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

Who is the team’s MVP for the season?

Philip: Everyone here will probably bring the same answer, but it is Paolo Banchero.

There are advanced stats that probably say Banchero is not the All-Star or superstar we all think he is. Banchero is still trying to figure out what it means to be a true superstar.

But he is a star. There is no doubt about that.

And whatever mistakes he is making now, are going to make him better in the long run.

As much as I love Franz Wagner (and I do), defenses collapse around Banchero. He faced more double teams than any 21-year-old has probably seen since LeBron James (maybe that is hyperbole). Banchero produced even without an ideal roster around him and got this team to the Playoffs. It is not just him, obviously. But it is so clear how everything revolves around him.

Brandon: A runaway for Paolo Banchero.

As Philip noted above, Banchero is still finding his way to reach the next level of stardom he is projected to. The growing pains and inefficiencies are there, but he is still carrying this team to levels beyond all expectations.

He has put up LeBron James-like stats at his age -- most recently becoming just the fourth player to average 20-plus points, 6-plus rebounds and 4-plus assists per game at age 21 or younger, joining a solid list of Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Luka Doncic.

Now, a chance to prove he is the superstar he can be in his first playoff appearance. I cannot see a reason not to give our OMD MVP award to the star of the show. 

Tyler: Jonathan Isaac had a season worth mentioning in the discussion, but it is definitely Paolo Banchero in my opinion.

The Magic have improved by 26 wins in the two seasons he has been here and when the team was getting hit hard by injury, and had Caleb Houston, Goga Bitadze, etc. starting, Paolo Banchero stepped up in both scoring and assists in a way that is incredibly rare, especially for a 21-year-old.

He was an all-star even though all season he faced more double and triple teams than anyone in an Orlando uniform since Dwight Howard. He was the Magic's leading scorer and ran pseudo-point guard most of the season. And, although he had some games that were turnover-heavy,  he handled the massive workload like a 10-year vet. I agree that it is not all Banchero, but there is no question who everything revolves around. 

Omar: Paolo Banchero is the MVP for the Magic this season. Banchero earned his first career all-star appearance and will have a case for All-NBA third team.

With that being said, his MVP case comes from keeping the team stable while the team battled injuries throughout the season. Whether it was Markelle Fultz and Wendell Carter early or Franz Wagner missing time, Paolo Banchero had career-defining performances. Banchero has shown the ability to affect the game in different ways whether it be scoring or creating for others. 

Patrick: Paolo Banchero takes the title of best player and the MVP for the 2024 Orlando Magic.

This year, Banchero took another step forward in player development and made an all-star team. For a second-year player that is extremely promising and for a former No.1 overall pick, that puts his trajectory exactly where we would have hoped. Now for his next text; he’ll need to play well in the playoffs.

Coby: I like to be original when I write about my topics, but Paolo Banchero has been so elite this year that it would be a crime.

An all-star in his second year and he has an all-NBA case that was electric to watch. Banchero had a lot of help in most games, but in the games where no one can hit a shot, Banchero was always there to bail them out.

He led the team in points and assists, he was second in rebounds and threes made per game. He has shown development in his jumper and he is an elite all-around player.

His first playoff series will tell a lot about how much his game has really developed, but there is no way you can say that he is not the MVP of the Magic. 

Alfred: I am sure 100 out of 100 Orlando Magic fans would say this name, but it is hands down Paolo Banchero. His all-star campaign in year number two following a Rookie of the Year season puts him on a direct trajectory toward stardom and being the team leader in points and assists shows just how impactful he is to the Magic’s scoring.

Not to mention, I was really impressed with his three-point shooting that went from less than to better than the 30 percent mark, which is showing a blossoming confidence from long range. He is easily starting to become “that guy” in Orlando when it comes to getting the team going with his scoring.

His 42-point performance earlier in the season against the Cleveland Cavaliers is indicative of what we could see from the budding Magic star and 2023-24 team MVP in the playoffs upcoming. 

Harrison: It is hard to argue that it is not Paolo Banchero.

He is the youngest player in history to lead his team in points, rebounds and assists. Orlando was fouled by opponents more than any other team largely due to Banchero’s presence. He proved he can score on all three levels and is dominant at such a young age.

An All-Star selection would have been a dream scenario in his second season and he rose to the occasion. He is in the conversation for the top-5 most coveted talents in the league and the national media still has yet to cover what he has done in his first two seasons. The sky's the limit. 

Spencer: This has to be a rhetorical question. Not only is Paolo Banchero the team’s MVP, but he has had the best year from a forward in the Eastern Conference in 2024.

You can make an argument there has never been a second-year power forward who has led his team to 47 wins without another All-Star or All-NBA player on the roster. Tim Duncan won an NBA title in his second season, albeit the lockout year) but had a veteran center in David Robinson to help lead the San Antonio Spurs.

Paolo Banchero's leadership style is similar to Shaquille O’Neal’s, because when Banchero is on the court everyone in the arena knows who is the first option. Paolo Banchero has had a season for the ages as he has surpassed NBA legends like LeBron James and Michael Jordan when it comes to second-year win totals. James led his team to 40 wins in year two, while Jordan led his team to 30. So hands down the MVP for Orlando is Paolo Banchero.