OMD Roundtable: Recapping the Orlando Magic's breakthrough season

The Orlando Magic were among the surprises in the Eastern Conference and the entire NBA this season. They broke through to become the fifth seed in the playoffs. Before those begin, we look back at a successful season.
The Orlando Magic experienced a surge this season and broke through to make the Playoffs this year.
The Orlando Magic experienced a surge this season and broke through to make the Playoffs this year. / Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
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OMD Roundtable: Recapping the Orlando Magic's breakthrough season

How should the Orlando Magic view this season?

Philip Rossman-Reich: This season is an unqualified success.

Honestly whatever happens the next two weeks in this playoff series just feels like gravy. I felt the biggest thing the Magic needed to do was to get into a seven-game series and feel the pressure of playing competitive basketball. I knew this team was talented and would take some steps forward, but I did not imagine them improving by 13 wins like this, carving out the third-best defense in the league.

What makes this all so special is that this feels like the beginning of something. This is a special team and one of the best in Magic history. But it feels like they took advantage of this season and milked it for everything it is worth.

Brandon Daniels: Without a doubt a success. This is one of the five youngest rosters in the league less than two years removed from the first overall selection in the 2022 NBA Draft.

Slated in the 20-22 range in preseason power rankings, most experts pegged Orlando as a potential team on the rise. There was not much national coverage backing this group of 20-somethings to make a postseason run – ending this year as not only a playoff team but as Southeast Division champions and a top-five seed in the East is a call for celebration, however the postseason pans out in Orlando.

Tyler Demorest: I am definitely in agreement with the season being a major success.

Going into the season I think everyone would have considered a play-in spot a success, so the team overachieved by quite a bit. I also agree that a seven-game series was/is absolutely necessary, especially for Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, Jalen Suggs and Jonathan Isaac.

Orlando solidified its identity (so hard for a young team to do), and have two stars younger than 22 years old -- one of which was already an all-star. Not to mention Suggs' growth, and Isaac’s reemergence. The reward of this season is getting our really young roster playoff experience, regardless of the results. Although, a good showing could go a long way in the Magic getting the national attention they deserve. 

Omar Cabrera: This season is an absolute success. Paolo Banchero taking the next step and becoming an all-star and being led by two players being 22 and under with Banchero and Franz Wagner.

While the emergence of those two players and the shooting of Jalen Suggs has been important, the health of Jonathan Isaac has been a major success this season. There were questions being asked of why the Magic stood by Isaac and his play to finish the year. Potentially being a starter on the 2024 playoff team speaks to the patience and the hard work both the team and Isaac have done.

While this is the best team the franchise has seen since 2011, there is still no ceiling to what the team will become with the third-best defense all season long and the team will only get better. 

Patrick Previty: Unequivocally a success. Prior to the start of season, most Orlando Magic fans and people around the team projected the team in the play-in. As far as the national media was concerned, they said this Magic team was “still another year away."

Let’s not let the late-season disappointment of dropping to the 5-seed cloud our judgment. The 2024 Magic finished with 13 more wins than the year prior, finished in the playoffs — not play-in — for the first time since the bubble, and could potentially make it to the second round for the first time since 2010.

Coby Leibowitz: There is no other way to view this season other than a success and a preview of what could possibly be the best stretch of years in Orlando Magic history. After the team finished 34-48 record, which was 13th in the East, no one could have predicted their success this season.

The narrative was if they could make the Play-In Tournament and they ended up being a top-5 seed. The rebuild is way ahead of schedule and the Magic's young core is fitting into place. They have two all-star caliber players in Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner, and Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony had career years and carved out roles as the heart and soul and sixth man.

The Magic are about to play their first playoff series since 2020 and have a real chance of winning as well. Regardless of how the series goes this is a valuable experience that will benefit the whole team and hopefully will leave them wanting more in the future. What a time to be a Magic fan.

Alfred Ezman: No doubt in my mind that this is a successful season for Orlando. On top of that, it is the best season they have had in essentially more than a decade. It is the most wins since the 2011 season and it gives the team a very steady and big crutch to lean on for the future.

Everyone involved in basketball operations with the Magic from the players to the coaches to the front office, should be proud of what they are building.

They have climbed beyond many people’s expectations as well following a 34-48 year in 2023 that was the 10th sub-.500 season the Magic have had in 11 years. Many players began hitting their groove like Paolo Banchero becoming an all-star and Jalen Suggs finding some solid shooting with his healthy streak. And speaking of healthy streak, Jonathan Issac with a career revival in Orlando when everyone was giving up on him!

Everyone in the organization embraced the role they were in and it got them to a top-five spot in the Eastern Conference. That in my eyes, and many other Magic fans’ eyes, is a very successful and great season. 

Spencer R. Henderson: The Orlando Magic organization would be foolish not to consider this season a success, this team went from 13th to the fifth seed in a year. At that pace, they should be a lock for expected contention in 2025.

They finally got great draft capital from their choices and have the Magic on par with the Eastern Conference’s elite.

The key to their rebuild and success this year is that they did not have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to get to this point. Paolo Banchero, Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner remind me of a young Oklahoma City Thunder squad with a young Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden.

Keep in mind this is just the second season for Banchero and just the third for Wagner and we are actually talking about a 47-win Magic team. They should view this season just as successful as they did when the organization had Shaquille O'Neal and Anfernee Hardaway.

The fans in Orlando actually have expectations in the Playoffs now that the Magic have shown that they have rising talent. That alone is a successful year. 

Harrison Brown: The Magic have not had a season like this in a decade. The team once again has a young nucleus that features a first-overall selection. Orlando wasted little time in their rebuild and competed atop the Eastern Conference with their three leading scorers being 22 years old or younger. Their elite defense was on display throughout the year and they regained home-court advantage at the Kia Center. The Magic went 29-12 from home this year which was the seventh-best record at home in the league. This young team has the city of Orlando reinvested and the Magic have officially arrived.