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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Chuma Okeke, Orlando Magic, Charlotte Hornets
Chuma Okeke has established himself as a solid defender for the Orlando Magic this season. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports /

1 Question for each Orlando Magic player

Prospects of Interest

The greatest debates within the Orlando Magic roster this year will be about the use of their young players and how to get the most out of them. But there is only so much time to give and only so much space on the roster.

Not everyone is going to play. There are a lot of young players on the Magic who could be players and could develop into something but are quickly finding themselves pushed down the depth chart and fighting for their roles on the team.

For them, most of all, training camp is going to be important for figuring out their roles.

To be sure with the youth on this roster and the ever-presence of injuries, these players will have their opportunities at some point this season.

Chuma Okeke — Can Okeke diversify his offense again?

There is a lot to like about Chuma Okeke. But like so many of the players on this slide especially, it is going to come down to performance.

Most of the players in this category on the roster have shown flashes and shown potential. But they have not put all the pieces together quite yet. They have not earned a clear spot or a clear role.

Okeke is probably the foremost of these.

Under coach Steve Clifford, he favored him for his defense and he stepped up in big ways on that end. Offensively, though, he moved him around, using him as a cutter and in the post. He moved around and scored in a variety of ways, softening the blow of when his outside shot was not falling.

The way Jamahl Mosley changed his usage was quite shocking. Last year, Okeke took 64.5 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. He almost became exclusively a 3-point shooter, adding in a few timely cuts to the basket for other scores.

Okeke has a more diverse game. Clifford used him at times as a post-up option — he had 0.8 post-up possessions per game at 1.11 points per possession according to NBA.com’s player tracking stats in 2021 compared to 0.2 post-up possessions per game at 0.73 points per possession last year.

Okeke needs to improve as a 3-point shooter. Health and consistency will help with that (he was never quite right after a hip injury in training camp last year). But so would diversifying his attack and taking advantage of all of his versatility.

He has to start off well too. Because his minutes will get a squeeze once Jonathan Isaac is cleared to play.

R.J. Hampton — Can Hampton improve his decision-making?

When coach Jamahl Mosley has talked about the team leveling up, he has meant it on several fronts. That includes his call on the team to be smarter decision-makers elsewhere. That certainly would help limit mistakes but it is a good directive for a young team.

Young teams become better decision-makers as they get more experience and learn from their mistakes. But this kind of skill and growth can make or break a lot of young players.

That is especially for R.J. Hampton. His time with the Magic has been characterized by his speed and athleticism and his inability to direct that constantly in a positive direction. His decision-making has come under fire as much as anyone.

His time in Summer League did not cool any concerns about it either. He was pretty inefficient and did not look like the third-year player volunteering for extra work.

The Magic are still trying to figure out what to do with Hampton. He has a ton of potential that is hard to deny. But by many advanced catch-all metrics, he was one of the absolute worst players in the league.

For Hampton, he has to be smarter and more composed, learning how to use his athleticism (and his improving shooting skill) more effectively. Fans and the team should not feel like they are rolling the dice when they put him in the game.

Bol Bol — Can a center be a guard?

To hear Terrence Ross tell it, Bol Bol was one of the more impressive players at the team’s pickup runs in August and September. He was a player whose size did not matter, he was just dropping threes on everyone.

That is what attracted a lot of people to Bol during his first run with the Denver Nuggets in the bubble and why he was among the top prospects in his draft class until a leg injury derailed his time at Oregon.

Bol is a mystery because he has played so little due to a variety of injuries. It is hard for anyone to get a sense of what he can give the team.

Part of the mystery is that nobody quite knows how to use him. The Nuggets wanted to use him as a small forward and all anyone talks about are his guard skills. That is probably his ticket to playing, creating a matchup nightmare for other bigs. But he would struggle defensively unless he is in the paint, where he is an excellent shot blocker.

The Magic are going to have to find some time to figure out how to use him. But they have the versatility in the front court to allow him to play to his strengths and cover for his weaknesses.

This is a great opportunity.

Caleb Houstan — How quickly can Houstan get his shot going?

Ask Orlando Magic players about how the rookies are integrating and pretty consistently so far they will all talk about Caleb Houstan, and not top overall pick Paolo Banchero (who also gets effusive praise).

To them, Houstan has been one of the hardest workers and a sponge for whatever anyone has said to him as they prepared for the season. That is incredibly strong to hear from players throughout the roster and could suggest Houstan was not just a flyer on a former highly touted recruit in the second round. Houstan very well could be a player.

For now, his best apparent skill is his shooting. That was on display early on in Summer League when he was with the Magic’s main roster players. That was his best skill at Michigan. And if he is going to make his way on the roster — beyond some assignment starts in Lakeland — he will have to do it with his shooting.

This is where Houstan can make his most immediate impact. And where he probably will find his way onto the court early on.