5 training camp questions for the Orlando Magic
Can Jalen Suggs take a starting spot?
The Orlando Magic enter training camp with four of their five starting spots already locked up.
Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner are obvious centerpiece options at the forward spots. Wendell Carter is clearly the center. And Markelle Fultz is clearly the point guard.
At shooting guard last year, the Magic went with Gary Harris whenever he was healthy. And the Magic’s starting group was still pretty good. Orlando’s starting group had a +1.4 net rating (113.0/111.6 split). That is all the Magic would need to be .500, especially with the added depth the team expects to have.
That was the Magic’s most-used lineup at 570 minutes. But it appeared in only 36 games. That shows how much injuries were part of last year’s story.
Despite the ways it makes sense to keep Harris with the starting group because of his shooting. There does feel like something of an expiration date. Harris is a free agent this offseason and there are a ton of guards and wings on the roster now.
Besides that, fans at least are eager to see Jalen Suggs take another crucial step forward in his career. It is easy to fall in love with the potential of youth. And Suggs is a player who it is easy to fall in love with because of his tenacious defense.
The offensive potential just has not come around. Suggs came through another injury-filled season to average 9.9 points per game with a 49.3 percent effective field goal percentage. That was at least an improvement over his rookie season.
Still, everyone anticipates Suggs can grow and improve enough to take a starting spot. And that is really the truth. It feels like Suggs can grab that starting spot and lock down the Magic’s lineup for years to come with a strong season.
There is at least some evidence Suggs could work with the starting group. The Magic’s core four starters with Suggs had a +11.3 net rating (113.7/102.4) in 58 minutes across 15 games. That is not a big enough sample to draw conclusions. But the potential is promising.
But that spot is not his yet. And Suggs may have to prove his longevity in the regular season before he gets the promotion into the starting lineup. But Suggs feels like he has every opportunity to take the spot.
If the Magic are sticking with the four players everyone anticipates they will stick with for the time being, shooting guard is the open spot the Magic have to figure out what to do with. There will be a lot of focus on this spot throughout the season.
It starts in training camp and seeing how much better Suggs has gotten.