The Orlando Magic are finally receiving reinforcements as they are getting healthier. And they will only make the Magic a better team.
Monday’s victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers is an insight into what the Orlando Magic can be when the team is dialed in. Of course, it was not a perfect game because it took outlier games from a player such as Aaron Gordon hitting six for nine threes. The Magic relied heavily on offensive rebounds to boost an offense that still struggled to shoot.
But the formula is there for Orlando to play a sustainable way.
The best way to be able to play consistently and in a sustainable way will be to get healthy. And Orlando has help on its way.
While Michael Carter-Williams has been listed out for the Wednesday game against the Cavaliers, the Magic will have the possibility of getting three players back very soon.
Evan Fournier has been listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game with back spasms. His return is simply about waiting for the injury to heal. But he could return at any point that he feels good — the Magic might be extra cautious with injuries this year with the condensed and rushed schedule.
But both Mohamed Bamba and James Ennis have been taken off the injury report. Mohamed Bamba has been in uniform and on the active roster for a while now. Bamba made his season debut in Monday’s win, playing the final four minutes collecting two rebounds and blocking a shot.
James Ennis was officially taken off the injury report ahead of Wednesday’s game, opening the door for his return. He said a few days ago he felt 100-percent, he just needed to rebuild his conditioning to get through a NBA game.
Orlando will soon have the possibility of adding new dimensions that could allow Orlando’s play to improve on both ends of the floor.
To begin with, Evan Fournier has proven this season that Orlando needs his spacing and scoring ability. Fournier has adjusted to his new role of playing off the ball, and it has allowed Orlando to play at a faster pace with the ball in Markelle Fultz’s hands more.
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Fournier is averaging 14.8 points per game on 51.1-percent shooting and 34.8-percent from beyond the arc. The Magic have a 113.7 offensive rating with Fournier on the floor, five points per 100 possessions better than the team’s average and the best mark of any player on the team.
Evan Fournier’s spacing has created more room for Markelle Fultz and Nikola Vucevic to score in the paint. It was also in the two losses against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Philadelphia 76ers that Fournier’s presence was missed drastically.
Another addition, potentially to the starting lineup is Ennis. While Ennis does not bring the offensive effect that Fournier brings, his defensive and intensity additions go beyond the stat sheet.
The Magic’s starting lineup has struggled defensively, as they have a 124.8 defensive rating in 54 minutes on the floor together. While it is a small sample size, it can also be seen with the eye test that Orlando does not open games well on the defensive end of the floor.
Ennis brings intensity on the defensive end that Magic seems to be missing. That is going to be a tough decision for Steve Clifford to make with Dwyane Bacon playing well as of late.
Bamba made his season debut in the fourth quarter against the Cavaliers. He would give the bench unit a new dimension on both ends. Whether to play Mohamed Bamba or Khem Birch is going to be a tough decision with Birch playing well to start the season.
On offense, Bamba would provide a shooting element that is missing off the bench except for Terrence Ross. While Cole Anthony has the potential to be a good shooter, he is struggling to shoot from three as he is shooting-23.5 percent.
With Chuma Okeke to miss several weeks with his bone bruise, Michael Carter-Williams and Khem Birch do not provide a 3-point shooting threat for opposing defenses.
Then on defense, while Birch has done a good job of protecting the paint, he is not a shot blocker. Certainly not at the rate Bamba was at last year.
As time has gone, Bamba has gotten more comfortable on positioning defensively, he has always been a good shot-blocker as he has averaged 1.4 blockers per game last season and 3.5 blocks per 36 minutes a game.
In the end, these are going to be tough coaching decisions that Steve Clifford is going to make. However, Orlando has to find a way to play a sustainable style of basketball. These decisions are meant to be tough and good ones to have between quality players who have proven they can contribute to a playoff team.
The Magic are finally receiving reinforcements as they are getting healthier, and they will only make the Magic a better team.