5 lineups the Orlando Magic can use to take advantage of length, versatility
Jalen Suggs in the starting lineup
There are going to be a lot of mini-battles to watch throughout training camp this year. Most of it will be sorting through the rotation and the kinds of combinations and groups that play throughout the season. The Magic will likely use what they had last year as a baseline to start with.
But no season is ever completely the same. And there will always be tweaks and adjustments. Plus Orlando should be aiming to work in Anthony Black, Jett Howard and Joe Ingles into the rotation. They are all capable of playing meaningful minutes for this team.
There is one piece of intrigue perhaps for the starting lineup.
The Magic should feel comfortable that they have four positions set for their starting lineup in Markelle Fultz, Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero and Wendell Carter. That is not up for debate at this point.
What still seems up for some debate is whether the Magic will move Jalen Suggs into that starting group. And that is still something of a mystery.
To some, it certainly feels like the spot is Suggs’ to take with his disruptive defense and offensive potential. In some respects, Gary Harris should still hold down the spot because of his low usage and his ability to hit threes, a skill the Magic still desperately need.
Regardless, it feels like the Magic will platoon some at shooting guard — do not expect Harris to play more than 24 minutes per game as he did last year. And that means the Magic should look to see what Suggs looks like more with the Magic’s starting group.
Last year, Orlando’s starting group with Harris in the lineup was perfectly find. They had a +1.4 net rating (113.0/111.6 split) in 570 minutes as the most-used lineup for the Magic last year.
When Suggs is in the lineup for Harris though, the Magic had a +11.3 net rating (113.7/102.4 net rating) in 58 minutes across 15 games. That is not a large enough sample — 3.9 minutes per game, compared to 15.8 per game for the lineup with Harris in it — to draw any conclusions. Orlando is not looking at those numbers and immediately inserting Suggs into the starting lineup.
It does make everyone think. And it is something the Magic should explore.
Harris is solid in just about every category. He is the team’s best outside shooter to boot.
But Suggs’ potential is something everyone should still be excited about. And that is what the Magic need to explore. They need to see how he matches up with the starting group and whether he is a good fit with it.
That is part of Suggs’ overall storyline for the season as he tries to establish his place and use this healthy offseason to springboard his career back into place.
Magic fans are certainly eager to see how he pairs with this starting group. And, again, while Harris is solid as a defender, he is not nearly as potentially disruptive as Suggs can be.