3 Orlando Magic players with short- and long-term questions

Markelle Fultz's numbers may not look impressive but he is making a real impact for the Orlando Magic. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
Markelle Fultz's numbers may not look impressive but he is making a real impact for the Orlando Magic. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jalen Suggs, Orlando Magic, Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Mar 5, 2023; Orlando, Florida, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) defends Orlando Magic guard Jalen Suggs (4) during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports /

3 Orlando Magic players with short- and long-term questions

Jalen Suggs

Short-Term Question: Can Jalen Suggs find his 3-point shot?
Long-Term Question: Is Markelle Fultz the answer at shooting guard?

There was a lot of hype surrounding Jalen Suggs when the Orlando Magic picked him with the fifth pick in the draft. Suggs has struggled to live up to it in a lot of ways.

Still, he has carved his place with the team. Even though Suggs has had to battle injuries throughout the early part of his career, he has established himself as an excellent and disruptive defender. Suggs has a place in the league.

But like with so many players with this Magic team, he clearly has value and a role but will he be with the team when they reach their final form?

More importantly, the question for Suggs is what is his next area for growth? Can he be the player that completes a Magic lineup that has a lot working for it already?

The short-term question for Suggs centers on his shooting. Everyone knows he can be an impactful defender, but his offense has been inconsistent at best. Some of that has to do with the injuries he has faced early in his career.

The numbers though are not all that encouraging. Suggs made only 21.4 percent of his 3-pointers in his rookie year and 32.7 percent last year. The Magic saw a nice uptick in his 19 games after the All-Star Break when he made 36.0 percent of his 3-pointers.

Still, that is not likely to change how defenses approach or attack him. And that is ultimately what matters.

Suggs got a fully healthy offseason as far as anyone knows after spending last summer recovering from ankle surgery. That should give him plenty of time to get better as a shooter.

To be sure, Suggs’ shooting is the quickest key to his development. It is the best way for him to get his spot in the starting lineup, as many fans hope will occur.

The Magic might hope for that to occur too. Gary Harris is a solid shooter but will be a free agent in a crowded backcourt. It feels like Harris’ time is nearing its end with the Magic.

The question is whether the Magic can develop a shooting guard internally or whether this will be a position the Magic look to upgrade via trade.

That temptation is already in front of the Orlando Magic with the Indiana Pacers reportedly shopping Buddy Hield after they were unable to come to an extension agreement. On paper — before dealing with contract and age — Hield seems like a perfect fit for the team with his shooting ability. It is exactly what the Magic need.

Orlando does not appear to be a franchise or organization that would make such a major move right before training camp. They stuck with continuity seemingly deliberately as an organizational choice and philosophy. They are going to give a player like Suggs his chance.

In a lot of ways then, it feels like the starting shooting guard spot is Suggs’ to take. With his talent and potential, he has every capability of being the Magic’s starting guard.

There is even some evidence that the Magic would play well with Suggs in the starting lineup — in 54 minutes, the Magic’s starting lineup had a +11.3 net rating (113.7 offensive rating/102.4 defensive rating) with Suggs in for Harris.

Orlando intentionally is not standing in the way of any players on the current roster. The Magic want these young players to prove themselves. No one may have more to prove than Suggs.