Reviewing the 2021 Orlando Magic

July 10th, 2021

By Alan Lu

Prior to this season, the Orlando Magic had been making the playoffs for years as a low-tier playoff team.  This year though, they had gotten off to a bad start, and they decided it was finally time to trade former All-Star center Nikola Vucevic and to break up their team to go into a rebuilding mode.  They declared this to be a lost season, but they have some solid pieces to build for the future.

F-C Jonathan Isaac
2021 (ORL): DNP – Out for the season, knee injury

He missed the entire 2020-21 NBA season due to a knee injury that he sustained late in the previous season in the Orlando bubble in 2020.  Isaac is a very athletic, high-motor forward that projects to be a solid role player for the Magic for the upcoming season.

2021 Season Grade: I (I for Incomplete)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starter on the Orlando Magic
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars (3 stars potential)

The Orlando Magic traded Nikola Vucevic to acquire Wendell Carter Jr. from the Chicago Bulls this past season.
(Photo:
Alex Menendez/Getty Images, via Fansided’s Orlando Magic Daily)

C Wendell Carter Jr.
2021 (CHI/ORL): 54 GP, 11.2 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.9 APG, 50 FG%, 29 3PT%, 73 FT%, 16.7 PER, 57 TS%, 3.4 WS, .118 WS48

Wendell Carter Jr. showed a solid ability to score and rebound the basketball, and he also showed that he can pass the basketball.  He struggled with his on-ball defense, and he also didn’t block many shots this year.  He also will need to improve his outside shot so that he can be able to stretch the defenses. Still, his ability to make plays in the paint may make him a solid player for the Magic for years to come.

2021 Season Grade: B- (B with CHI, C with ORL)
Expected 2022 NBA Role:  Starter on the Orlando Magic
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars (3 stars potential)

G-F Terrence Ross
2021 (ORL): 46 GP, 15.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.0 SPG, 41 FG%, 34 3PT%, 87 FT%, 13.2 PER, 53 TS%, 0.9 WS, .030 WS48

Ross scored plenty in volume, and he took on the bulk of the scoring load after the Magic started trading and unloading players at the midseason trade deadline, and he also showed off solid playmaking skills.  He was fairly middling as an outside shooter and he didn’t quite defend as well as he had in years’ past though, but Ross is a reliable veteran that can provide some solid minutes when he is on the floor in games.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Orlando Magic
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

G Markelle Fultz
2021 (ORL): 8 GP, 12.9 PPG, 5.4 APG, 3.1 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 39 FG%, 25 3PT%, 89 FT%, 12 PER, 46 TS%, -0.1 WS, -.024 WS48

He only played 8 games before missing the rest of the season due to a knee injury.  He didn’t shoot nor defend particularly well early in the season, but he did a good job of distributing the basketball, he made his free throws, and he also was active as a rebounder on the floor.

Fultz has often been injury-prone and has had a relatively disappointing start to his young NBA career, but he appeared to be turning the corner in his third season in the NBA with the Orlando Magic before getting hurt this year due to a knee injury.  I’m willing to give him a little bit of the benefit of the doubt, as he’s shown signs that he can be a productive player in the NBA, even if he may never quite be the shooter or the big-time scorer he was once promised to be.

2021 Season Grade: C-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Orlando Magic
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)

G Gary Harris
2021 (DEN/ORL): 39 GP, 9.9 PPG, 2.0 APG, 2.0 RPG, 40 FG%, 34 3PT%, 82 FT%, 9.1 PER, 51 TS%, 0.7 WS, .033 WS48

Harris was dealt to the Magic in a midseason trade, and he didn’t shoot nor defend nearly as well as he is capable of.  He had a disappointing, lackluster season, but he is a 3 and D role player that can capably fit into a rotation in the NBA.

