A new era of Orlando Magic basketball begins!
The Jalen Suggs era. The Franz Wagner era. The Jamahl Mosley era.
And dare we say, the new-look Mo Bamba era?
It’s a change of direction for the Magic, complete with new faces, fresh philosophies and rejuvenated returnees destined to determine their future within the organization.
When at full strength at some point this season, the Magic will boast nine rotation players under the age of 24, including the elder statesman Jonathan Isaac and three players still unable to legally purchase an alcoholic beverage.
The roster has raw talent, upside and some potential misfit and redundant pieces. But there is also plenty of opportunity that players can begin taking advantage of as early as tonight when the Magic open their season in San Antonio against the Spurs.
Suggs, the No. 5 overall pick, will make his NBA debut after missing the preseason finale due to illness. It’s expected that he will start on opening night for a Magic team that used four different starting lineups in four preseason games.
With Chuma Okeke set to miss the opener due to a hip injury - along with Jonathan Isaac (knee), Markelle Fultz (knee), Michael Carter-Williams (ankle) and E’Twaun Moore (knee) - surrounding Suggs likely will be Gary Harris, Terrence Ross, Franz Wagner and Wendell Carter Jr. Unless of course Mosley rewards Bamba, who averaged 3.8 blocks per game during the preseason, with the start alongside Carter, which was experimented with in preseason.
A dual-center unit, however, doesn’t make much sense against a Spurs team that used the same starting five in each preseason game and likes to get out in transition with Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Keldon Johnson, Doug McDermott and Jakob Poeltl.
The Spurs, like the Magic, are establishing a new identity and building around a young core. That makes them, also like the Magic, something of a blank slate heading into the season. Roles will be determined as the games play out, with Murray and Johnson expected to step up offensively for a San Antonio team that is uncharacteristically lacking a veteran presence.
They’ll go up against a Magic defense that Mosley wants to re-establish as the identity of the team with some high-pressure and high-energy play. It makes for a contest between two rebuilding and rather mysterious teams who truly don’t know who their leading scorers will be by the end of the season.
There aren’t expected to be many wins for the Magic this season. But against a Spurs team that isn’t projected to win many more games than them, there is opportunity to surprise and start off the new era of Magic basketball with a win.
Who: Orlando Magic (0-0) at San Antonio Spurs (0-0)
When: Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.
Where: AT&T Center - San Antonio, Texas
Line: Spurs -6.5, Over/Under 213
TV: Bally Sports Florida