3 reasons the Orlando Magic are on the rise, 2 reasons to remain concerned
On The Rise: Paolo Banchero
Why did the Orlando Magic’s rebuild in the wake of Dwight Howard’s departure fail? Bad management choices and poor roster construction and expectations were a big part of it. That is probably why the Magic bottomed out and were one of the worst franchises of the last decade.
The big reason though? The team did not have its star.
At the end of the day, this is a star’s league. And teams need to find players who can carry them through the dark times and find baskets to win games.
And so earning the top pick in the 2022 NBA Draft undoubtedly completely changed the Magic’s fortunes. Getting that pick right in selecting Paolo Banchero has changed the Magic’s outlook and fortunes.
Banchero was the near-unanimous Rookie of the Year last year because he looked like a star. He was the first non-center to score 20.0 points per game for the Magic since Steve Francis in 2005. He is the first Magic player on Team USA since Dwight Howard in 2008 (Jonathan isaac participated with the Select Team in 2018).
Everything this team is building starts with him and his growth. If the Magic have a future, it is because of the belief Banchero just had the worst year of his career during his historic rookie season and that growth in efficiency, defense and rebounding are on the way (Franz Wagner is also part of this as he had some strong growth his sophomore year too).
Banchero is a unique player with his ball-handling and passing at his size at 6-foot-10. The Magic used him in a lot of different ways.
They will likely continue to experiment and expand his game. Part of his growth will be with how much better he gets at attacking defenses and whether he can withstand the pressure defenses are going to throw at him.
Banchero has met every challenge so far. Everyone expects a repeat and improved performance his sophomore year. Whether he can take the leap to true stardom or just continue to hint with that will determine whether the Magic have a truly great season or merely just a good one.