By: David Bernauer
Franz Wagner is… Charlie Brown. “Hey, Franz Wagner isn’t a loser” you may be thinking. And you’d be correct. But do they both not face plenty of adversity? The relationship between Charlie Brown and Lucy is almost exactly the same as the rivalry between Franz Wagner and the referees. For instance, Charlie Brown is never able to kick the football. For time immemorial, the ball gets pulled away as he does a somersault and lands flat on his back. Much the same, Franz Wagner drives to the basket time and time again. No matter how many cuts, scratches and bruises he receives, the refs offer no reprieve. Though Charlie Brown is the main character in the comic strip, his treatment from his friends says in his world, he’s not exactly the star of the show, just like with Wagner in this world. Magic fans know Wagner is star material. We’ve seen his abilities. But the majority of the NBA world doesn’t see him this way. Rookie of the Year? Snubbed. Unanimous All-Rookie First Team? Snubbed. Being generally regarded as one of the best young players in the NBA? Again, for some reason, nobody outside Orlando seems to recognize this..
Paolo Banchero is… Lucy: Yes, Lucy is the main antagonist in the Peanuts series. Paolo Banchero may just be the biggest hero of them all for the Magic. But opposing teams see Banchero as the antagonist. Banchero is the one who dashes the hopes of defenders as he takes the ball to the basket. He is an intimidator. Consider how he got underneath Dejounte Murray’s skin this summer and how Lucy is able to do the same to Charlie Brown. Lucy isn’t one to back down and tells people how things really are. For the last decade, Orlando has largely been ignored and deemed an irreparable franchise by the casual fan. Since Banchero arrived in town, outsiders have started to pay attention and see Orlando for what they are: a squad with one of the most talented young cores in basketball right now. Much as Lucy’s early addition to the Peanuts added new dimensions to the comic strip, Banchero’s addition gives the Magic a versatility it hasn’t had in years. Magic opponents may need to seek Lucy’s psychiatric help after Banchero is through with them. Just ask Corey Joseph.
Bol Bol is… Snoopy: While the two share significant height disparities, this is about where the differences end. Snoopy is arguably the most famous and most well-rounded character in the Peanuts strip. One would expect Snoopy to be a normal dog who is obedient to an owner, but he’s got many alter egos, including a World War I flying ace, Joe Cool, and a world famous author among many other roles, all while never speaking a word. Bol isn’t the most vocal player, but his play more than makes up for it. You’d expect a player standing at 7’2” to be confined to the paint, but not Bol. He can hit shots from beyond the three-point line, take the ball coast to coast and dazzle the crowd with an array of moves if needed. Furthermore, Bol has the second most Instagram followers of any player on the Magic.
Wendell Carter Jr. is… Linus: Both Linus and Carter are seen as tertiary pieces. Linus is not the head honcho of the Peanuts, and Carter is not the best player on the Magic. But can you tell the story of the Peanuts or the current Orlando Magic without them? Just how Linus made sucking your thumb cool, Carter is making wearing goggles cool. Linus’s most famous trait is the blue security blanket he carries around everywhere, and Carter is the Magic’s security blanket. When he went down with a plantar fascia issue, the Magic immediately went on a nine-game losing streak. The Magic were sorely missing his interior defense, rebounding and ability to space the floor for a big man. Carter may be young, but is one of the most mature players on the Magic. He’s got the fundamentals down to a science and rarely misses a defensive assignment or a box out. Similarly, Linus is young but very wise, often giving sage advice, especially when explaining the true meaning of Christmas.
Jalen Suggs is… Pigpen: Just like Pigpen, Jalen Suggs is popular among fans. He dives for loose balls, skies high for rebounds and gives his all on both sides of the ball. Essentially, he does a whole ton of the dirty work. Unfortunately, neither are around as often as we’d like to see. Because of a slew of early career injuries, Suggs has appeared in 62 of a possible 115 games. Surprisingly, Pigpen appears in just over 100 of the 17,897 Peanuts comic strips. In this limited time, both are able to steal the spotlight. Pigpen was always memorable and righteous about his dirtiness, while Suggs has had posterizing dunks and late game heroics against the Golden State Warriors and Chicago Bulls.
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