5 lineups the Orlando Magic can use to take advantage of length, versatility
The Orlando Magic like to tout their positional size and versatility. They have players who are long and big and can defend multiple positions. That is what matters.
But this is kind of a small team. And while the Magic can play some bigger lineups — Moe Wagner played six percent of his minutes at power forward last year according to Basketball-Reference for the Magic but played more than 30 percent of his minutes there in his previous two seasons with the Magic — their more interesting lineups involve them going small.
Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner and even Jonathan Isaac are not traditional bigs even though they are, well, big. Rebounding is going to be a concern for this team.
But after Isaac, the Magic are kind of thin at power forward.
If When Isaac has to miss games, whether part of his return-to-play plan or some injury picked up during the season, who is going to be the backup power forward?
The Magic seemed to be testing some things out in Summer League when they were unusually small with Caleb Houstan and Jett Howard logging some minutes at power forward. That seems to be the plan for this team this year.
Houstan logged 11 percent of his minutes at power forward last year according to Basketball-Reference. So it is not absolutely crazy that he could play there. He is 6-foot-8 and can shoot, so would give the team some necessary shooting.
Certainly part of the reason the Magic drafted Jett Howard over other shooters like Gradey Dick and Jordan Hawkins is his size. Howard is listed at 6-foot-7, but he has the size to play a position up at power forward if the Magic want to go small and spread the floor that way.
And, of course, free agent signing Joe Ingles has played a good chunk of his minutes in the league at power forward. Last year for the Milwaukee Bucks, he logged 36 percent of his minutes at power forward according to Basketball-Reference. He has played 45 percent of his minutes at power forward for his entire career.
It feels like if Isaac is unavailable, the Magic are very likely to run lineups with spread options at the power-forward spot. Or they will make sure one of Paolo Banchero or Franz Wagner are on the floor at all times.
But the idea to try to spread the floor from one of the forward spots is certainly a good one — even Isaac may yet be a decent 3-point shooter making 6 of 15 3-pointers last year (40.0 percent) and 34.0 percent in the 2020 season.
That still gives the Magic some flexibility to be effective no matter whether they go big or small. Their versatility will help them create some fun and interesting lineups to matchup throughout the season.