2022-23 Kia Season Preview

2022-23 Season Preview: Orlando Magic

Can No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero lead a gradual climb for Orlando in 2022-23 and set the tone for the franchise's future?

Expectations are high for Orlando’s No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero in 2022-23.

The gradual climb to respectability continues for the Magic as they stockpile young assets to groom through their player development with hopes that, someday soon, a contending nucleus will form. But the question remains: when will this franchise take that generous leap forward, this season or next?

And another question: Who will lead them? The Magic pondered this very carefully when deciding whom to select with the No. 1 overall choice in the 2022 draft, and therefore Paolo Banchero is the chosen one. Orlando desperately needs a cornerstone and a perennial All-Star and Banchero brings the ingredients as a flexible and multi-skilled power forward who can handle the ball and, perhaps, the weight on his shoulders as well.

But obviously, this goes beyond one player. The Magic are depending on Cole Anthony, Wendell Carter Jr., Franz Wagner, Jalen Suggs, Markelle Fultz, Mo Bamba and (once healthy) Jonathan Isaac to further their basketball education and form a winner. It’s a tantalizing group on paper; let’s see what they do on the floor.


How will Orlando handle the front-court log jam? Aside from Banchero, there’s Wagner, Bamba, Carter and also Issac, the forgotten man who’s making a return from injury after missing roughly the last two seasons. You can make a case for any of the above to start and get heavy minutes. Plus, there’s also Mortiz Wagner and Bol Bol looking to collect whatever scraps are available. This isn’t a bad situation; on the contrary, the competition will allow the Magic to see who’s worth keeping and who’s trade bait.


A good model for the Magic to follow is Memphis; the Grizzlies made a gradual climb for a few years and then soared last season when Ja Morant took a star turn. This could happen in Orlando with Banchero, but this process takes time. Until they find the right chemistry and mix, the Magic could start slow yet finish fast by springtime, lending hope for the following season. Wins are important but realistically, the Magic need to see additional growth from Suggs, Wagner and a Rookie of the Year performance from Banchero. That would stamp the season a success. Projection: Draft Lottery.


103.2 — The Magic’s most-used lineup — Anthony, Suggs, Franz Wagner, Carter and Bamba — allowed just 103.2 points per 100 possessions, the sixth best mark among 27 lineups that played at least 200 minutes last season.

— John Schuhmann


Markelle Fultz: Held to 18 games last season because of yet another injury, Fultz is the steadiest of guards whenever healthy, although he might be mentioned as bait by the trade deadline.

Jalen Suggs: After a so-so start to his rookie season that wasn’t helped by a thumb injury, Suggs established a bit of consistency and dropped hints of a good future.

Paolo Banchero: He could be the franchise savior because he checks plenty of boxes and will undoubtedly be thrown into the fire right away.

Franz Wagner: Smooth and fundamentally sound, Wagner had a robust rookie season (15.2 points per game, 4.5 rebounds per game) and brings all-around ability.

Wendell Carter Jr.: A very good (if undersized) center who has made consistency his trademark. He collects double-doubles, but isn’t a primary option offensively.


Jonathan Issac: Orlando gave him a big extension right before the injuries mounted and he had a chance to establish himself in the league, but he brings defense and skills.

Cole Anthony: A feisty and energetic point guard who prospered when Fultz dealt with injuries. How will he adapt if he’s back to coming off the bench?

Terrence Ross: Veteran shooter is facing the downslope of his career and is no longer the go-to option when Orlando needs a big bucket.


How the Magic have fared stats-wise over the last 5 seasons …

Last 5 seasons

Season W L PCT OffRtg Rank DefRtg Rank NetRtg Rank Playoffs
2021-22 22 60 0.268 103.9 29 112.1 19 -8.1 28
2020-21 21 51 0.292 104.6 29 113.9 26 -9.3 29
2019-20 33 40 0.452 107.9 23 109.2 11 -1.3 19 X
2018-19 42 40 0.512 108.2 22 107.6 8 +0.6 14 X
2017-18 25 57 0.305 104.7 25 109.4 20 -4.7 25

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

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Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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