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 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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