Orlando Magic are only a point guard and a center away from contention

The Orlando Magic will need a veteran point guard and center if they want to compete for a championship in 2025.
Orlando Magic v Charlotte Hornets
Orlando Magic v Charlotte Hornets / Jacob Kupferman/GettyImages

The Orlando Magic are a couple of players away from winning a championship.

They are sitting in fifth in the Eastern Conference at the moment, but flirting with the 4-seed and even the 3-seed. As the fourth-youngest team in the league, it feels like the Magic are just starting something.

And they are ahead of schedule, at that.

The 2024 season has proven to be one of the best in franchise history. So good that the team now has expectations to win at a high level. There is no going back. The Magic are a Playoff team for the foreseeable future.

It will be up to president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman to ensure they keep their place and become true contenders in the Eastern Conference. It is a big offseason for the Magic.

The competition will start to get harder the farther the Magic get in this year's Playoffs. But, as of now, the team lacks a playmaking point guard and a semi-dominant center. The Magic have to find a way to fill these needs as they look to move forward. What kind of guard or center they may need may be further revealed in the Playoffs.

Orlando will have to watch its postseason to figure out how to fill these two positions. But the team must fill it with players who fit the team's mold if they plan on making a serious championship run next year.

The Magic should be thinking more seriously about climbing the standings and doubling down on the progress they have made this year. And that means considering changes this offseason and how to improve the team.

The Magic are clearly being methodical with their rebuild. They opted to stand pat at the trade deadline and stick with this group to finish the season. They did not, as Weltman often puts it, go for the "sugar high" of a big star or splashy player.

That seems to be the approach the team will take this summer. The Magic have to find players who will fit the team's identity and system as much as add skills to the team.

But there are still needs the team has to fill.

The organization needs to find a point guard who can consistently score and distribute the ball. They need the spacing and shooting from the guard spot, but they also need organization and composure.

There are not a lot of point guards available that can do so. There have been a lot of inconsistencies at the point guard position due to health concerns, but they need a bona fide guard who can stretch the floor with his shooting to get the most out of their superstar forward, Paolo Banchero.

The point guards on the roster are not the type of point guards that Banchero needs for the Magic to be legit title contenders.

Markelle Fultz was clearly Jamahl Mosely's favorite to man the position, but his lack of consistent shooting and his lack of availability eliminates him from being a championship sidekick for Paolo Banchero. Fultz has the uncanny ability to penetrate the lane and find shooters on the outside, but lacks the kind of confidence needed to compete against the top guards in the league.

Jalen Suggs is a shooting guard who shoots 40 percent from beyond the arc. He has taken on the point guard role in name only. But whether he can ascend to that role of organization will be a question. Right now Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner do a lot of the organizing a point guard would do. That takes away from their efficiency.

Suggs is the primary defender on the perimeter for the Magic, and his on-ball presence is second to none. That is precisely the problem with him as a full-time point guard. You cannot have your primary defender also be the guy getting you into offensive sets. Those responsibilities need to go to a player who does not have that sort of workload.

In the end, the Magic rely on everyone to be playmakers and decisionmakers. But they found this week how disorganized they can be when put under pressure in late-game situations. It is clear how much a point guard would help put players in more advantageous positions.

If the Magic can solidify this position it will allow Banchero and Wagner to operate off the ball instead of having them make plays each possession. This is the first position that has to be filled and investigating trades for Atlanta Hawks guards Trae Young or Dejounte Murray makes some sense.

That is not the only need on the Magic's list and the only thing they will be watching closely in the Playoffs.

Finding a center will be a challenge for this organization too because of Banchero's growth as a player. The Magic will have to find a center who can protect the rim on defense and stretch the floor on offense to create spacing for Banchero to create.

The league has dismissed the twin-tower era due to offenses selecting to stretch the floor with three-point shooting instead of prowess in the paint. Especially when they already have a dominant power forward.

The team's mission is to pair Banchero with a center who strengthens his skillset. The Magic already have a young center in Wendell Carter who can play decent around the rim and stretch the floor. But he has had a down year, averaging only 11.1 points per game this season as he dealt with various injuries.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are one of the few teams in the NBA who still believes in starting two potential centers. And one of the reasons why they can get away with it is because of how well Karl-Anthony Towns shoots from three-point range.

So the organization needs a rim-protecting center who can pop out and hit an occasional three when the defense cheats and try to clog the paint. This type of center will allow Banchero to have spacing when he operates in the low post or in isolation situations.

The Magic currently has a center who can hit an occasional three but struggles to defend the rim at a high level -- although Carter still ranks comfortably above the league median.

Players like the Indiana Pacers' Myles Turner, the Minnesota Timberwolves' Naz Reid, the Milwaukee Bucks' Brook Lopez or the Memphis Grizzlies' Jaren Jackson Jr. are the kind of players the Magic should be looking for. Those are not easy to find and suggests Carter may be a fine solution for now.

But getting a center like this in the offseason will change life in Central Florida.

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The Magic have some work to do to turn the franchise into a championship contender. Starting with a solid center and a solid point guard needs to be the first order of business. But they have taken some major steps this year as they point toward their future.