Orlando Magic’s youth revolution is happening in slow motion

Mohamed Bamba is the first Orlando Magic player to publicly say he will donate to support arena and part-time workers during the NBA's hiatus. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Mohamed Bamba is the first Orlando Magic player to publicly say he will donate to support arena and part-time workers during the NBA's hiatus. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic are starting to get younger. Their success in 2021 will depend on young players stepping up. And they will get their chance to succeed.

A constant clarion call on social media when it comes to the Orlando Magic is a call for the team to trust the young players. There is a desire to change over the roster and that inevitably means to a lot of people to get younger — if not, outright tank for a higher draft pick in a loaded 2021 class.

There are plenty of reasons to be frustrated with the Magic’s lack of activity. The team that finished eighth should not be satisfied with that roster. They needed to make moves.

Their seeming inactivity did not suggest that they were choosing one way or another. And certainly, Jonathan Isaac’s injury — an injury to the team’s most prized young player — gives the team cover to hold their spot in the Eastern Conference line, so to speak.

Nobody wants to see the team stand completely still. The Eastern Conference playoff race, even with a play-in tournament on its way, is going to tighten. The Magic will have their work cut out for them to accomplish this goal.

There are still changes occurring for the Magic. It is may not be at the speed some fans want and it may not be as visible. But the Magic are getting younger. The youth revolution many want to happen is occurring in slow motion.

The average age of Orlando’s roster at the time the league went on hiatus last year was 26.1 years old. The team had only two players older than 30 — both are no longer on the team in D.J. Augustin and Josh Magette.

The average age of Orlando’s roster entering this year is 25.8 years old. Unlike last year’s team, the Magic will rely more heavily on younger players too. Mohamed Bamba along with rookies Cole Anthony and Chuma Okeke are expected to be in the rotation next year.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

Orlando has eight players who are 25 years or younger on the roster and all but three — Dwayne Bacon, Jonathan Isaac and Melvin Frazier (who is still listed on the Magic’s roster for the time being) — are expected to play this season.

The difference might be small in the end. This team is still relying on its veteran players — two of the team’s three oldest players will start next year in Nikola Vucevic and James Ennis. But the rest of the roster is still young. Surprisingly young in some places.

Aaron Gordon is seven years into his career, but he is still 25 years old. The Magic might have some sense of what to expect from him, but he still has the potential for growth.

Evan Fournier is entering his prime at 28 years old. His contract status though makes him a prime trade candidate and it seems more likely the Magic use that trade to get even younger. That is what it seemed like the market was bearing this time around.

At the very least, it seems the market was asking the Magic to give up their players for expiring contracts and draft picks. The potential to get younger is still there for the Magic.

The starting lineup for the 2022 season may very well be all players that are on this roster currently. Perhaps the Magic find a replacement for Fournier. But otherwise, the only other changes might well be young players getting promoted into starting roles.

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This is all to say the Magic’s youth revolution has already begun, as slowly as it might be going. The team seems likely without much cap room and money to spend on free agents that this team’s future is already on the roster. That means the goal is for younger players to ascend into these roles.

There are still a ton of different directions the Magic could go as they plan their roster beyond the 2021 season.

But for the time being, the team is starting to trust its young players. It may be a small step, but Orlando is going to be a younger team this year.

And in order for the Magic to be successful this season, they will need those young players to perform and succeed. They will need these players to perform key roles for the Magic’s playoff hopes this year. They are relying on young players in a way and in a volume this team as not done so during Jeff Weltman’s tenure.

For the Magic to make the kind of playoff push they hope for in 2021, they will need Chuma Okeke, Cole Anthony and Mohamed Bamba to make key contributions off the bench. But they will also need strong seasons from Markelle Fultz and Aaron Gordon.

There may not be any top-end talent players to comprise the kind of young core that gets the rest of the league excited. But the Magic have a group of young players who will be expected to contribute and help the team make the playoffs.

And if things go right, the team will likely be more comfortable taking a bigger leap and trusting these young players even more as they start to reshape the roster.

That transition might have been delayed an offseason with the way this year’s trade market set up and the quick turnaround to the start of the season. But the Magic’s youth revolution is beginning.

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The team is getting younger and in some ways will be forced to trust these young players this year to reach their goals.