Orlando’s young roster now includes young star Banchero

October 11, 2022 GMT
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Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero (5) advances the ball downcourt during the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks, Friday, Oct. 7, 2022, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Gareth Patterson)
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Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero (5) advances the ball downcourt during the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks, Friday, Oct. 7, 2022, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Gareth Patterson)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The Orlando Magic gathered for their first meeting of training camp last month and the theme of coach Jamahl Mosley’s talk was accountability.

A bit later, Mosley was running a couple minutes behind schedule for an interview session with some reporters. That’s when point guard Cole Anthony good-naturedly pointed to his watch, proving that the Magic are indeed listening to what Mosley is preaching.

“Everybody’s got to take accountability, man,” Anthony said. “That’s the first step to being great.”

Greatness is the goal for Orlando. The team knows that turning a franchise’s fortunes around is a process, and so far, they seem to be welcoming it. The Magic went 22-60 last season and got their biggest victory a month after the final game — the win in the draft lottery and the right to draft Duke’s Paolo Banchero with the No. 1 overall pick.

Still, they might not contend this season. Injuries remain a concern: Jonathan Isaac hasn’t played in two years, Markelle Fultz missed camp with a broken toe and 2021′s No. 5 pick in Jalen Suggs is already down with a knee injury and no timetable for a return.


But the Magic should be better.

“There’s going to be ups and downs,” Banchero said. “It’s 82 games. You’re not going to have a good game every game.”

Banchero — whose lone college season was Mike Krzyzewski’s last with the Blue Devils — played two games at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas and didn’t disappoint. Orlando shut him down at that point, not wanting to risk any injury and believing he’d gotten enough of a first taste of the NBA game to get him ready for camp.

“The great part of what he went through in college was it was Coach K’s farewell tour for every arena he walked into,” Mosley said. “There was always a level of pressure. He has a tattoo on his arm that says ‘No pressure.’ ... He understands what it is.”

Banchero and fellow rookie Caleb Houstan, the second-round pick, were initiated over the summer into how Mosley wants things done. Most of Orlando’s other players already know Mosley’s plans, and that continuity should help the coach entering his second season.

“We asked our guys to be great decision makers and sometimes that has to do with not just the basketball in their hands, but it has to do with off the ball — when you’re cutting, when you’re moving, when you’re creating space for your teammate,” Mosley said. “All those things are coming into play because we walked through all of that through camp last year and throughout the entire year. So now we’ll be able to hit home on those even more.”



To say the Magic are young is an understatement. Franz Wagner is 21; he played more minutes, by far, than any other Magic player last season. Cole Anthony is 22; he led the Magic in points and assists per game last season. Wendell Carter Jr. is 23; he led the Magic in rebounds per game. Chuma Okeke is 24; he led the Magic in steals. Mo Bamba is 24; he led the Magic in blocks.

Toss Banchero and Houstan in the mix — both of whom will turn 20 during the season — and the youth movement is certain to continue in Orlando.



When Orlando defended well last season, it was competitive. In the games where the Magic gave up no more than 103 points, they were 14-10; a good winning percentage, but still below the league average of 79% from last season. When the Magic gave up 104 or more, they were a league-worst 8-50.


Look for the Magic to try to be more assertive on getting to the basket this season. Orlando had only one game last season where it shot more than 30 free throws — the lowest such total in the league. The Magic averaged 19.7 foul shots per game, 29th in the 30-team NBA, ahead of only the Los Angeles Clippers (19.6).


Entering Tuesday, FanDuel Sportsbook had seven teams at 500-1 to win the NBA title — the longest shots on the board. Those teams: Oklahoma City, Indiana, San Antonio, Houston, Detroit, Utah and Orlando. But FanDuel does have Banchero as the 2-1 favorite to win rookie of the year, ahead of Detroit’s Jaden Ivey, Sacramento’s Keegan Murray and Houston’s Jabari Smith.



Orlando starts with six of its first eight games on the road, then immediately goes into a season-best seven-game homestand — mostly against Western Conference opponents, a stretch that includes defending champion Golden State and expected contenders Dallas, Minnesota, and Phoenix. No road trip is longer than five games.


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