1 advantage the Orlando Magic have over every Southeast Division team
Washington Wizards: Depth
The Washington Wizards began a rebuild when they finally opted to trade Bradley Beal. They positioned themselves to still look interesting heading into the year by acquiring Jordan Poole in a trade involving Chris Paul and re-signing Kyle Kuzma.
But this is a very different team than what the league saw last year. So the Orlando Magic’s split with the Washington Wizards — especially their struggle with the now-traded Kristaps Porzingis — seems moot to discuss.
This Wizards team still has some weapons at the top end that should concern most teams. Poole has proven himself as a bursty scorer on a big stage, although he has never done it as the main player on a winning team. Kuzma is also a capable scorer.
But the reason why Washington is universally predicted to finish last in the Southeast Division is because it does not feel like there is much more to offer.
They drafted the raw Bilal Coulibaly with their Lottery selection. He probably will not make an immediate contribution. They have a lot of questions about another Lottery pick they made in Deni Avdija.
Tyus Jones has certainly earned a shot at being a starting point guard. But he is very unproven. And the bench is filled with young players who have proven far less.
If there is a difference for this Magic team this year over previous years, it is that the Magic feel pretty good about their depth and the ability for their bench to fill in.
Cole Anthony may end up being a dark horse Sixth Man of the Year candidate. Jalen Suggs and Jonathan Isaac should give the team a huge defensive boost. Moe Wagner and Joe Ingles provide a solid veteran foundation. And that does not even get into rookies Anthony Black and Jett Howard. Or the fact the Magic often run Franz Wagner with their bench unit.
Orlando last year had a very strong bench. They averaged 36.8 bench points per game, 11th in the league. The team’s depth last year was actually one of its strengths by the end of the year (certainly early in the season that depth got tested to its breaking point).
The Wizards lack this kind of quality depth this year. That is why they are likely to finish at the bottom of the standings despite some intriguing talent in their starting lineup. And Orlando is going to find itself relying on its bench a lot to buoy the young roster trying to find itself this year.