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


Everyone's focus for the Orlando Magic has been on the backcourt, but the playoffs will be a major test for the team's interior defenders and future at center.

Wendell Carter has had a tough season thanks to the hand injury that knocked him out early in the season. His minutes, points, shot attempts and rebounds are down from last season. He is averaging 11.6 points per game and 6.6 rebounds per game.

He is shooting a career-best 61.9 percent effective field goal percentage. There is hope in his offensive numbers. Carter has been an important floor spacer for the Magic.

Carter has continued to be a strong versatile defender.

This final stretch of the season and especially the playoffs will be a good look to see how Carter plays in a high-pressure situation and in playoff-style basketball. These final games will also have long-term consequences at the center position.

Carter has a lot to prove. And the Magic have to assess their depth at center this offseason.

Like Anthony Black, Goga Bitadze has been in and out of the lineup due to injuries throughout the roster at different times this season. Bitadze played well in his minutes averaging 5.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.

But Bitadze does have his shortcomings. Bitadze is a good shot blocker and rim protector but does not have the defensive versatility to switch onto the perimeter. He does not have much to offer on the offensive end beyond putbacks and hard rolls to the rim.

While Bitadze is not a starting center, he has shown he can fill a role off the bench and be a backup center in this league.

With Bitadze also being a free agent this summer, he may walk during the summer and will make the Magic decide on what to do at the center spot.

They are comfortable with Moe Wagner as the backup big for his work around the basket. But that leaves them without a center who can protect the rim effectively.

Bitadze leads the Magic's centers giving up 54.7 percent shooting at the rim. Carter is at 58.5 percent. Jonathan Isaac, for reference, is at an incredible 45.8 percent.

Despite the strong season and tight race, the Magic are still flawed and this current roster will not be the final iteration of the team that will compete for a championship. It will be tricky to maintain the team's culture and still make important improvements.

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But as the team needs to improve, contracts expire and players claw to find consistent minutes, this offseason will bring big change. The team first has to figure out what it needs from this playoff experience.