3 reasons the Orlando Magic are on the rise, 2 reasons to remain concerned
On the Rise: Internal Growth
So much of the Orlando Magic’s season is betting on internal growth.
They are betting that Paolo Banchero will take what he learned from last season and come back doing all the things he did last year but better and more effectively. They are betting that Franz Wagner will continue to refine and grow his game. They are betting on so many of their young players just getting better.
And in some respects, that is a good bet. Young players who at least show they can contribute in some way typically do get better. And there are a lot of players who have seemingly been on an upward trajectory.
The biggest one is obviously Markelle Fultz. He has struggled to get a healthy season, let alone a healthy offseason, since joining the Magic. And this summer feels like it could be very similar to how he entered the 2021 season.
After his first season with the team, Fultz came out on a blistering pace to average 12.9 points per game and 5.4 assists per game in eight games before tearing his ACL. A year after his return last year after the All-Star Break, Fultz started that ascent again, averaging 15.6 points and 6.0 assists per game while shooting 53.3 percent from the floor and 32.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Fultz showed some real burst and ability to leap too. He played with a ton more energy. If he reduces his turnovers and continues this aggression and downhill attacking, that is the growth the Magic will need at point guard to charge the team a bit more.
There are plenty of other players who could follow a similar pattern — Jalen Suggs shot 36.0 percent from deep after the All-Star Break and Cole Anthony shot 41.8 percent from deep after the All-Star Break.
The Magic are betting on their internal growth to help them grow and develop and climb over the hump. The reality is that, unlike in 2019 and certainly 2020, all these players are still incredibly young. The Magic still have one of the youngest rosters in the league and while certainly stagnation could occur, all of these players are just as likely to get better.