1 question for every Orlando Magic player entering training camp

Cole Anthony is among the many Orlando Magic players who will see a role change and face questions as camp begins. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
Cole Anthony is among the many Orlando Magic players who will see a role change and face questions as camp begins. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mo Bamba, Orlando Magic, Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
Mo Bamba’s free agent future appears to have some more clarity after the Orlando Magic won the No. 1 pick. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports /

1 Question for each Orlando Magic player

In Transition

Not every player on the Orlando Magic seems to have a boundless potential or upside. With so many young players on the roster, there is fighting for playing time and battles to be had for spots in the rotation.

Inevitably, some players will have to take on lesser roles to make room for new players or for the growing and sprouting of talents elsewhere on the roster. This is just reality and part of the competition the Magic claim will make them stronger in the end.

And so there are already some players who will likely move down in the depth chart and have to adjust to new roles this season.

Cole Anthony — Can Cole Anthony thrive in a supporting role?

Cole Anthony is never short on confidence. When asked at Media Day, Anthony proclaimed his goal remains to be an All-Star. He said, and probably rightfully analyzed, he got a taste of the star life in the first quarter of the season last year. But things slowly went wrong from there.

The whole offseason, it has been largely and widely assumed that Cole Anthony would eventually settle in as the team’s sixth man, backing up Markelle Fultz. Maybe that was always an assumption. Anthony, after all, is the incumbent starter (just as Fultz was before his injury). There is at least something to confirm on the court.

Regardless of whether Anthony eventually starts or comes off the bench, his role for this team is going to be different. It almost has to be different for this team to be successful.

Anthony led the team in scoring (16.3 points per game) and field goal attempts per game (14.0 per game). But he shot just 39.1 percent from the floor and 33.8 percent from beyond the arc on 6.0 3-point field goal attempts per game.

The Magic probably do not want him to lead the team in field goal attempts per game. And so Anthony’s big question — and probably the first time he has ever had to ask this question — is how does he work in a more supporting role? Can he work off the ball when he is not the main scorer?

This is why so many believe a Sixth Man role would be perfect for him. It is a scaling down of his current play and against non-starters and bench units more. That could be where he is more successful.

But there is very little proof Anthony could do this at any level. And so it is uncharted territory for him. And he will have to make his adjustments to be effective all over again.

Mo Bamba — Can Mo Bamba be an anchor on his own?

There are a lot of questions for Mo Bamba.

Entering last season, the question for Bamba was simply can he take advantage of playing time? That was something he was not afforded as much under coach Steve Clifford and the playoff expectations the team had. Bamba just was not ready to contribute consistently on a team like that.

He probably always needed an environment where he could grow and make his mistakes. He needed coaching that was focused keenly on his development and his growth.

That is what he got in Jamahl Mosley last year. It turned into a career season where he started 69 games (playing 71) and averaged 10.6 points per game, 8.1 rebounds per game and 1.7 blocks per game. All were career highs. Bamba took advantage of that opportunity and showed some real growth.

But things are changing. And while Bamba slid into the starting lineup last year and earned that spot, things are undoubtedly different now.

The point that I always come back to is that Mo Bamba played nearly two-thirds of his minutes alongside Wendell Carter last year. Carter proved to be a pretty solid backstop for Bamba and his tendency to go for blocks — he recorded a lot of blocks, but teams were not necessarily afraid to attack him.

There are a lot of areas where Bamba needs to continue to improve. His defensive awareness and discipline are at the top of that list. He is already a great offensive weapon as a floor spacer and screener. His task has always been putting those pieces together.

This year, everyone expects Mo Bamba to go to the bench once again with Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner starting at the forward spots. So Bamba needs to own that role. And especially own that role on defense as the team’s defensive anchor for that bench group.

Whether he is able to anchor the team off the bench will determine a lot of where his career might go next.