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Remaining Hopeful Despite 2-7 Start

By: Tim Jones

 

The start of the 2022-23 season for the Magic has been filled with both highs and lows

for the young Orlando squad. Let's start with the lows.


The Magic have yet again been plagued by injuries. Assumed starting point guard

Markelle Fultz has yet to play a game due to suffering a left big toe injury in training

camp. Other key notable rotational pieces Jonathan Isaac and Gary Harris are still out

recovering from knee injuries. Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs have also missed time, forcing Franz Wagner to essentially play point guard for the group at times. Even after a fair share of struggles and a 2-7 start, the highs are worth noting.


No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero has not disappointed. In fact, he’s been not only the best

rookie so far, but a historically great one. Banchero started his career with six games in a

row scoring 20 points or more, becoming just the sixth player in NBA history to achieve

this feat. He is averaging 21.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 3.6 assists in the first nine

games of his career.


Bol Bol has probably been the biggest surprise so far for this group. For the first time in

his four year career he is getting meaningful minutes, and he is making the most of his

opportunities. He is averaging a career high 11.1 points and 7.4 rebounds and is

currently tied for second in the NBA with 2.6 blocks per game.


Last night’s win was the most by far the most encouraging game all season for the

Magic. Jalen Suggs led the way in a 130-129 win over the defending champions. Suggs

put together easily one of the most impressive performances of his pro career thus far,

tallying 26 points, nine assists, and four steals. Banchero continued his remarkable start

with 22 points and eight rebounds and Franz Wagner 19 points and three rebounds for

the Magic.


The Magic trailed by 16 early in the third quarter but closed the third on a 21-8 run,

scoring 43 points in the period to cut the deficit to two points. In the clutch was where

Jalen Suggs left his mark on this game. Suggs made plays on both ends, scoring 15 of his

points in the final period to help propel the Magic to a victory. He drained a three-

pointer to give the Magic a three point lead with just under 40 seconds left, then on the

other end, stole a pass from Stephen Curry which as a result sent him to the free-throw

line where he made one of two shots.


After knocking off the champs, the Magic will look to build on an inspiring performance

Friday night. There are some more than winnable games during this seven-game home

streak and hopefully they can get some guys back from injury as well.


A promising outing from Suggs, continued early success from Banchero, and steady play

from Wagner and Wendell Carter Jr., along with the intriguing flashes from Bol Bol

should give fans more than enough to be excited about with this group.

Much can be made about how this team has been seemingly incapable of maintaining

leads, but one thing for certain is that this team competes.


The win-loss record doesn’t tell the full story. Other than the win against Golden State, the Magic played playoff teams with high aspirations such as Cleveland, Dallas, and Boston extremely closely and nearly every game came down to the wire. The hope is that the Magic can eventually convert some of these losses to wins whenever they can return to full strength.


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