5 Orlando Magic training camp battles to watch

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Mo Bamba, Orlando Magic
Mo Bamba turnedin a season-best performance against the Cleveland Cavaliers as he believes in what the team is building. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /

Orlando Magic training camp battles to watch

Is the Bamba/Carter pairing done?

The Orlando Magic surprised everyone last year when they ultimately decided to start Wendell Carter and Mo Bamba together.

This seemed to go against the trend in the league to go smaller and use positional versatility on defense. Carter certainly could defend power forwards, but this just felt odd to start two nominal centers together.

Somehow the pairing was not a complete disaster.

For the season, the Magic had a -5.5 net rating with Bamba and Carter on the floor together. That is not the greatest number, but it was better than the team’s overall -8.1 net rating for the season.

It was something the Magic felt comfortable going with. But it still never felt like a long-term solution.

Still, the whole reasoning behind playing Bamba and Carter together was to get the team’s five best players on the court at the same time. Bamba earned his way onto the court with a great preseason. The Magic saw value in him being on the court.

The overall question again is who are the five best players?

Bamba had a career season last year and he should be considered for a starting spot in the end. But it seems certain he is going to go to the bench and no longer be the starter.

The minutes the two played together — 1,013 in total, or 54.7 percent of Carter’s minutes and 55.5 percent of Bamba’s minutes — were quite significant. There are some questions about how either will play without the other even with the thought of playing Paolo Banchero or Jonathan Isaac with them.

That just leaves the big question of whether this is a grouping the team should abandon so quickly. Even if it is just a limited run or dependent on matchups or by committee, Bamba and Carter might still be a pairing worth exploring.

And figuring out how to make that work with this team’s roster crunch is even greater.

Next. Orlando Magic's lineups will be an experiment again. dark

This is what training camp is for, of course. The Magic will have plenty to figure out as the team enters camp and goes through its preseason.