In the NBA, you can typically figure out which teams will compete for the championship, which players will be good, and which matchups to circle on your calendar.
Even with all of the movement that happens in free agency, a part of the NBA seems fairly predictable.
But while that may seem like the case — and certainly it is to an extent — there is a healthy dose of surprises every year. The league is about the journey more than the destination and there are always pleasant surprises along the way.
Every season presents surprises. The Orlando Magic are a team that could be full of them as this young team brings everyone back and tries to take that important step toward winning.
Last year, for example, the NBA presented plenty of eyebrow-raising storylines.
The championship favorites, Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers, did not win a single playoff game. The Lakers did not even make the Playoffs at all. DeMar DeRozan was in the MVP race at one point after signing with the Chicago Bulls. And the Boston Celtics transformed into a championship-level team in January.
When you look at it, every team had surprises last year, including the Orlando Magic. They saw Wendell Carter blossom into their best player last year.
So looking forward to next year now that Summer League has concluded, who can be the surprise player for Magic, just as Carter was?
Well there are some things to consider. Part of it comes down to opportunity and how they played last season under coach Jamahl Mosley.
Carter had played well in the second part of the 2021 season after he was traded from the Bulls and Mosley gave him an even bigger role last season.
But while those factors help when it comes to predicting a player’s future, it really comes down to how much work they have put in and whether they fit in with the players already established.
Now some things to consider for this list.
Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner and Wendell Carter may surprise with how well they play but they already have expectations, so they were not considered. Those three appear to be the Magic’s main trio that they are at least nominally building around.
While it would be a welcome sight for any of those players to take over as a true “number 1”, it does not feel like they belong on a list like this.
And some of the young guys like Caleb Houstan and R.J. Hampton were not included because of lack of opportunity. While they may surprise it will be in limited time, so they will not be on the list either.
Now that leaves the rest.