Magic projected lineup and rotations heading into 2023-24 season

Markelle Fultz, Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero, Moritz Wagner, Orlando Magic (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
Markelle Fultz, Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero, Moritz Wagner, Orlando Magic (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /
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Markelle Fultz (Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports)
Markelle Fultz (Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Orlando Magic boast a deep and talented core. The team is close to taking the next step, but Jamahl Mosley will have his hands full trying to guide such a young team to the playoffs. 

The Orlando Magic finished last season 34-48, which placed them 13th in the Eastern Conference. Not exactly on the verge of contention. Even so, the Magic continue to trend in the right direction. Few truly terrible teams flashed as much promise and potential as the Magic, who — for brief stretches of time — looked like a burgeoning defensive juggernaut with two bonafide offensive cornerstones.

Now, expectations will trend upward. The Magic have to transition from rebuilding to building eventually. Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner are stars. The rest of the roster is ripe with quality young players, most of whom play both ends of the floor, and several of whom carry significant star upside in their own right. Another package of lottery picks arrived in June. The fandom’s patience for 30-win seasons will run thin shortly.

Orlando isn’t ready to contend yet, but it’s not like the Magic are wandering aimlessly through oblivion either. The NBA has never faced such an abundance of star power, and with it competitive parody, but few teams can match Orlando’s unique intersection of size and skill. The Magic are huge. Wingspan only gets you so far, but the Magic will be well above-average on the defensive end sooner than later.

The question is, how quickly can the team catch up offensively? It will depend significantly on Banchero’s second-year leap, not to mention further progress from Wagner. Orlando has a gaggle of high-upside guards, none of whom are entirely proven at the NBA level. If one or two of them really pop next season, then the Magic are cooking with grease.

As the 2023-24 campaign dawns, here is what Jamahl Mosley is working with rotationally.

Orlando Magic starting point guard: Markelle Fultz

You will struggle to find a player with a more unique career arc than Markelle Fultz. After years of battling a mysterious shoulder malady known as thoracic outlet syndrome, the former No. 1 pick is finally showing signs of NBA stardom. He may never achieve the heights we all expected coming out of the 2017 NBA Draft, but Fultz was extremely productive for Orlando last season.

The 25-year-old averaged 14.0 points and 5.7 assists on .514/.310/.783 splits in 29.6 minutes per game. He appeared in 60 games and started all of them, firmly supplanting Cole Anthony as the team’s lead ball-handler. Still young, there’s time for Fultz to build on last season’s success. The wellspring of talent beneath the surface never faded, only his confidence. Now he’s getting back in the groove.

Fultz’s jumper is probably never reaching its pre-injury form. Once a prolific pull-up shooter with deep range, Fultz averaged only 1.5 three-point attempts per game last season. That’s far and away the best number of his career and his progress should be celebrated, but he’s not a 3-point threat. Instead, Fultz has learned to weaponize his slithery handles and feather-soft touch to pick apart defenses with his in-between game. Fultz has the mid-range jumper down pat, and he’s a brilliant rim finisher due to his impressive length and body control.

Even when defenders sag off, Fultz is comfortable charging downhill and collapsing the defense to create for teammates. His eye for playmaking was never in doubt and he’s going to continue setting the table effectively and efficiently (only 2.3 turnovers to 5.7 assists).

Fultz can also smother guards at the point of attack and wreak havoc in passing lanes with his 6-foot-9 wingspan. He’s a genuine two-way player and, for now, the clear best guard on the Magic roster. Given all that he has been through, that is a triumphant statement — and Orlando should continue to have faith in Fultz’s development.

Primary backup point guard: Anthony Black

The Magic will eventually have to make a decision about all the young guards on the roster. There are too many; it’s impossible properly invest in the development of each one. Anthony Black, the No. 6 pick in June’s NBA Draft, takes the mantle of backup point guard. Black is more connector than lead guard, but he’s a consistent source of rim pressure and his focus is on creating for teammates. Plus, he’s not a great fit with Fultz, so he will probably see the bulk of his minutes when Fultz hits the bench.

Black’s lack of a reliable 3-point shot was the big concern coming out of Arkansas. It made him a bit of an odd pick for the Magic, who have plenty of shot-creators and defenders, but who desperately lack shooters. Even so, Black is a top-shelf perimeter defender at 6-foot-6 and he’s one of the smartest teenagers in the game. He processes the game quickly and makes a point to keep the ball popping, which will promote a more fluid offense.

The Magic love tall, versatile athletes. Black made all the sense in the world from that perspective. He’s the ultimate Magic prospect and Orlando will hope the 3-point shot comes along enough for him to regularly share the floor with Fultz. If not, that particular source of roster conflict could define the next couple of seasons.

Other players who could receive minutes at point guard: Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs