The Orlando Magic are at a crossroads.
The team clearly can see its bright future ahead. Paolo Banchero is on track to make the All-Star team, and Franz Wagner is an All-Star quality forward next to him. There are tons of young talent who have gotten better and grown.
The team has climbed this year into the postseason conversation. The Magic have never been below .500. It is a season of clear and measurable progress.
Then again, how the Magic got here and how the Magic move forward feels as uncertain as ever. The Magic have a lot of things to clean up.
The team's 14-5 start to the season is in the rearview mirror. That first quarter of the season helped the team stake a place in the Play-In Tournament and postseason picture. It seems unlikely the team will lose that progress.
But there is still clearly a lot of work to do with the team going just 9-17 in the next 26 games.
The Magic might be where everyone thought they would be in the preseason. But this last quarter of the season revealed deep flaws the Magic will have to address sooner rather than later.
The Magic's success in the first quarter showed everyone what this team is capable of. The season's second quarter has forced the team to reckon with its deficiencies and where it needs to improve.
But Orlando is still trying to build the team it wants to be. The team is not likely to make moves to rescue this season or maximize their results for only this season. The Magic are still a young and developing team trying to set itself up for the future.
That means the question as they get closer to the trade deadline is to ask what the ideal player looks like.
If the Magic have Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner locked in as the team's foundations, and they feel comfortable with Jalen Suggs as a vital part of the team's backcourt and defense, then it puts the point guard and center spots in the crosshairs for improvement. Indeed, that seems to be where most fans and observers appear to be looking.
With Markelle Fultz's inconsistent availability this season -- he has played in only 13 games this season and has a litany of injuries throughout his career -- and a lack of size in Cole Anthony and inexperience and poor shooting in Anthony Black, point guard seems to be where the team is targeting for its next major upgrade.
As the Magic enter this trade market, they will think about the ideal vision for the position.
The team's decision to draft Black suggests what the Magic seek. Everyone knows the Magic's obsession with size and length. They have seemingly valued that over everything else at the early stages of their rebuilding phase.
Indeed, the Magic value Fultz's size and ability to defend multiple positions. At 6-foot-4 and 209 pounds, he is difficult to move around, and he uses his size to get steals and be disruptive in passing lanes.
The other thing the Magic value about Fultz is his poise and ability to manage games. He is good at controlling and mixing up the pace of games.
Fultz's absence has had a significant effect on this team. It has pushed Banchero and Wagner into more central roles as point forwards for this team. According to data from Second Spectrum, Banchero leads the team with 76.1 touches per game, with Wagner averaging 59.8 touches per game.
Last year, Fultz led the team with 66.6 touches per game, with Banchero and Wagner at 64.8 and 52.9 touches per game. Fultz is down to 47.0 per game (granting his limited minutes and time on the court).
This says the Magic probably do not need a traditional pound-the-dirt point guard. They want to use Banchero and Wagner as initiators. So they need someone who can play off the ball while still leading the team as the point guard.
They seem to want a bigger guard who can maintain the team's defensive flexibility, a guard who can manage the game and get the team into sets, and then a guard who can help spread the floor and shoot 3-pointers.