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Preview 2022/23 | First year of the Banchero era in Orlando

The EuroBasket having just ended, Basket USA is starting its traditional presentation, franchise by franchise, of the upcoming NBA season. Like every year, this one takes the form of a countdown, from the worst record in the league to our favorite for the title of champion.

After the Thunder to open the ball, place now in the Magic. The Orlando franchise was lucky in June, and could speak first in the Draft. The arrival of Paolo Banchero is logically good news but, for the time being, Jamahl Mosley’s team will still have a hard time getting out of the league’s slums. However, the Magic’s 2022/2023 season promises to be interesting and should logically be better than the previous year, which ended with 22 wins and 60 losses.

Internal reinforcements

Because in addition to the presence of the first choice of the Draft, one of the only two reinforcements (with the other rookie Caleb Houston) compared to last season, Orlando should record the return to competition of Jonathan Isaac, who has not not played since his injury in the “bubble”, during the summer of 2020. In addition, Markelle Fultz, who we quickly saw in March and April, will also be in better shape for this season. It is therefore internal reinforcements, plus Paolo Banchero, who will help Jamahl Mosley.

The coach, too, should be more comfortable for his second season on the bench. But his mission is not simple: his team is very, very young, with few players who have the bottle. Gary Harris (who will miss the start of the season due to injury) and Terrence Ross are the only two players to exceed five seasons in the NBA. Isaac and Fultz certainly arrived in the league in 2017, but they only have 136 and 131 matches on the clock…

The group is therefore to be built, especially in attack because last season, the Magic had all the trouble in the world to score points, displaying the worst efficiency in the league on this side of the field.

Hoping that injuries spare his team, Jamahl Mosley will therefore have the mission of creating a coherent and balanced team. Despite the enthusiasm of the youth, there will be breakages, mistakes and missed matches, that’s obvious. But surpassing last season’s total of victories, with a clearly visible game identity and a few blows against big guys on the way, would already be a first success for the Floridians.

SUMMER MOVEMENTS

Arrivals : Paolo Banchero (Draft), Caleb Houston (Draft)
Departures : Robin Lopez (Cavaliers)

PLAYER TO WATCH: Paolo Banchero

How to choose another name? The first choice of the Draft is always or almost the most scrutinized player on his team. Already announced favorite for the title of rookie of the year, Paolo Banchero has also shown himself to his advantage in the Summer League, with 20 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds on average, even if he only played two small meetings in Las Vegas.

A tall winger (2m08), the former Duke is strong and clearly has the talent to take control of the game in Orlando. Moreover, with a decent outside shot for a young player and an interesting vision of the game (he made some nice passes in the summer league), he is not condemned to just penetrating and playing near the circle.

If he will obviously be targeted by the defenses and jostled by players who are more physically mature than him, he has the physical profile to respond and fight. This first year will be one of discovery and learning for Paolo Banchero, who will no doubt soon have the keys to the truck in Orlando.

Average age: 23.6 years old

Payroll: $141.9 million (23rd)

THE IDEAL SCENARIO

Like Evan Mobley or Scottie Barnes last season, Paolo Banchero is already ready to face the best players in the world and to withstand the harshness of the NBA calendar. With his talent, and because the team puts itself at his service, he brings with him a homogeneous group. Jalen Suggs, also absent for a large part of his first year, Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac bring a lot and change the face of the team seen in 2021/22. Without forgetting a Franz Wagner who has gained depth and confidence with the EuroBasket, or a Wendell Carter Jr. who confirms his progress.

It’s sometimes a bit confusing offensively and the defense isn’t always perfect, but this group is having a blast and Jamahl Mosley finds a suitable formula, helped by the fact that his players avoid the infirmary. The young people learn from Gary Harris and Terrence Ross, who make them speak about their experience, and quickly, the milestone of twenty then thirty victories is reached. With sometimes prestigious successes against large cars.

There are certainly no playoffs for the Magic, but the attractive and energetic face of the team was a pleasure to see, much like the Cavaliers in 2021/2022. We then look forward to the 2023/2024 season, especially if the off-season is well negotiated with some weight reinforcements.

WORST SCENARIO

The uncertainties were great before the start of the season and, on the courts, they are transformed into observations. After more than two years without playing, Jonathan Isaac cannot find his feelings. Markelle Fultz and Jalen Suggs are very irregular, when they are not injured again for several weeks.

Not ideal to surround a still tender Paolo Banchero, who does what he can, in the face of physical monsters that bother him. Inevitably, the first choice of the Draft sometimes tries to do too much to compensate and finally, very clumsy and unfair, he disappoints for his first steps in the league. The reconstruction is still falling behind, while Gary Harris and Terrence Ross are losing patience and want to leave the ship by February.

Between the limits of the group, a chronic awkwardness at 3-pts and the injuries which deprive him of his entire workforce, Jamahl Mosley has no solution in stock and the Magic finds themselves in a string of defeats, some of which are very heavy. The coach is even threatened since the team continues to tread water, two years after his arrival on the bench. From the heart of winter, we understand that the leaders are already thinking about the 2023 Draft and the following season, because that of 2022/23 is quickly forgotten.

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EAST CONFERENCE
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