5 lineups the Orlando Magic can use to take advantage of length, versatility
The Three Forwards
Probably the most important thing Orlando Magic fans are looking forward to seeing this year is the team unveiling their lineup of three power forwards all in the same lineup.
Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner have already proven to be a difficult pairing with their ability to handle the ball at 6-foot-10. Orlando has certainly been willing to use them as ball handlers and primary attackers. Defenses already have a difficult time matching up with them.
A big part of last season was testing out how these two young forwards would play together. According to NBA.com, the duo played 1,595 minutes together with a net rating of +0.0 (112.0/112.1 split). That accounted for 61.1 percent of Wagner’s minutes and 65.6 percent of Banchero’s minutes.
There is little indication the Magic will use the duo any less this year. Orlando wants to maximize their time on the court together. And while they broke even for the year, after Dec. 7, the Magic had a +2.0 net rating with the two on the floor (113.6/111.6).
Something clearly works with that young duo. And a good chunk of this upcoming season is going to be spent figuring out exactly what that duo needs to be successful.
And that includes experimenting with how to use the two forwards. And that is where the three-forward alignment comes in.
The Magic got to see Jonathan Isaac for only 11 games last year. And he was severely limited in his minutes to roughly 12 per game. Because Isaac was mostly coming off the bench his minutes were limited with Banchero — 99 minutes — and with Wagner — just three minutes.
And the Magic never used all three in the same lineup.
Expect that to change. That is very clearly the lineup the Magic need to test out at some point this season. It gives the Magic three super-skilled forwards who can matchup with just about anyone on the court.
It gives them tons of length and speed when they go big with Paolo Banchero or Jonathan Isaac playing center or length and size to go small with Franz Wagner lining up at shooting guard as he did in the lineups with Bol Bol.
The Magic’s lineups with Banchero, Wagner and Bol played 492 minutes to gether to limited effect — a -3.6 net rating. But Isaac is certainly a different kind of player. While he is not 7-foot-2, he offers the same kind of matchup problems as a defender and attacker on offense.
Who else the Magic pair with them is the big question. Certainly, a shooter who can play off the ball like Cole Anthony or Joe Ingles would fit. So too would going with a super defensive lineup with Jalen Suggs and Anthony Black or playing Wendell Carter at Moe Wagner at center.
Orlando has the options to do lots of different things with these kinds of lineups. But the Magic have the versatility to play this kind of lineup and make it work.