5 ideal lineups for the Orlando Magic
Defensive Lineup: Markelle Fultz/Jalen Suggs/Paolo Banchero/Jonathan Isaac/Moe Wagner
The Orlando Magic have been excellent on defense so far this season. The team is constructed to bank on their defensive stops leading to buckets in transition.
This unit should be one of the best in the league on that side of the ball. Jalen Suggs is a playmaker on defense and there are few guys you can say that about.
He is everywhere on defense. He guards his man at half court, he switches hard, he forces players to drive baseline, he rebounds, he takes charges, he blocks shots, and he uses his hands to steal passes and make deflections.
He is the real deal.
Suggs can disrupt offenses by himself on any given night. He needs to continue to build his offensive game, but there are several ball dominant players on this team so being a catch and shoot specialist would be huge.
He is second in the NBA in loose balls recovered and third in deflections. The true definition of an effort player and reminiscent of the Heart and Hustle era.
Markelle Fultz can stay in front of any guard and is strong enough to not get bumped off drives to the paint. He has a 6-foot-9 wingspan, so he also can influence offenses with his length. Orlando leads the NBA in turnovers forced per game and will continue to do so when Markelle returns from injury.
Paolo Banchero has also improved his defense and is averaging 1.5 steals per game so far. He has the tools to be an intimidating presence and it is starting to show. He is not afraid to guard the opposing team’s best scorers and has lateral quickness to stay in front and contest shots.
Not only is Jalen Suggs a one-man defensive unit, but pairing him with Jonathan Isaac does not seem fair. Isaac has been as influential as a defender gets. He is typically guarding the best player on the floor and is contesting at the rim in elite fashion.
The 1.4 blocks per game do not do Isaac justice. Countless times, defenders are scared to shoot over him at the rim and he is altering shots resulting in misses. He is eighth in deflections per 36 minutes so far this year.
Many would consider Wendell Carter to be the better defensive player than Moe Wagner, but Moe Wagner does the little things that are important in basketball.
While Isaac is there to block shots, Wagner puts his body on the line to make winning plays. He is fifth in charges drawn and sixth in box outs. He is willing to be scrappy on the defensive end and set a tone that Orlando is going to play hard. All five of these guys set that precedent.
Magic fans would probably prefer to watch this unit on the defensive end and I cannot blame them. Mosley has emphasized being a top-five defense in the NBA and there is little doubt that they are not there already.
Orlando is second in defensive rating, second in opponent field goals attempted, third in opponent field goals made, and sixth in points per game allowed. The team is creating havoc and it is keeping them in games.