5 lineups the Orlando Magic can use to take advantage of length, versatility
There was one point last year when the Orlando Magic were so depleted in the backcourt they did something very few teams would be brave to do. They ignored the traditional position nomenclatures and went for a jumbo lineup, using Bol Bol as the team’s power forward and sliding Paolo Banchero up to small forward and Franz Wagner to shooting guard.
In reality, in those lineups, Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner were often bringing the ball up with Gary Harris providing spacing as the nominal shooting guard.
As one scout put it per a new report that came out during that early part of the season: Everyone talks about playing positionless basketball, the Magic were the one team that actually practiced it (there was some more colorful language involved).
Eventually, when the competition gets a bit more serious, the Magic have to think a bit more about matchups and who can guard whom. But the team has plenty of flexibility to reach that perspective.
At the end of the day, the goal for any team should be to play the team’s five best players in any alignment. Yes, the team needs size and needs to do its best to be more consistent on the glass, but if the Magic have five players who are versatile enough to play anywhere on the floor, then the other team has to matchup to that too.
President of basketball operations Jeff Weltman has shied away from any direct discussions of positionless basketball. He acknowledges the length, size and versatility of his roster. But he is not openly embracing the idea of playing whoever is playing well regardless of position.
But that is the direction the Magic are heading one way or another.
So Orlando is going to have a lot of options to decide who the team’s five best players are at any one time. And the Magic should be willing to play their five best players regardless of traditional positions.
That could mean Markelle Fultz, Jalen Suggs, Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner and Wendell Carter. It could mean throwing out one guard for Jonathan Isaac. It could mean playing Cole Anthony instead if he has the hot hand. Or picking Anthony Black for defense. Or Jett Howard, Joe Ingles or Gary Harris for his shooting.
It is easy to see the wealth of options Jamahl Mosley should have. But the goal is always to play the five best players at any given time. And that should remain one of the Magic’s key philosophies.