2023 Orlando Magic Offseason Needs: Rim Protection
Why does this offseason feel like a ripe time to address this need or seek out a way to soften this weakness? It is because both of the Orlando Magic’s reserve backup options are due to become free agents.
Moe Wagner’s contract is non-guaranteed for this season and Goga Bitadze has a team option for this year. Magic fans will know by June 30, the deadline to guarantee Wagner’s contract or pick up Bitadze’s option, whether the Magic will retain either of these players.
It is largely expected at this point that the Magic will retain Wagner and likely let Bitadze walk into free agency.
From a pure rim-protecting perspective, this is perhaps the wrong choice — although Wagner certainly provides more consistent offense.
Wagner had the worst mark of defending the rim of any center who played at least 50 games according to data from Second Spectrum. Opponents shot 75.5 percent at the rim against Wagner. The best center in the league at this was Jaren Jackson Jr. at 46.9 percent and Wendell Carter sat at 64.0 percent and Goga Bitadze was the 11th-best center at 53.8 percent.
You can see why this is a bit of a need, even if the Magic do prevent opponents from getting a ton of these kinds of shots and defensive challenges.
There is always the chance the Magic run both of these centers back and spend their free agent resources elsewhere. This is not a particularly deep free agency class for big men or rim protectors.
Then again, I have highlighted the need for a high-level backup center because Wendell Carter has never played more than 62 games in any season. It feels like the Magic need to find a center they feel comfortable starting 15-20 games every season that Carter is in place.
That player is probably not Wagner. And that is why highlighting this is important today. Especially if the Magic really do have postseason ambitions.