The Orlando Magic reserves come to play.
Orlando has talked about its depth all offseason and training camp. The team felt, armed with some health, that it would be able to have a constant wave of pressure and constant attack. There would be no rest against Orlando. And those moments in the second and fourth quarters when teams could relax against a depleted Magic bench would be well over.
You can make the case that the Magic’s bench has been just that, magical. The bench has shown the most consistency in terms of this organization’s maturation process.
Orlando might have one of the more dynamic and best benches in the league to start the season.
The Orlando Magic are playing well at the beginning of the 2024 NBA season and a large part of that has been because of how well their bench has played.
At this point in the season the Magic rank second in bench scoring at 43.6 points per game, right behind the Indiana Pacers who hold the top spot at 53.6 points per game.
That stat alone is something to tip your cap too. It shows this team has depth and is in dire need for their stars to be just as consistent as they are in order to win consistently.
The Magic’s most common bench group of Cole Anthony, Gary Harris, Joe Ingles, Jonathan Isaac and Moe Wagner has a +17.5 net rating with a 110.5/93.0 offensive/defensive rating split in 26 minutes together.
Orlando’s bench has been a decisive factor in building out and growing leads in the early part of the season. They have played a big role in the Magic’s strong start.
Even with the injuries the team has faced. The Magic’s reserves play well in the starting lineup as well.
On Saturday, the Magic’s next man up mentality was put to the test because the team were missing two of their starters due to injury and a key bench player in Harris. Coach Jamahl Mosely went to his bench and called on Goga Bitadze and Anthony Black to fill in for Markelle Fultz and Wendell Carter.
Anthony Black was called into the starting lineup due to Markelle Fultz experiencing some knee swelling in shoot around. He ended the game with 11 points, four rebounds and two assists in his first time ever playing in an NBA game. Anthony Black was pivotal defensively and played hard-nosed defense on D’Angelo Russell.
Goga Bitadze was called into the starting lineup due to Wendell Carter fracturing his third metacarpal in his left hand while going for a rebound in the Orlando Magic’s 115-113 victory over the Utah Jazz. Goga Bitadze had primary duty to guard Anthony Davis and ended up with a double double as he finished the Lakers game with 10 points, 10 rebounds and two assists.
Even when two players from the Magic’s bench were required to play starter minutes, the bench was still able to get 39 points from Cole Anthony, Moe Wagner, Joe Ingles and Admiral Schofield.
Anthony has probably been the most consistent offensive player on the team thus far, averaging 15.9 points per game while shooting a career-best 48.1 percent from the floor. He has made an astounding 42.9 percent of his threes. Anthony has delivered instant offense for Orlando.
Moe Wagner has also been solid off the bench, averaging 11.3 points per game on 64.0 percent shooting. Both of these players have been a consistent source of offense and energy off the bench for the Magic.
This is a great sign for this young team.
The Magic’s bench has started the season off strong and has been more consistent that any part of this team. In their first game of the season against the Houston Rockets, the bench scored 59 points and outscored the starters in their 116-86 rout. Anthony led the team in scoring with 20 points
In the next game against the Portland Trail Blazers the bench was able to score 38 points to help the starters pull off their first road win of the young season. The Magic only beat the Trail Blazers by five points in that contest so the bench was crucial. Cole Anthony (18) and Moe Wagner (17) were the second and third leading scorers on the team in this game as Franz Wagner led the team with 23 points.
The fact that the Magic have been able to lean so heavily on their bench in order to win games is allowing their young stars time to develop while winning. The team will turn into the best version of themselves later in the year if the Magic can continue to play well from the bench.
This is something the Magic have not had as injuries often depleted their depth. But even then Orlando was effective averaging 36.8 points per game off the bench last year, 10th in the league.
Orlando has seemingly that scoring into overdrive this year.
We will see if this years bench squad can continue to lead this team.