Orlando Magic battle for Playoff position, searching for the future

The Orlando Magic are in the middle of a race for homecourt advantage for the 2024 Playoffs. At the same time, the Magic are approaching a critical part of their rebuild where decisions will have to be made. This final stretch of games will be the biggest assessment of various players for this upcoming summer.

Brooklyn Nets v Orlando Magic
Brooklyn Nets v Orlando Magic / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages
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Orlando Magic battling for playoffs, eyeing their future needs

Offense and Shooting

The most obvious problem lies with their offense. The Orlando Magic need a boost to improve an offense that ranks 22nd in the league at 113.1 points per 100 possessions.

Without addressing their first-round pick in the upcoming draft, the Magic have another first-round pick who is itching to get an opportunity. They should find a way to give Jett Howard a chance at the rotation. That will give the offense an immediate boost.

In the G-League, Howard has averaged 19.8 points per game on 45.2 percent shooting from the field and 36.5 percent from three on 9.8 attempts per game. Howard's shooting and shot creation will do wonders for the Magic's offense.

But his playing time will depend on how serviceable he will be on the defensive side of the ball.

The Magic have some other shooters to develop and grow too.

Cole Anthony was recently in the middle of a slump struggling to do anything on the offensive end. In January, Anthony averaged 8.8 points per game on 37.5-percent shooting from the field and 23.8 percent from three.

Anthony is the team's sixth man and leader of the second unit. If Cole Anthony plays well, it spreads the floor for everyone else. He is someone who can attack and create for the second unit, unlocking the Magic's dangerous depth.

Anthony has recently emerged from his slump shooting 45.5 percent from the field and 37.0 percent from three in February.

Anthony is big in the locker room and brings contagious energy. The second unit is dependent on Anthony's level of play.

This has been an important resurgence for Anthony as the Magic continue their race for homecourt advantage. As games become higher pressure, this sample size will signify what version of Anthony the Magic can expect.

He is hunting for consistency. That is what he gets from a lot of his second unit teammates, especially Gary Harris now that Harris has returned to the starting lineup.

The Magic need shooting and veteran leadership and Harris embodies those two needs.

Harris is shooting 37.2 percent from three this season and is arguably the only player in the starting unit that brings gravity as a shooter.

Not only has Harris been a good shooter, but he has also been a good defender for the Magic with a +1.2 defensive plus/minus. This has been important as Orlando has not given up much if anything on the defensive end to add shooting.

Long term Harris does not bring in the playmaking aspect the starting lineup needs. But he is not a bad option off the bench. The question comes to this offseason where Harris will be entering free agency this summer.

Orlando just is not in the position to give up shooting.

The team has seen improvements from several shooters -- Paolo Banchero jumped from 29.8 percent as a rookie to 36.0 percent this year and Jalen Suggs jumped from 32.7 percent to 39.2 percent. Orlando has had some genuinely strong shooting moments.

But the team still ranks 25th in the league shooting 35.3 percent from three. The Magic take the second-fewest threes in the league at 30.9 per game. And that number is decreasing even as the team shoots better.

Defenses do not respect Orlando's ability to space the floor and this may be the team's biggest problem when they get to the Playoffs. The Magic need more outside threats to become contenders and everyone knows it.