Happy New Year from The City Beautiful!
The Orlando Magic have exceeded expectations this calendar year. Their young core of Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, Jalen Suggs and others have developed into one of the best up-and-coming squads in the NBA.
They have gone from near the bottom of the league last season to a current top-five position within the Eastern Conference heading into 2024, capped off with a 40-36 record this calendar year entering the New Year's Eve finale in Phoenix against the Phoenix Suns.
The best part of 2023? This team has a swagger. They have an identity. Banchero and Wagner are developing as two-way threats and both are putting a bid in to make the trip to Indianapolis in February as NBA All-Stars for the first time.
Both of the Magic's young stars have taken significant leaps this year.
Banchero went from 29.8 percent to better than 35 percent from deep so far in the 2024 season, making steps to becoming the dual inside/outside scorer that gets him to the next level.
Wagner improved away from the ball, making him a perfect complement to Banchero. Wagner has improved his rebounding and assist numbers this season, all while averaging a cool career-high 20.6 points per game. Not too shabby.
With all of the good, there are still some improvements this team needs to make to make the next step from a good young team into a legitimate playoff roster.
The Magic will have one more game before the ball drops and ushers in a new calendar year. It is sure to be a big one for the Magic as they look to break through to the playoffs for the first time since 2020 and grow well beyond that in the years to come.
Here are three New Year's Resolutions for the Orlando Magic for 2024.