Who is the Orlando Magic’s best individual perimeter defender?

Franz Wagner shined as a versatile defender in his rookie season with the Orlando Magic. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Franz Wagner shined as a versatile defender in his rookie season with the Orlando Magic. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Chuma Okeke, Orlando Magic
Chuma Okeke has established himself as a solid defender in two seasons with the Orlando Magic. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic have made it pretty clear they want their team built on defense.

Just look at the draft history under Jeff Weltman — Jonathan Isaac, Mo Bamba, Chuma Okeke, Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner — all were drafted as plus defenders to give the team a solid defensive base. His coaching hires in Steve Clifford and Jamahl Mosley both have a defensive bend to them too.

Looking at the team last year, the one thing they were at least decent at was their defense. Orlando finished last season 19th overall in defensive rating (112.1 points allowed per 100 possessions) and finished seventh after the All-Star Break (111.2 points allowed per 100 possessions).

That was something to hang their hat on. But something they still have to work and improve on. This will be central to the Magic’s potential success this coming year.

Perceptually, the Magic have good defenders because of all that goodwill from drafting. Orlando feels like it should build a strong defense.

The Orlando Magic are banking on their defense to help the team grow and develop this season. They have plenty of solid perimeter defenders to get themselves started.

Their post defenders feel like they will be good. Wendell Carter was stellar defensively last season. Both Mo Bamba and Wendell Carter were solid giving up 57.0 and 57.4-percent shooting at the rim last year with good rim protection.

It is filling out the rest of the defense that will be the question. Especially as the Magic experiment with different schemes and possibilities. The Orlando Magic switched a lot during Summer League and have the personnel to copy what the Boston Celtics did as they built the top defense in the league last season on their way to the NBA Finals.

Switching defenses work for teams that communicate really well and have versatile defenders. Orlando has loaded its roster with players who can guard multiple positions. The team has put an emphasis on length as a way to close down passing lanes and deter drives to the paint.

Defense is indeed a team game now. There are individually great defenders, but everything exists within a scheme. And modern offenses have forced defenses to focus on rotating and scrambling. Thus the advent of switching to gum up the motion offenses and devolve teams into isolation sets (although even that can backfire if the right player gets the wrong defender on him).

Orlando should be loaded with top-notch help defenders. They have lots of players with great defensive principles and potential. But who is the main stopper? Who is going to be the one to get the call when the game is on the line?

At the end of the day, defense is still a one-on-one battle — especially at the end of games when offenses devolve — and whether a player is going to be able to get a stop.

The Magic have a lot of great defenders, but who is going to be that best perimeter defender? Who is the Magic’s stopper?

There are plenty of options.