Orlando Magic falling short of postseason but ceiling is sky high

Paolo Banchero's emergence as a rookie of the year has boosted the Orlando Magic this year and set the table for a strong future. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Paolo Banchero's emergence as a rookie of the year has boosted the Orlando Magic this year and set the table for a strong future. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic are on the rise.

Right now the team sits at 13th in the Eastern Conference with a 29-43 overall record.  At this point last year the team was fighting to win 20 games.

That is enough sign of the tremendous progress the team has made.

That is a difference between about 10 more wins this year and if that increase continues next year, the Magic should end their season as a .500 team. Considering the team has recovered from a 5-20 start to go 24-23, the team may already be a .500 team.

And it is plausible to believe young players like Paolo Banchero, Jalen Suggs, Wendell Carter, Franz Wagner and Markelle Fultz will continue to get better. Hopefully, these players are labeled untouchable when it comes to future trades as the team explores ways to improve.

That does not even get into the potential of adding two Lottery picks in the upcoming NBA Draft and the potential to be players in free agency this summer.

That path is abundantly clear though. And that is the larger point as the Magic move on from the rebuilding phase.

The Orlando Magic have increased their win total from last season and are developing rapidly. The season is coming to an end but the future is bright.

The team has made their strides to become a better overall squad this year though, with quality wins against the LA Clippers, Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and the Dallas Mavericks.

The most significant win was against the Boston Celtics, with back-to-back road wins in December as the team started to find its spark. The Celtics are considered among the favorites to win the Eastern Conference this year. But the Magic can also count wins against other contenders like the Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets .

All of those wins this year were against Playoff teams who will be lacing them up in the near future to compete for a title. The Magic will most likely miss the Play-In Tournament this year but by being in the race this long served notice of what their future can be.

But this season should leave a bad taste in the mouths of the members of this roster because they have found their core of role players but have not developed any of those young guys into a star player quite yet.

That development is still to come and the team has had to take some hard lessons in the process.

Paolo Banchero is putting up historical numbers as a rookie but he still has a long way to go to reach the consistent pressure and attention that comes with stars. At this point, he is still learning and making his mark in the league.

Regardless of the lack of star power on the roster, the Magic still have players on the team that can score buckets. This team is ready to take the next step and become a top-eight team in 2024.

The Magic currently have five players who average double digits when it comes to scoring the basketball. Paolo Banchero averages 20.0 points per game, Franz Wagner 18.7 points per game, Markelle Fultz 14.0 points per game, Wendell Carter averages 15.6 points per game and Cole Anthony averages 12.6 points per game.

The team has a high ceiling. Now that they can rely on several young players to contribute offensively, it makes game planning a little easier for coach Jamahl Mosely.

The team has had similar matches of young talent. Those teams with Nikola Vuceivc, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier anchoring them were able to get into the postseason and steal a game. But this feels different with the seemingly endless possibilities that Banchero and Wagner give them. It feels like the Magic have players who are on track to be future stars in this league.

This roster has players on it with a greater upside and should be able to win more than one game in a Playoff series. Especially with the leader being an all-around player like Banchero compared to a one-trick pony like Vucevic. The Magic ceiling has taken a step in the right direction with a supporting cast of players like Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner and Wendell Carter.

It is a bit discouraging to see the Magic fall short of the postseason and not lose ground as the season comes to a close. There is still a lot to learn in the final 10 games as the Magic look to finish the season strong.

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But the team has the recipe for greatness as long as they allow these young guys to develop and continue the course. The process has begun, and the future is bright in Orlando.