Re-evaluating the post-draft depth chart

The moment the Orlando Magic selected Anthony Black with the sixth pick, the questions began.

Really, they started before the Magic even made the sixth overall pick and people started to think the team was going to take Black with that pick. Rumors were already flying that if the Magic went with a guard with the sixth pick, they could start shopping Cole Anthony, Markelle Fultz or Jalen Suggs.

The rumors surrounding Suggs are already getting some serious legs with a reporter from his hometown of Minneapolis suggests the Los Angeles Lakers are snooping around for him – what they have to offer is another question, and that answer is very little.

But that little bit of smoke is still present nonetheless.

President of basketball operations Jeff Weltman appeared to shoot down those ideas quickly, suggesting Anthony Black could play small forward in three-guard lineups. He’s not worried about a shift logjam.

But it didn’t help that Orlando also drafted Jett Howard, another winger. That logjam exists nonetheless.

The Orlando Magic’s draft has raised many questions about the team’s guard situation. The depth chart certainly reveals a bit of a logjam. It also shows the road map for the rest of the offseason.

The Magic Enter free agency now with a depth chart that is getting very crowded. They have nine players under contract with seven more on non-guaranteed deals. It’s safe to assume the Magic will retain potentially four of those players.

With 13 players on the table and a few more needs to fill before they can start the season — not to mention cap room and deadlines coming up this week before free agency gets underway — there’s still a lot of work to be done on this list.

However, the draft has changed our view of the Magic’s depth chart. And before we dive too deep into free agency, we need to reset where Magic stands and where the opportunities for change are, and what needs Magic actually needs to fill.

Whether the Magic want to talk about it or not, they are a bit loaded at the guard and wing positions. And finding the mythical path to play for their rookies will be a bit of a challenge.

Plus, they’re clearly betting a little too much on Jonathan Isaac’s health at the forward spot, and they still need center health. A roster rebalancing in trade or free agency seems imminent now.

So here is the Magic’s current depth chart as they enter free agency:

Markelle Fultz Gary Harris Franz Wagner Paolo Banchero Wendell Carter
Cole Anthony Jalen suggests Jett Howard Jonathan Isaac Moe Wagner
Michael Carter-Williams Anthony Black Caleb Houston Was Was Goga Bitadze
Kevon Harris Admiral Schofield Chuma Okeke


It’s already pretty clear how crowded it is for Magic. This was inevitable with all the young players the Magic have.

There will definitely be some competition for minutes from the start as Black tries to break through the guards. Even if he plays small forward, pushing Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero to share more of the power forward minutes equally, that leaves little time for Jett Howard.

However, that scenario is somewhat unlikely.

Banchero and Wagner played the majority of their minutes together last year — 61.1 percent of Wagner’s minutes and 65.6 percent of Banchero’s minutes. There’s no reason to think that wouldn’t change.

Finding the rookies that playing time will be difficult. That was always going to be one of the big questions that the Magic’s two draft picks focused on the wings would bring.

Of course, there is potential for some release before free agency begins.

Gary Harris’ final year of his contract is non-guaranteed with a June 30 guarantee date. It was long believed that if the Magic released him last year at $13 million, it would mean the Magic are in the hunt for big fish in free agency.

From an asset management standpoint, this wouldn’t seem to make sense with few big men available and a roster that is already too full. The veteran guard would be much more valuable as a trade asset than releasing him in free agency.

There is little to suggest the Magic are interested in letting him go with a likely competition brewing for the starting shooting guard spot between him and Suggs, who had a strong finish to the season but has had multiple injury issues throughout his young career.

The depth chart certainly looks a lot cleaner and opens up clearer avenues for the young players to play if the Magic trade one of their guards. It has recently been rumored that the Magic could look to trade one of their young guards — Markelle Fultz, Cole Anthony or Jalen Suggs — to relieve some of that playmaking pressure.

Of course, there is also the other side of this coin.

The Magic have dealt with so many injuries over the past three seasons that they could see this depth as an advantage. As Weltman put it, they will create some internal competition for playing time. The rookies he just drafted aren’t guaranteed playing time. And now having four players run the point would make the scenario that led to a 5-20 start far less likely.

Although it certainly feels like the Magic could be looking to consolidate some players in a trade within the next year. They could hold on to what they have and see how it all shakes out and who steps up or backs down.

Black and Howard’s presence certainly confounds extension talks for Anthony and Fultz this summer.

The question of their future has definitely come up as the Magic may only be able to keep one and still have a roster that can work.

At least now Orlando has an area where the team is obviously open for business should a trade opportunity arise.

It should also be noted that a quick look at the depth chart is that Orlando has 13 players on the roster.

In free agency, the Magic will almost certainly focus on power forward and center. The team has already been rumored to be among the many teams interested in Grant Williams. He would give the Magic a solid stretch-4 option and a tenacious defender.

Options at center include Naz Reid, Drew Eubanks, Trey Lyles and Chimezie Metu. The list gets pretty slim pretty quickly.

There is clearly still work to be done to complete this list.

Orlando has the resources to get things done — an estimated $23-$25 million in cap space depending on some of those roster decisions. They can use that cap space to go out and sign a player or use it to absorb more salary in a trade.

It should be assumed that the Magic aren’t done, even if they do make some more cosmetic moves to end their offseason.

But many of the possibilities lie in what the Magic ultimately want to do with their guard situation.

If they feel comfortable with their guard situation and allow all of these players to compete, they may just make surface moves to add forward depth and a center to their roster.

If they feel they need to create a clearer path for their rookies to play, they can trade one of their guards to strengthen another area of ​​their roster.

Both choices feel possible at this point.

Orlando has muddied that guard position. Everyone saw it when the Magic made their picks in last year’s draft. But the team now has a roadmap to complete its offseason.

  • Published on 25/06/2023 at 14:20
  • Last updated on 25/06/2023 at 14:20

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