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Orlando Magic Weekly Review: A Pinstriped Thanksgiving and the Near Return of Paolo

Some rapid-fire Orlando Magic observations as we head to the weekend

Orlando Magic v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

With the working week winding to an end, let’s check the pulse of all things pinstriped.

Who won the week that was?

With the Magic coming to the end of their brief basketball vacation and the Thanksgiving break now in full swing across the nation, it feels appropriate to recognize pinstriped positives up and down the roster. As such, this week I’m thankful for:

Paolo Banchero’s ability to pile up points. The way that Franz Wagner navigates the hardwood. Wendell Carter Jr.’s almost metronomic contributions. The intensity that Jalen Suggs injects into every damn sequence. Cole Anthony’s confidence. The Bol Bol experience. Markelle Fultz’s staccato rhythm in the halfcourt. The threat of a torch ignition whenever Terrence Ross rises up from deep. Gary Harris’ calming on-court demeanor. Chuma Okeke’s rhymes. RJ Hampton’s speed. The fact that Mo Bamba’s contract is pretty tradeable. How clean Caleb Houstan’s jumper looks when his feet are set. The edge that Moe Wagner plays with. That Stuff is undoubtedly the league’s best.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

The upcoming slate

This week’s schedule: vs 76ers (Fri); vs 76ers (Sun); at Nets (Mon); vs Hawks (Wed)

The Magic catch a major break this coming week, with a two-game home set against a Philly side without Embiid, Harden and Maxey. It’s opportune timing for Orlando, who will themselves be boosted by the return of at least Paolo Banchero and Moe Wagner. Considering the depleted Sixers just got whacked by a Hornets side that had won only a single game from their previous twelve (with that win coming against – eek! – the Magic), you have to like their chances of at least securing a split. On the road against Durant and the Nets to finish a back-to-back is a tougher proposition, as is the Hawks and their All-Star backcourt. Still, Atlanta has alternated wins and losses for more than two weeks now; if that streak keeps up, you can pencil the Magic in for *applies a simple pattern to ATL schedule* … a loss. Oh well.

The crystal ball says …

2-2. Pinstriped hope springs eternal, and with some of the cavalry returning it’s easy enough to envision the Magic breaking even over the next seven days.

It’s time to keep an eye on …

Houston Rockets v Orlando Magic Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Paolo Banchero. The first year phenom was electric across his first eleven games. Howevr, he was unfortunately derailed by an untimely ankle injury that has lingered across the last couple of weeks. The good news is that the big man has now been scrubbed from the team’s injury report, so we can expect to see him reclaim his spot in the starting unit for tonight’s tilt against the Sixers. The hope will be, of course, that the rookie can pick up right from where he left off, which was scoring the ball at prodigious rate and serving as the dynamic offensive presence that the Magic have so long desired. Banchero was awesome to open his rookie campaign. The question now is how efficiently and effectively can he bounce back from his first dose of adversity?

Three from downtown

Orlando Magic v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
  • Jalen Suggs’ game-winner to blast past the Bulls was exhilarating to watch and a just reward for a youngster who is clearly putting in work behind the scenes. But rewatching the sequence it’s evident just how easily it also could have turned into a turnover. It feels like the success of the second-year guard’s season will ultimately be defined by how well he can learn to look after the ball.
  • Small sample size alert! There’s currently only one player in the NBA who has averaged more than 20 minutes per-game and is sporting a higher true shooting percentage than Gary Harris’ 72.2% (Grant Williams, 72.5%).
  • I think we can probably stop with the Admiral Schofield minutes, particularly any that involve him being deployed as a center.

A figure for thought

-48. The Magic’s cumulative plus/minus across all clutch minutes this season, 30th league-wide.