The Magic should not make a rash decision about one of their starters

Ahead of free agency, fans are clamoring for the Magic to find a replacement for Wendell Carter Jr. at 

center. However, the strengths that Carter displayed this season will be invaluable for any contending team moving forward. As for the shortcomings this season, an early injury and self-inflicted pressure cost Carter Jr. the season most were hoping for.

Orlando Magic v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Five
Orlando Magic v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Five / Jason Miller/GettyImages

Going into the 2023-2024 NBA season, the Magic expected Carter Jr. to be the team's center moving forward. However, after an early hand injury suffered in the fifth game of the season while securing the game-winning rebound, Carter Jr. was sidelined for 20 consecutive games and was a little inconsistent when he returned.

The hesitancy of crashing the glass may be the result of the injury to his hand, which led to the one setback year in terms of his rebounding. This has also overshadowed all of the positives and growth Wendell Carter has displayed and why he has the case to continue to be the team's starting center.

The Magic are perceived as a team that is in desperate need of shooting. This is a fair outlook for a team that finished 24th in 3-point percentage at 35.2 percent. At the same time, Wendell Carter finished 4th among the team in 3-point percentage at 37.4 percent. Offensively, Carter can spread the floor and be a threat in the pick and roll/pop.

On the defensive end, Carter matches what the Boston Celtics proved to be valuable in the finals. Being able to switch 1 through 5 and not have a weakness on the perimeter was a big reason the Celtics were able to beat the Dallas Mavericks in the finals and give Luka Dončić trouble. Not only is Carter a strong perimeter defender at his position, but he is also good at defending in space. The timing to disrupt the lob threat was evident in the first round of the playoffs against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Now, looking back at last season, Wendell did struggle to rebound the ball. It was the worst rebounding season of his career since joining the Magic in the 2021 season.

At the end of the season, Wendell addressed this in his exit interview.

"It got to a point where I was doubting myself a little bit, just being honest,” he stated.

Then, to double down, it was reported Carter would go through another surgery on that hand. There is evidence to prove that this down year in that part of his game was an anomaly.

The Magic have no reason to move on from Carter yet

Carter showed growth despite his inconsistency and that is one reason why he should still be part of the team. The line of thinking that the Magic should move on from him because of a freak injury doesn't make sense and would hurt the team offensively.

Carter is also on an amazing contract, getting paid only $11.9 million next season. This continues to allow Orlando to be flexible in other areas to improve the roster while avoiding the second apron of the CBA deal.

Free agency is rapidly approaching, and the decision on Carter is going to be made one way or another. The Magic should not move on from Carter based on a freak injury that held him back in one area of the game, although important. While on the other hand, Carter provides the team with shooting and defensive versatility that has been the team's calling card. The Magic are about to start putting the final team together, and Wendell Carter Jr. should be the team's center.