The Orlando Magic have clear skill needs but they will also have plenty of positional needs, especially after the injury to Jonathan Isaac.
Back during the hiatus for the pandemic, we started to ponder what the depth chart for the Orlando Magic might look like. It was a tool to begin examining where this team needed to make adjustments and where it would look to improve.
Of course, that operated under several assumptions.
Assumptions like the Orlando Magic would pick up somewhere close to where they left off and secure the 7-seed. Or like Jonathan Isaac would be healthy and available.
President of basketball operations Jeff Weltman should have had much of his offseason plan figured out before the team entered the Disney campus. There was likely little the Magic could do outside of a wild playoff run to change any conclusions he might have had.
Indeed, Weltman acknowledged in a press availability after the season ended that his management group has already tiered their draft board as they prepare for a NBA Draft delayed at least four months by the coronavirus.
The Isaac injury though will change at least part of the calculus. The Magic’s most promising young prospect will miss the entire 2021 season, barring significant delay.
The Magic are going to have to spend this offseason trying to figure out how to move forward with him in their back pocket. And again, they will be down a key player at power forward.
This is a team that has made back-to-back playoffs now. As low a bar as that might sound, that is still a fact. The team has something it can work with and a baseline expectation to get back there. If there is one thing Jeff Weltman and Steve Clifford have accomplished it is changing those basic expectations for the organization.
But undoubtedly this is an important offseason even with the injuries. The Magic have seemingly reached their ceiling and they have to find a way to improve and get better.
So again, the depth chart is the perfect place to start in assessing the Magic’s ultimate needs.
|M. Fultz||E. Fournier (PO)||J. Isaac (I)||A. Gordon||N. Vucevic|
|D.J. Augustin (FA)||T. Ross||J. Ennis (PO)||A. Aminu||M. Bamba|
|M. Carter-Williams (FA)||W. Iwundu (RFA)||C. Okeke||G. Clark (QO)||K. Birch|
|M. Frazier (TO)|
The team currently has nine players on the roster (including Chuma Okeke) before player options. If Evan Fournier and James Ennis both opt-in and the Magic take a draft pick, that brings the roster to 12 players.
Orlando would still have a few roster spots to spend to add new players. And there are clear needs on the roster the Magic will have to address immediately. Isaac’s injury certainly puts a lot of stress on the formerly strong forward position.
When we analyzed the Magic’s depth chart back in April, we identified backup point guard as a major area the Magic needed to spend free agency addressing.
The NBA Draft seemed like a ripe ground to find a backup point guard to fill in whoever the Magic do not bring back. Players like Kira Lewis, Tyrese Maxey, Theo Maledon or Cole Anthony could fit this role — especially with Clifford’s tendency to play two ball handlers at the same time.
Potential free agents they could target might include Langston Galloway, Austin Rivers, Justin Holiday, E’Twaun Moore, Yogi Ferrell, Bryn Forbes or Shabazz. Some of those players are true point guards, but they work well as secondary ball handlers.
It seems unlikely that both Augustin and Carter-Williams will be back next season. Especially with everything else they have to acquire. But it is possible the Magic focus on their own players not seeing better options in free agency at their price level.
The Isaac injury has changed a lot of that calculus, however.
Suddenly the Magic seem to have access to some quality power forwards, but that leaves them short with scoring and slashing wing players.
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Chuma Okeke projects as a similarly versatile tweener similar to Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac and Al-Farouq Aminu. The Magic certainly will look to play one at small forward. But that also makes this position a bit ripe for a trade to fill in other parts of the roster.
The Magic need shooting. That was the most obvious and glaring deficit the team faced. Sticking with Gordon (30.8-percent), Aminu (25.0-percent) and Ennis (28.6-percent) as small forwards or some combination of two for the two forward spots will leave the Magic exposed on the perimeter once again. Isaac was not much better this season, shooting 34.0 percent on 3-pointers.
Okeke might provide some relief as a 3-point shooter, having made 38.7-percent of his 3-pointers (and 72.2-percent from the foul line) in 2019 with Auburn.
But it is clear the Magic need some 3-point shooting and they probably want to find it at the small forward or “wing” position. This could be another area the Magic attack through the Draft if Devin Vassel or Aaron Nesmith fall to them or a guy like Saddiq Bey.
In the free-agent class, the Magic could target Alec Burks or Gary Payton II. There are at least a few players the Magic could look at in both free agency and the draft.
Ultimately, the Magic have a clear skill deficit in shooting that they need to fill. It is something the team has neglected as it tries to build a defensive base. And in a second straight postseason, the lack of floor spacing cost the team any chance for a sustained victory.
The team though will have clear positional needs to address. The Magic have to shore up their point guard depth behind Markelle Fultz. But they also have to find a way to supplement the loss of Jonathan Isaac.
The team’s wing depth, especially with small forwards, has taken a major hit Isaac out. The team was already struggling with its depth there.
For sure, the biggest need the Magic will have to address is finding a way to balance out its roster some and adding quality players to give the team some depth.
The Magic may not be able to do this through the draft and free agency alone.