Orlando Magic Question: Would you rather trade or start Cole Anthony?

Cole Anthony and Admiral Schofield of the Orlando Magic react after a basket (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Cole Anthony and Admiral Schofield of the Orlando Magic react after a basket (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic are currently riding a two-game winning streak, and all of a sudden all does not seem so bleak around the Amway Center. Getting some players back healthy has helped in this regard, with point guard Cole Anthony looking especially lively in the recent win over the Toronto Raptors.

His energy and play off the bench was pivotal in staving off the Raptors to pick up another win.

There are plenty of tough games to come before Christmas. And the Magic are still way off the playoff pace. But the wins have given everybody a needed boost.

But the return of healthy players is going to bring with it some key questions about the rotation. And as always, the Magic are thinking about the big picture and what this team will look like in the future.

Not all of these young players have a future with the team. That evaluation is part of what this season is about.

Ahead of another matchup with the Toronto Raptors we have to ask: If you were the Orlando Magic’s GM, would you rather trade or start Cole Anthony?

To be clear, there is no middle ground here. And why should there be? Anthony has come to personify all that is good about this group when they are firing on all cylinders.

He has a bit of bite to him, plays with energy and enthusiasm and most importantly of all, appears to be getting better the longer he is in the league.

But to do this would be extremely tough on current starting point guard Markelle Fultz. A player who, when he has not been injured, has been everything the Magic have needed him to be.

He beat his shooting woes, and plays with a pace and vision that nobody else on the roster can come close to.

But is Fultz the right player to lead them forward as their floor general? He is now 24 years old, and his pedestrian career averages of 10.2 points and 4.7 assists per game have never been given the opportunity to grow significantly because of his bad injury luck.

Shooting 55.6 percent from deep is ridiculous, but Fultz is a career 27.6 percent shooter from that area. He is 5-for-9 from 3-point range so far, and that number is going to come back down to earth before long.

To see an improvement here has been nice though, and Fultz is the better defender of the two right now.

Fultz has only ever started 77 games for the Magic, and played 104 in four seasons in Florida. Anthony has already played more (122 games) and started more (102 games) than Fultz, and has done so with better career averages of 14.8 points and 4.9 assists.

You would be forgiven for not realizing this, as Anthony built up those numbers at a time when the Magic were really bad and Fultz tore his ACL just six games into Anthony’s career. But in that limited run so far Anthony has proven to be more durable than Fultz, capable of putting up better basic numbers and as already mentioned is their tone-setter as well.

Obviously, Anthony has not shown any desire to be traded so as to get more game time elsewhere. He has not even signed his second deal in the league yet.

But with Jalen Suggs having a much better sophomore outing (he is also currently injured), the question of who starts is going to heat up soon.

It is somewhat reminiscent of the Phoenix Suns, who tried to have a three-pronged guard attack with Eric Bledsoe (whose tenure ended with that famous “I don’t want to be here” tweet), Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas. It did not work, and all three were better off elsewhere and not as a trio.

There were clearly some personality clashes there. And the NBA was not as flexible with its positionless play and its desire to have multiple ball handlers on the floor. This league is different and those players are different. They all seem eager to play with and support each other.

We have not reached that point with Fultz, Anthony and Suggs yet, but what happens if we do? At a certain point, the Magic will not have enough minutes for all three.

Suggs is sure to be given longer to prove he can be a part of the long-term future with the Magic. Already he is showing he has a lot more potential than we saw in his rookie year.

If the decision then comes down to Fultz and Anthony, who would you go with? Anthony has put up better numbers, played more games already and is the healthier of the two. He was also drafted by this front office, whereas Fultz was picked up in one of the best trades in recent years.

Then again, Fultz has playoff experience and is a holdover from the previous era. One that was competitive and trying to win, which has real value when trying to show a young team the ropes.

Fultz is also the better passer and more calming presence on the court. You would hate to give up on him now. Right when it seems like he could turn a corner and take a leap if he can just stay healthy.

Next. 3 players ready for a bigger role with the Orlando Magic. dark

This is a really tough decision, and thankfully not one that needs to be made soon. But with how impactful Anthony has looked in limited time since his return, it is a question we will return to. When that time comes, what side are you going to be on, trade or start?