5 free agents the Orlando Magic could target
Backup Center: Dwight Powell, Dallas Mavericks
The Magic could very easily roll things back with Goga Bitadze and Moe Wagner (Bitadze has a team option the Magic have to decide on by June 30 and Wagner is an unrestricted free agent), but this is an area of need that seemingly could use a clear upgrade.
It is more urgent because Wendell Carter has never played more than 62 games in any season of his career. The Magic, if they are going to be serious about making a postseason push, need to have a starter-quality center to support their team.
That could be the place where the Magic are willing to overspend. Then again, they might not need to. There are a few options that could make sense. Although none of them are going to immediately inspire a ton of confidence or shake the foundations for the team.
What Orlando needs is dependability and reliability from the spot. And there are a few centers who will largely stay out of the way, play within themselves and contribute to the team in whatever role the team needs.
The player to start with is Dallas Mavericks center Dwight Powell, someone coach Jamahl Mosley will certainly be very familiar with.
Powell’s averages are nothing to look too hard at. He averaged only 6.7 points per game and 4.1 rebounds per game in 76 appearances and 64 starts last year. The Mavericks had a 119.4 offensive rating and 113.2 defensive rating with Powell on the floor, both better than the team’s overall averages.
That is a sign as much as anything of how Powell just does the little things to make a team better that do not show up on a box score.
He led the Mavericks with 3.0 screen assists per game (Wendell Carter led the Magic with 3.8 per game last year) and the Mavericks scored 1.47 points per possession when Powell was the roll man in pick and rolls.
His offensive game though will be very limited to putbacks and lobs at the basket. And he is not particularly adept at that.
His defensive impact can also be hit or miss although he is a solid rim protector — opponents shot 2.5 percentage points worse at the rim than expected against Powell and he saved 0.41 points at the rim per 75 possessions (putting him in the 94th percentile) according to Basketball-Index.
Powell is an excellent offensive rebounder and will scavenge for opportunities around the basket. But he does not rate as a good defensive rebounder and that is a noted weakness for the team. Maybe some of that has to be from covering for the Mavericks’ sketch perimeter defense last year.
No one should be clamoring for Powell as a big-money signing — he is coming off a three-year, $33-million extension that paid him $11.1 million in its final year and he is 31 years old. But Powell just does a lot of the things that fill gaps.
If the Magic are looking for a veteran center to fill those backup minutes, they could do a lot worse than Powell. And his familiarity with Mosley might help reinforce messaging and get quick buy-in and comfort.
If Powell gets priced out of the Magic’s range, they could look at other big men like Mason Plumlee, Alex Len or Andre Drummond. They could go after a switchy center like Trey Lyles too.
Or they could chase after younger options like restricted free agent Jaxson Hayes or think big and go after a scorer like Christian Wood. Or they could look to give an end-of-the-bench player a major opportunity by signing Drew Eubanks, Neemias Queta or Chimezie Metu.