5 Orlando Magic games we are already looking forward to

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Paolo Banchero, Chet olmgren
Chet Holmgren defends Paolo Banchero on a drive during the Iverson Classic All-American Game at Bartlett High School on Saturday, May 8, 2021.A37i5072 /

5 Orlando Magic games we are already looking forward to

Oklahoma City Thunder

A lot of Orlando Magic fans, let alone NBA fans, were upset with the team’s decision to sit Paolo Banchero for the team’s third Summer League game. Nobody expected Banchero to go the entire distance and play all five games. That would have been a bit too optimistic with how this team operates.

But there was disappointment that he did not get one more game. The NBA set up Summer League to feature all three of the top picks with the Magic opening against the teams that held picks 2, 3 and 4 in the draft.

The Orlando Magic got its battle with third overall pick Jabari Smith Jr. and the Houston Rockets. They got a double-overtime epic with fourth overall pick Keegan Murray and the Sacramento Kings.

Both of those matchups are certainly ones to watch. But the Magic deprived the NBA world of the matchup they really wanted to see: Paolo Banchero against No. 2 overall pick Chet Holmgren.

Holmgren would play through much of the Summer League while Banchero sat. Some cynical fans would say Banchero was ducking Holmgren. It was not true, but the narrative existed.

Never mind that Banchero dropped 21 points and five rebounds in 30 minutes against Gonzaga early last season. There is certainly no fear with Banchero dealing with cramping issues in the second half that limited his playing time.

This is the marquee matchup from this draft class, all due respect to everyone else in the class. It is the big matchup everyone wants to see.

Quietly too, this might be one of the more interesting League Pass games.

Neither the Magic nor the Thunder are expected to be contending teams in the playoff picture. But they are expected to be two of the more fun teams in the league — with a bevvy of young players and interesting prospects that nobody knows how they are going to fit together.

These two teams are peers in many ways. They are going to be on the rise together — maybe the Thunder are a bit ahead with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s development. But this will be one to circle. Perhaps even national TV worthy with the intrigue of Banchero battling Holmgren.