Orlando Magic’s small forwards show promise but remain unproven

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Franz Wagner, Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons
Franz Wagner has had a stellar rookie season. But the Orlando Magic should be looking to see what more he can do. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /

Orlando Magic Small Forward review


Franz Wagner was an excellent passer last year.

He averaged 2.9 assists per game. But his passing goes way beyond that. He averaged 3.4 assists per 36 minutes and 4.6 per 100 possessions. He even had a double-double this year where he had 14 points and 10 assists.

Some of the best small forwards of all time display innate passing abilities. Players like LeBron James, Larry Bird and Julius Erving are some of the greatest passers the game has ever seen and they all played small forward.

Wagner shows similar passing ability with his ability to put the ball on the floor and his size to see over smaller defenders.

Players on the Magic shot 40 percent from the field and 40 percent from three when Wagner drove and kicked it out to them from the paint. The Magic as a whole only shot 35 percent on kick-out passes so he was definitely a bright spot there.

He also began a nice connection with center Wendell Carter.

Carter dunked the ball an outstanding 90 times this season and 38 of those came off Wagner’s passes. That is definitely a connection to look out for in the future.

This may come as a shocker based on this article but once again Wagner was the only small forward producing in the passing category.

Terrence Ross has never really been a playmaker in his career. He averaged 1.8 assists which is pretty good for him. But he is a score-first player. He does a lot of catch-and-shoot shots or takes it to the rim.

If he can learn how to drive and kick, which the Magic struggled with, or be a better pick and roll player than he could contribute in that area.

When Wagner is not on the floor the playmaking versatility on the floor drastically drops, this is another opportunity for Caleb Houstan to earn his spot.

He only averaged 1.4 assists in college but gives so many opportunities for plays to be made.

He draws so much attention from his elite three-point shooting ability that he forces defenders to rotate and close out which could scramble an opposing team’s defense. He also has that lethal pump fake that gets defenders off their feet. This could cause a drive and kick opportunity where the Magic need help, or force a rotation to be made as you can not give Houstan space.

He also may struggle defending the pick and roll, but he excels in running it. He has great vision for a small forward and does a great job finding the roller. He does a great job of squeezing in the tight looks and finding his teammates for good, close to the basket shops.

Look for him to be one of Mo Bamba’s and Wendell Carter’s favorite teammates.

When the roller is not open, he creates great open three-point looks. He has tremendous upside for playmaking with the Magic.