What the Orlando Magic are not looking for at point guard

The Orlando Magic seem to be in the market for a point guard this offseason to help set the table. But just as important, what the Magic are looking for is someone who won't take over the party.
The Orlando Magic are seeking a point guard it would seem in this year's free agency class. But they have to find the right one.
The Orlando Magic are seeking a point guard it would seem in this year's free agency class. But they have to find the right one. / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Paolo Banchero got to see the full extent of what he is capable of and what he can do with the ball in his hands. That is the opportunity every player hopes for.

Orlando has spent the first two years of Banchero's career running wild with their imaginations on what a skilled 6-foot-10 forward can do. They stomached through mistakes because he was painting on a boundless canvas.

The results are pretty encouraging through two years.

And that Banchero stepped up in the playoffs the way he did and stood tall in critical playoff games shows the Magic made the right choice in the 2022 Draft and that Banchero has star written all over him.

Now the Magic must figure out how to support and build around him properly. Banchero shared some ideas in an interview with The Washington Post. His comments there only echoed what most Magic fans were feeling coming out of the playoffs series—the Magic need a point guard.

The question has always been what kind? Because there are a lot of different point guards out there. The NBA has changed dramatically, allowing space for players like Banchero to exist. There is no one point guard anymore. There are different types of guards in the league.

Banchero told The Washington Post he envisions himself as more of an offensive hub. But even he would admit he needs a table setter. The team needs someone to get the team into the flow of the offense and vary their attack.

This Point Guard Field Guide from The Ringer is a good road map at least to think about the kind of guards the team is going for. Especially considering the Magic seemingly are looking at a diversity of guards and have the ability to go after any guard—whether it is a free agent like Tyus Jones or D'Angelo Russell (or a swing guard like Malik Monk) or trading for guards like Anfernee Simons, Darius Garland, Dejounte Murray or Trae Young.

Everyone has run the gamut on the point guard targets the Magic should be looking at. There are reasons for and against each one of them. Orlando will have to decide where it wants to compromise to add essential skills to the team.

But it should be just as clear what kind of point guard the Magic are looking for as it is what kind of point guard the Magic are not.

Orlando is entering this offseason with something already established. This team won 47 games as is. The Magic are not trying to reinvent the wheel this offseason.

However, seeking a point guard is like seeking a new quarterback in many ways. Who they have running the show, maintaining the offense and playing off their established players, will be vital to the team's overall development. It is not something they want to get wrong.

The Magic should have some idea of what they are looking for. But they need to be cautious they do not take the ball too much away from their young stars. It is a fine needle to thread as they add an important player to their mix while still maintaining the culture and style they have built.

Orlando Magic need a point guard, but not a system

In the modern NBA, there are a lot of point guards who simply take over.

It is not the 1990s when there were point guards who were simply organizers. The league has relished in point guards and ball-handlers who control the tempo and pace of the game and who are scorers.

There are a lot of ball handlers who are the system—whether that is someone like Luka Doncic or LeBron James or someone like Chris Paul who commands the offense with the ball in his hands and finds scoring opportunities with the threat of his passing and leadership.

The Magic are not likely a team looking for a point guard to define their system. They are not a "System" team as The Ringer describes it.

Paolo Banchero has almost specifically said he does not want to be the main ball-handler as those players are. He does not want to be The System for this team.

That is how the Magic used him last year though. Banchero led the team with 76.4 touches per game (87.3 per game in the playoffs, nearly 20 more than Franz Wagner), according to data from Second Spectrum. He was essentially the team's point guard.

Banchero's touches put him 19th in the league. There were only five non-point guards ahead of him in that category (Nikola Jokic, Domantas Sabonis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Donovan Mitchell and Desmond Bane).

That Banchero had the ball in his hands and played like everything revolved around him in this way shows how invested the Magic are in maximizing Banchero's skills. What they want from a point guard is someone who can set him up and get him easier shots.

There has been a lot of fan chatter about Trae Young as the Atlanta Hawks enter a time of uncertainty among their two guards. But Trae Young, even playing alongside Dejounte Murray, was a heavy touch and usage player.

Young averaged 85.5 touches per game (seventh in the league). He had a usage rate of 30.5 percent and has not had a usage rate worse than 30 percent since his rookie year.

Young would give the team a huge shooting threat and someone on the ball who can create. But he would take over the offense without a dramatic change in his role—a dramatic change he struggled with alongside Murray.

Orlando does not want a point guard to take over. The team is not looking for a superstar guard like that to take over the team.

Orlando Magic have to decide how much they want Paolo Banchero off the ball

But Paolo Banchero made it clear too that he does not want to turn into the "System." Maybe that ship has sailed. Every star is a system of its own. Coach Jamahl Mosley once said of Luka Doncic that the star player controls the team's pace. Stars have a lot of control regardless of who you put around them.

Banchero may not want to be in complete control of the offense, but the Magic are not about to take the ball out of his hands completely. They are looking for a balance between someone who can manage the team and create but still play off the players they have.

This is why the Magic are probably also not looking for an "Operator." These players, in The Ringer's estimation, run the show. These point guards are the driving forces for their team. They get themselves downhill and create gravity for their team. Banchero probably wants to be in this category of ball-handler.

This is the category The Ringer puts Dejounte Murray in. If there is a concern about adding a player like Dejounte Murray—or his teammate in Trae Young—it is that they are accustomed to being on the ball and the main stars. And they have the credibility to be those lead players.

So the question is whether the Magic can operate with two of these players. Does that take away from Banchero? Does that devolve into a your-turn-my turn offense that stalls out in the playoffs?

Really what the Magic are trying to figure out is how much to take off Banchero's plate and which guard takes the right amount.

The Magic's goal in seeking a point guard is to find someone to help set the table rather than run the show. They need an organizer but not someone who is going to take possessions away from their two young stars.

Will they be willing to take a back seat to Banchero and Wagner? Would their development be slowed playing alongside that kind of a guard? These are among the questions the Magic are considering.

They need a willing passer and a solid shooter. But then someone who can organize and direct too.

And as they look at the point guards available to them, they have to identify the players who clearly will not work just as much as they have to point to the ones who will.