Orlando Magic should follow the Toronto Raptors’ young rebuilding model

The Toronto Raptors have done well to develop a group of young players that the Orlando Magic should follow. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
The Toronto Raptors have done well to develop a group of young players that the Orlando Magic should follow. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic have faced many early-season struggles. But coach Jamahl Mosley has his team playing hard night in and night out.

This is still a team that is riddled with injuries, but improvements are being made on both ends of the court. This was evident in their last win against the Denver Nuggets when the Orlando Magic closed the game out by outscoring Denver 61-40 in the second half.

Even though Orlando has a 5-20 record, and currently sits 14th in the Eastern Conference, it feels like the team is right on track in its progression.

The goals Mosley laid out at the beginning of the season are on pace to be reached. From day one, Mosley has preached hard work and not skipping any steps as the team focuses on building a winning team and culture.

It will be important for the Magic front office to evaluate some of the injured players to give them a better idea of what their roles will be going forward with the team. They must also trust the process and allow their young players to play significant minutes which will allow them to learn and grow while simultaneously, taking their lumps.

This is the blueprint set by many teams in the league today, including the Toronto Raptors. The Magic would be wise to adopt this same strategy in their rebuild.

The Orlando Magic are still carving their path for their rebuild in this first year. They have a good model on how to build their youth in the Toronto Raptors among others.

The Toronto Raptors, who are currently 12th in the Eastern Conference as they go through their own retooling after a title in 2019, have set a blueprint in their rebuild the Orlando Magic should adopt.

It is no surprise the team would follow the path Masai Ujiri has cut in building a title team and retooling on the fly. Jeff Weltman served as Masai Ujiri’s general manager in helping build that team into a perennial playoff contender and eventually a champion. We have certainly looked at the Raptors as a rebuild model before.

After winning the title in 2019, the Raptors made several moves to rebuild their roster. Kawhi Leonard and Marc Gasol left after the championship season, and last year they chose not to re-sign their all-time assist leader in Kyle Lowry.

These moves allowed the Raptors to rebuild around their younger, home-grown players in Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby. All three of these players have shown All-Star potential the past couple of seasons. It gives the Raptors a good young core to build around, even if it meant taking a step back to give them the chance to learn how to lead their team.

But nobody believes Toronto will stay down for too long. Especially with the team’s ability to find and grow talent.

The Raptors added to that core by drafting Scottie Barnes in last year’s draft. Barnes has gotten off to a fast start this season, setting up the Raptors to be a formidable team for the next decade in the Eastern Conference.

The process of building a team through the draft does not come easy, but it is important, especially for teams in small markets like Toronto and Orlando. It takes patience, not only from the front office but also from the fan base.

So far, the Magic seem to be adopting the same strategy as the Raptors and that could bring good results. Like Toronto, Orlando has plenty of intriguing young talent, albeit earlier in their careers than the Raptors’ more established group of budding young stars.

Last season’s fire sale, has thus far proved to be the correct move for the Magic.

Trading Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon at the trade deadline allowed Orlando to free some cap space, in addition to getting younger at several positions. The Magic also received draft compensation, including a first-round draft pick which Orlando turned into Franz Wagner, who has been impressive through the first 25 games of the season.

The road will get a little more difficult with Jalen Suggs down with a fractured thumb. The Magic are also waiting for two more young players to return from injury in Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac. The Magic have already invested heavily in those two players.

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Orlando has had the patience to let everyone settle in and find themselves this year before they begin strategically adding or taking away from the roster.

The Magic have had a hard time staying healthy this season but the benefit is other players get more playing time.

With the injury to Suggs, R.J. Hampton now has an opportunity to step his game up. In Orlando’s 126-95 loss to the Warriors, Hampton scored 16 points in 23 minutes. Hampton has seen a huge uptick in his 3-point shooting too, making him not only a valuable player in transition but a potentially strong shooter too. He has already shown flashes of his potential this season but needs to improve his consistency, which is an area most young players struggle with.

Orlando has proven a solid testing ground for these young players. And plenty of Magic players will continue to get opportunities moving forward.

The Magic need to be very cautious with their three young injured players, Markelle Fultz, Jonathan Isaac and now Jalen Suggs. Suggs will avoid surgery so the Magic can give him time to heal properly before returning to the court.

This will allow their other injured guard, Markelle Fultz, to step back in the rotation as he returns to the court in almost a year. In addition to letting these young players get experience, reintegrating injured players like Fultz is one of the big goals for this season.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft is still only 23 years old and showed signs of his potential during his last full season with the Magic.

The Magic will need to decide if Fultz is a part of their future. With the additions of Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs the past two seasons, there might not be enough room for Markelle Fultz. If that is the case, they should allow him significant minutes to showcase his ability to other teams who might be interested in a trade.

For now, more talent is not a bad thing.

Isaac is another key injured player for the Magic, but his situation is different than Fultz. He is locked up for three more seasons, which makes him an important piece for the Magic.

Orlando should be patient with Isaac as he finishes rehabbing his torn ACL and not force anything until he is 100-percent healthy. However, he needs to get back on the court this season to gain some continuity with this new version of the Magic.

The future is still very bright in Orlando and we should know more about the fit of the roster for the next couple of months as Isaac and Fultz return.

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Mosley has a lot to be excited about and he has done a good job thus far of keeping his team engaged and buying into his message. Hopefully, the front office shows patience and allows the team to develop organically, like that of the Toronto Raptors.