Orlando Magic Daily Mailbag Volume 42: Preparing for a fun season

Markelle Fultz and the Orlando Magic find themselves squarely in a postseason push and have every reason to keep going for it. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Markelle Fultz and the Orlando Magic find themselves squarely in a postseason push and have every reason to keep going for it. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jalen Suggs, Orlando Magic
Jalen Suggs is quickly emerging as a defensive leader, energizing the Orlando Magic to win more. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /

Orlando Magic Daily Mailbag Vol. 42

Mapping the rotation

"What are your thoughts on who will be the starting 5 and the rotation that he will use -David Erickson on YouTube"

The starting lineup for the Orlando Magic is not super complicated to figure out.

We already know four of the starters — Markelle Fultz, Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero and Wendell Carter. We may have more questions about those players and maybe even how they all fit together after the season and after (hopefully) a playoff series, but that is what this season is for figuring out.

Whenever I am asked this question — and I am asked it a fair amount — the starting lineup the question is really about who should start at shooting guard.

For now, I still like Gary Harris. He brings consistency. He defends well. And he does not need the ball in his hands, so he is not taking shots away from others.

I think the Magic need to find a way to get Harris more shots — he averaged 8.3 points per game and shot 43.1 percent on 4.5 3-point attempts per game. Getting him to five or six 3-point attempts per game would go a long way.

The Magic were fairly successful with him on the floor. But the Magic also had a lot of success with Jalen Suggs in there too.

I think the Magic will have something of an open and continuing competition for that starting shooting guard spot. I think Harris has the edge just because of his veteran know-how and consistency. But Suggs is definitely the higher-upside play and he can certainly earn his place.

"Who will be the starting guards in two years? I’m hyped for AB personally. -creepyypaper, on YouTube"

Of course, I will say this repeatedly and probably still annoy some Orlando Magic fans with it, this season is not entirely about this season. yes, the Magic should have postseason aspirations, but making or missing the playoffs is not the goal for this team.

This team wants to see growth and exit the season knowing clearly who fits and who does not fit this team’s future and which players they need to build around and what skills they still need to fill.

Orlando obviously drafted Anthony Black and Jett Howard, so their futures are seemingly safe for now. As long as they look like they can contribute and keep developing, they have seats reserved for the ascent.

So while I think both Black and Howard have difficult paths to carve out consistent minutes unless they are much more ready than we believe this year (see the next slide), I think both are part of the team’s future.

Predicting who will be on this team in two years though? Even with Jeff Weltman’s predilection for keeping things the same and valuing continuity, I am not sure we can say for sure who will be on this team for the long term.

I want to believe the Magic will retain Markelle Fultz. But that is as much protecting an asset or creating a tradeable player moving forward as it is valuing him as the team’s starting point guard. Whether he is someone the team can build around and use as its point guard is something that will reveal itself in the postseason more than anywhere else.

There are a lot of players we can say that about.

Would Black be someone who steps up into that role if it opens? Perhaps he will in the next two years.

As for the other guard spot. I am on the record as a Gary Harris defender. But I would probably agree that Harris is not on the team past this year and the expiration of his contract. The conditions for this team to make a trade is very present.

But while I like Jalen Suggs a lot, I am not quite there yet to hand him the starting spot. He has to earn it and prove himself. And this year is a pressure-packed one for the young guard.

If there is still any place where the Magic could look to consolidate players and build their starting lineup it is at shooting guard. And while you cannot predict what the trade market will look like, this is where I would suspect the Magic strike (there or center, which is another discussion entirely).