Paolo Banchero eyes Orlando Magic's needs this offseason

The Orlando Magic are expected to have a busy summer to add to their team after a strong 2024 season. Paolo Banchero is not flexing his star muscle yet, but he has thoughts for what needs to happen this offseason.
Paolo Banchero is preparing for a busy summer where he hopes to make improvement. Just as he sees the team adding to the roster.
Paolo Banchero is preparing for a busy summer where he hopes to make improvement. Just as he sees the team adding to the roster. / Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic entered their offseason with tons of optimism and belief.

The team defied outside expectations to finish with 47 wins and earn the 5-seed in the Eastern Conference. They went further to force the Cleveland Cavaliers to a Game 7 in what was for many of their players their first time in the Playoffs.

More than any of that, Paolo Banchero emerged as a true potential superstar. He joined the ranks of young players who have stood out in the Playoffs this year, taking the reins from the older generation and mapping out the landscape for the league's future.

Banchero followed his breakout rookie season by averaging 22.6 points per game, 6.9 rebounds per game and 5.4 assists per game on his way to his first All-Star bid. He upped his game in the Playoffs, averaging 27.0 points per game, 6.6 rebounds per game and 4.0 assists per game, including three games of 30 points or more.

Paolo Banchero had a Playoff performance that measures up with the early showings from Luka Doncic and LeBron James. He is already in an elite company.

The Orlando Magic are expected to make some major moves this offseason

What Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic fans and everyone wants is to see the Magic advance and continue to improve. In the week since the season ended, everyone's ideas have been running wild in preparation for a big summer.

The Magic have a lot of tools at their disposal. They are expected to have somewhere near $30 million in cap room to use in free agency and trades. They have already been rumored and connected to big-time free agents like Klay Thompson and Paul George. Everyone has fired up the trade machine to try to grab players like Dejounte Murray, Anfernee Simons and even Darius Garland or Donovan Mitchell from the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Magic's needs are fairly well known. The real question then is what does a player like Banchero think about them? What does he feel he needs to succeed?

Ultimately the Magic's task this offseason is to find a way to make Banchero's job easier and allow him to be more efficient and rested for the end of games and the end of the season. Everything the Magic are doing should be geared toward enhancing what Banchero does.

He has some ideas too, as he told Ben Golliver of The Washington Post:

"“[The front office] wants two-way guys who add to what we already have in terms of our defensive identity, length and versatility. Shooting is a big part of what we need to improve on, whether we go and get somebody or try to develop guys. I don’t know which way they’re going to approach that. And having a guy who can set the table and be reliable. We have a lot of talented guys who can make shots and make plays: me, Franz [Wagner] and Jalen Suggs. I would rather be more of an offensive hub than the point guard, if that makes sense.”"

Paolo Banchero to the Washington Post

Magic fans could likely identify a lot of those needs.

Shooting is the biggest need the Magic are after this offseason. The team finished 24th in 3-point field goal percentage and 29th in attempts per game. More shooting creates more space and ability for Paolo Banchero (and Franz Wagner) to drive and dish back out to the perimeter. The Magic's lack of shooting on the road especially cost them in their Playoff series.

But more than that, Orlando also looked like it needed a table-setter as Banchero put it. Banchero often was the one bringing the ball up the floor.

He handled the ball as if he was the point guard—his 76.4 touches per game ranked 19th in the league, according to Second Spectrum, and is among a bevy of point guards and playmaking forwards like LeBron James. His 87.3 touches per game in the Playoffs is sixth in the league.

Banchero showed himself plenty capable of handling the ball. And the Magic's philosophy is not likely to deviate from that. As Banchero said himself, the team is looking for two-way guys who add to the team's identity, length and versatility.

Banchero does not envision himself giving up the ball or much control of the offense. He just sees himself more as a hub rather than as the point guard.

That is a suspicion of what the Magic are looking for.

They probably want a player who is equally adept at playing off the ball as they are on it. That might include players like Sacramento Kings guard Malik Monk, Los Angeles Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell or Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons. There are options for this kind of quasi-point guard the team is looking for.

Orlando Magic need to improve, but there is little pressure to make wholesale changes

One thing does seem clear though: With the Orlando Magic having this much cap room this offseason and a chance to build on their success from last year, the Magic are likely going to have to spend some money and add at least one starter to the mix.

Paydays for Franz Wagner, Jalen Suggs and Paolo Banchero are on the horizon. This is the offseason to spend money for this team.

Banchero is a star player but he is not quite ready to flex pressure on the front office as stars often do. There is a lot of trust the Magic know what they want and will go out and get it.

"I think we have a great group," Banchero said during the team's exit interviews. "A lot of guys who really gel well together. I think the front office did a good job putting this team together and having a vision. Whatever they choose to do, I'm going to trust and I'm sure everyone else will. I'm excited honestly just to see what happens. If nothing happesn, then nothing happens and we'll run it all back."

At the end of the day, what Banchero seems to want is not major changes to the roster. He wants to see the team build on what they accomplished this season and continue to allow the team to grow. Singling out the team's core of himself, Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs suggests a tremendous belief in what the team has already built.

Instead of seeing the team make wholesale changes to the roster, he wants to see the team supplement and add to an already successful roster.

A lot of the team's improvement will come from internal growth, as Banchero hints. This is a young team and they should get better.

That includes Banchero who is planning a summer without responsibilities (perhaps he will get the call to join the Olympic team but he told Golliver he will evaluate that opportunity if it comes up). He is hoping to make some major strides himself.

All of it should make the Magic better heading into next year.