5 Interesting Things About the Orlando Magic Going Into the 2021-22 Season

by Josh Cohen

1. Never have there been this many promising young players on the Magic’s roster at the same time.

By average age, the Magic have the third youngest team going into the 2021-22 season. Only the Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies have younger rosters. Rookies Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner are both 20 as is second-year standout R.J. Hampton. Cole Anthony is 21, Wendell Carter Jr. is 22, and Markelle Fultz, Jonathan Isaac, Chuma Okeke and Mo Bamba are each 23. Only three players on the roster – Robin Lopez (33), E’Twaun Moore (32) and Terrence Ross (30) – are 30 or over.

2. There is a lot of ambiguity about who will start for the Magic on opening night.

Most teams’ starting lineups are set. That’s not the case for the Magic. Jamahl Mosley could go in several different directions. Health is certainly going to play into those decisions as well. One could argue that no starting position is determined yet. With Fultz still working his way back, will it be Anthony or Suggs starting at point guard on opening night? Gary Harris, Hampton, and Ross are expected to vie for the starting shooting guard spot. It’s possible two of them could start if Mosley is confident playing one of them at the three. Either Okeke or Franz Wagner could start at that position as well. Okeke seems like the most logical choice at the four until Isaac is ready to return, although Moe Wagner could be an option as well. Either Carter or Bamba, we assume, will start at center.

3. The eventual returns of Isaac and Fultz is something to look forward to.

It’s been over a year since Isaac was last in action. He tore his ACL in his left knee on Aug. 2 in a seeding game against the Sacramento Kings in the Disney bubble. When asked earlier this month how he’s feeling, the 6-foot-10, 230-pounder said he’s “doing great.” Fultz, meanwhile, tore his left ACL on Jan. 6 of last season in a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Magic will continue to be extra cautious with both of them. But the good news is that both are in excellent spirits and haven’t had any setbacks in their rehab work.

4. The Magic have a ton of flexibility in their corner.

The Magic’s roster is clunky right now. That’s typically what we see with a team in the early stages of a rebuild. Fortunately, though, the Magic have the tools to sharpen up the roster – both during the season and beyond. For one, they have three separate trade exceptions they can use until the 2022 trade deadline. One of them is worth $17.1 million, created when they dealt Evan Fournier to the Boston Celtics. They also netted two future second round draft picks in that trade. Speaking of draft picks, Orlando has a ton of them coming up. Not only do they have each of their own, but they also have several from other teams, including Chicago’s 2023 first rounder and Denver’s 2025 first rounder (light protections on both) and a slew of second rounders, including one from Indiana in 2022.

5. Player development is fun because nobody knows the final results.

For some teams – and the Magic were in this spot the last few years – we kind of know what the endgame looks like and feels like. Unless a championship is possible, it’s just a dead-end street for non-contenders even if there are some high points throughout the season. The beginning of a rebuild is exciting in that the possibilities are limitless. What if Suggs and/or Franz Wagner play at a level in year one that makes us believe they could be future superstars? What if some of the other Magic’s youngsters take a major turn in their individual development? What if Isaac and Fultz pick up where they left off before their injuries? What if the Magic strike a deal at some point during the season or next summer that brings them an established All-Star or someone with All-Star potential? What if any of their future draft selections turn out to move the needle? It’s just exciting not knowing what this chapter of Magic basketball will entail.

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