5 questions for the Orlando Magic’s offseason
Can Wendell Carter thrive in a two-big lineup?
The other big revelation for this season for the Orlando Magic came from Wendell Carter.
Carter had a career season, averaging 15.0 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. He was even better later in the season, averaging 19.6 points and 11.6 rebounds per game after the All-Star Break.
It felt like the Magic had a solid backstop defensively and a good modern center for the team to begin building a little more consistently around. Carter feels like a building block piece.
But there was something else to the puzzle. Something that could figure to be important for this team as they rebuild. Wendell Carter played a lot of minutes alongside another center in Mo Bamba. And that backstop very realistically may not be there again next year.
There should at least be some examination of whether Carter can play full-time and alone at center without that big man backstop — even though Carter is a capable one-on-one defender for some of the best centers in the league.
According to Basketball-Reference, Carter played just 37-percent of his minutes at center. He played 1,013 of his 1,852 minutes (54.7-percent) alongside Mo Bamba. He played 66 additional minutes alongside Moe Wagner and 82 minutes with Robin Lopez.
That means Carter played 62.7-percent of his minutes alongside another center.
There are more two-big lineups going around the league. So this is not as abnormal as it might feel. There is a little bit of a shift away from small ball. And Carter’s versatility enables him to switch between the 4 and 5 pretty easily.
But it is still fairly unclear what would happen if Carter were left alone without a center.
The draft may resolve some of these problems. Chet Holmgren has gotten instant comparisons to Mo Bamba for his size, shot-blocking ability and lack of frame. There is something to saying this whole season was a dry run for seeing if a Carter-Holmgren pairing could work.
The other two top guys in this draft are power forwards in Jabari Smith and Paolo Banchero. But they are not like the center that was a backstop for Carter.
Carter is very good. And this whole conversation is a sign the Magic should be thinking of ways to get the most out of Carter.