5 things we learned from Orlando Magic Summer League
Orlando Magic need size to succeed
The Orlando Magic’s roster had a deficiency from the moment it stepped onto the court. There was not enough size.
Robert Baker and Kai Sotto were the only true centers on the roster. D.J. Wilson could play center but was better suited to play power forward.
No other player on the roster was taller than 6-foot-8. That is how Caleb Houstan ended up playing a ton of minutes at power forward and how the Magic got overpowered consistently on the interior.
If there is another reason not to take Summer League as gospel it is this. The Magic are known for having playmaking 6-foot-10 forwards. Orlando used jumbo lineups last year that had Franz Wagner playing shooting guard. And that is a lineup the Magic may try again.
That is to say, this Summer League team is the opposite of the regular season roster.
Still, it did seem like the Magic were testing a proof of concept a bit.
While Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero are tall, they are not necessarily big. Neither player is a great rebounder — Wagner averaged 4.1 rebounds per game and Banchero averaged 6.9 rebounds per game. Wendell Carter led the team with 8.7 rebounds per game.
While the Magic were solid with a defensive rebound rate of 73.0 percent (eighth in the league). There was still a sense the Magic were not the strongest rebounding team. They are going to need to find some size to make up for this seeming deficiency.
In a weird way then, what this Summer League roster provided was a brief glimpse of what it looks like if the Magic try to surround one big man with versatility. The group may not have size, but it did look a bit like the Magic’s roster (even if Wilson is not quite the rebounder that Carter is).
They saw that if their guards rebound well, they can hang tough. But overall, the Magic’s rebounding was a struggle. Orlando needs size and the team needs Banchero especially to be a better rebounder and tougher interior presence to succeed.
Either that or Carter has to become a dominant interior force to make up for the deficiencies and perimeter versatility. Or perhaps the team needs to ensure that it is focused on gang rebounding with its guards if it is going to play this small.
There was some proof of concept. Black on several occasions got a rebound and immediately turned up the floor or hit a long outlet pass to ignite a break. That is something they could easily replicate with Markelle Fultz or the other slashers the Magic have who can run the middle of the floor.
Still, something was missing from this team. And if this was indeed trying to get a look at the Magic’s formula in some way, there have to be some lingering concerns about how it will ultimately translate in October.