchero seems like he’ll be a perennial all-star for years to come and quite possibly a top 10 player in the NBA but will that be enough to get the Orlando Magic to the top of the league within the next few years? I mean we are watching Luka Doncic terrorizing the league at the moment yet all he’s got on his resume so far in the playoffs is a few first-round exits and Conference Finals appearance last season where he was dealt with rather easily by the Golden State Warriors. I wouldn’t bank of Paolo Banchero ever surpassing Luka Doncic at the NBA level but just like Luka someone else other than Banchero will need to step up and be that robin in Orlando. Head coach Jason Kidd has already indicated Luka Doncic has no robin, the Luka-Porzingis tandem never worked out and now they are banking on a big the Detroit Pistons brought from the G-League who started collecting 20 points and 10 rebounds with ease got himself a nice pay-day with Houston flopped there with expectations and now the Mavericks are hopeful he could provide them with the front-court scoring they sorely lacked against the Warriors in the Conference Finals.
I am not the biggest Luka Doncic fan being that he is often compared to LeBron James, he is indeed a special talent and everyone is trying to figure out whether he is more LeBron or more Harden I’d argue he’s more Harden but that is a subject for another day. Back to the Orlando Magic, watched Franz Wagner at Michigan and I loved his versatility at his size reminded me more of a cross between Kevin Love and Hedo Turkoglu but unless Paolo Banchero becomes a top 5 player in the game the Magic will have no chance at competing for a championship with Franz Wagner as the second option on the roster. Jalen Suggs and Bol Bol have promising ceilings, I like Jalen Suggs as a pure point-guard but he’s got to clean up that jumpshot and has to become an efficient shooter to take his game to the next level being that he does not project to be elite at anything as a point-guard just above average in most areas aside from 3-point shooting. Bol Bol’s skill-set at his size is very impressive but he has a very slow release on his shot and the concerns about his conditioning and ability to stay on the court will always be in question.
Chuma Okeke has been rather productive off the bench but I look at him a lot like Rui Hachimura in Washington where the Magic are coming to grips with him not becoming the star they expected. Terrence Ross is sort of just hanging around until he possibly gets moved at the trade deadline to a team whom could use an extra floor-spacer or scorer off the bench but between Franz Wagner,Jalen Suggs,and Bol Bol I’d have to side with Bol Bol being the biggest x-factor for the Orlando Magic going forward. Much like Giannis Antetokoumpo who was drafted 15th overall in his class by the Milwaukee Bucks Bol Bol is a project that if brought along the correct way could be a huge difference maker, not that Bol Bol will one day be in consideration for the best player in the league but he could be that robin to Paolo Banchero for years to come.
I haven’t mentioned Cole Anthony just because he’s limited physically and will never give you much defensively and to top it off he just isn’t an elite talent no matter what his approach might be to the game or what he learned at North Carolina. Jonathan Isaac who has been injured practically his entire playing career is a liability at this point and will never blossom into the Kevin Durant/Kevin Garnett hybrid everyone was expecting, well at least me a basketball junkie who actually was aware of who he was when he was drafted 6th overall and no one seemed to care. Point guard Markelle Fultz was another acquisition Orlando Magic GM John Hammond wanted the Magic fanbase to be patient with but everyone believed he was delusional when he proclaimed the Magic would be the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference this season. From the looks of it at the moment a 6th seed is possible if Banchero can actually play like the top 10 player I am expecting him to become with time in his rookie campaign.
I think it’s great that the Orlando Magic finally drafted someone who could actually be the face of the franchise after years of expecting Victor Oladipo,Tobias Harris, and Nikola Vucevic to fill the void left by Dwight Howard after his fallout with Stan Van Gundy but someone has to step up and become an untouchable piece much like Banchero will be from now until 2030 at least when Paolo might finally take an exit assuming the Magic decide to go in a different direction or maybe Banchero washes out early. As I previously stated the Magic could draft once again in the top 5 and draft a Scoot Henderson or Victor Wembanyama both who would easily make suitable running mates for Paolo Banchero but they’ll need internal development as well. Bol Bol has the ability to give opposing defenses and offense something to deal with which we might have never seen in the NBA’s 60-70 years of existence, I believe his ascension is what the Orlando Magic are truly missing and beware NBA because it feels like head coach Jamahl Mosley is figuring it out exactly what he has at his disposal in Bol Bol.