5 things we learned from Orlando Magic’s FIBA World Cup
Moe Wagner and Goga Bitadze will bring it for backup center
There are not seemingly a lot of battles to look forward to when it comes to training camp. Four of the Orlando Magic’s five starting spots are almost assuredly filled.
The shooting guard “battle” is more about a progress check on Jalen Suggs. Otherwise, Gary Harris is more than capable of filling that role and doing his job.
Off the bench, there are a lot of players who also seem pretty locked into their roles.
The biggest mystery perhaps for camp to resolve is who will lock down the backup center minutes behind Wendell Carter. The Magic seemingly have two decent options. And neither Moe Wagner nor Goga Bitadze did much to dispel that notion for their national teams.
Wagner averaged 11.9 points per game and 4.8 rebounds per game for Germany in their run to the gold medal. Bitadze averaged 13.6 points per game and 7.8 rebounds per game in helping Georgia reach the second round in their first World Cup appearance.
Both of them largely came off the bench, although Bitadze played starter’s minutes for Georgia.
That suggests a lot of these numbers could potentially translate well over to their role with the Magic. Both looked impressive throughout their runs.
Wagner was a big boost off the bench in the second and fourth quarters, helping Germany build leads with his energy around the basket. He is an excellent screener and did well to keep players off the offensive boards.
The key for him — as it was for Bitadze and Georgia — was his mobility and ability to stretch the floor. Wagner plays hard and with the potential to shoot threes, which probably makes him more valuable in the much more malleable and flexible NBA.
That does not mean Bitadze is some pushover. Bitadze showed last year that he can be a solid rim protector and paint protector for the Magic. He brought that too for Georgia. And his ability to operate from the high post really helped open up much of Georgia’s offense.
Bitadze was more willing to shoot throughout the tournament than he showed in Orlando. That was always a developing part of his game. But he moves well.
The Magic should feel very confident with whoever ultimately wins that battle. Both played well and should be feeling good heading into training camp.