2021 Season Grade: D (C w/DEN, F w/ORL)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Orlando Magic
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

The Orlando Magic’s rookie point guard, Cole Anthony was thrust into a much larger role than anticipated after Markelle Fultz got hurt early in the season. He was inconsistent with his jump shot, but Anthony was able to put up solid counting statistics, and some feel that he should’ve been named to one of the 2020-21 NBA All-Rookie teams this year.
(Photo:
Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images, via The Athletic)

G Cole Anthony
2021 (ORL): 47 GP, 12.9 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 4.1 APG, 40 FG%, 34 3PT%, 83 FT%, 12.1 PER, 50 TS%, -.001 WS48

Anthony is an athletic point guard that managed to get a lot of playing time, especially when Fultz went down to a season-ending knee injury.  He didn’t shoot the ball nor particularly defend well, but he excelled as a rebounder and facilitator on the court.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Orlando Magic
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)

C Mo Bamba
2021 (ORL): 46 GP, 8.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 47 FG%, 32 3PT%, 68 FT%, 19.3 PER, 56 TS%, 1.8 WS, .117 WS48

Mo Bamba played well in his role this past season, as he excelled as a scorer, rebounder, and shot blocker when he was on the floor.  He will still need to improve his outside shot and on-ball defense, and he’s been fairly injury prone over the years.  On the other hand, he seems to be steadily improving as an overall player, and he could be a regular rotation player next year on the Magic.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Orlando Magic
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)

F Chuma Okeke
2021 (ORL): 45 GP, 7.8 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.1 SPG, 42 FG%, 35 3PT%, 75 FT%, 11.8 PER, 51 TS%, 1.3 WS, .056 WS48

Okeke is a solid, versatile combo forward that had a decent rookie season.  He primarily excelled as a rebounder and defender, and he also showed off some shooting and playmaking skills.  He will need to improve his ability to score and create his own shot, but he is a solid role player that projects to be a 3 and D role player for Orlando next season.

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Orlando Magic
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)

F Otto Porter
2021 (CHI/ORL): 28 GP, 9.7 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.0 APG, 43 FG%, 38 3PT%, 86 FT%, 14.5 PER, 55 TS%, 1.3 WS, .101 WS48

He’s been a fairly solid, but oft-injured role player for the past several seasons now.  He is a solid offensive role player that can shoot and pass, and he also rebounds the ball well, but he’s been a fairly average defensive player.  He can provide some scoring punch and some rebounding off the bench, but he will need to stay healthy in order to prolong his production for a full season in the NBA.

2021 Season Grade: B- (B w/CHI, D w/ORL)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Porter will be an impending UFA at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

F James Ennis
2021 (ORL): 41 GP, 8.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.5 APG, 47 FG%, 43 3PT%, 80 FT%, 12.5 PER, 61 TS%, 2.0 WS, .097 WS48

James Ennis excelled as a sharpshooter in his role this season, and he also was quite active as a rebounder when he was on the floor.  He’s provided a solid veteran presence, and he will likely be a rotation player on an NBA team next season.

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Ennis will be an impending UFA at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

G R.J. Hampton
2021 (DEN/ORL): 51 GP, 6.9 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.7 APG, 43 FG%, 31 3PT%, 67 FT%, 11.1 PER, 51 TS%, 0.4 WS, .021 WS48

Hampton is a very athletic combo guard that was traded midseason to Orlando.  He rebounded the ball well, especially for a player his size, and he also can operate as a secondary ball mover.  He didn’t shoot nor defend well, but he is a promising young player that has plenty of upside, and there may be minutes for him as he will be with the Magic next season.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Orlando Magic
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2.5 stars potential)

C Moritz Wagner
2021 (WAS/BOS/ORL): 45 GP, 6.9 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.1 APG, 45 FG%, 34 3PT%, 82 FT%, 12.5 PER, 58 TS%, 1.2 WS, .082 WS48

Wagner shot the ball well for the Wizards and for the Magic, but he didn’t shoot well for the Celtics in his audition to try to make the playoff roster with them.  He’s not a particularly great rebounder or interior defender, but his ability to shoot and pass the ball allows him to be a capable backup big man in the NBA.

2021 Season Grade: C+ (B w/WAS, F w/BOS, C w/ORL)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Fringe roster player, possible back end rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

Wagner Will be an impending UFA at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

F Ignas Brazdeikis
2021 (NYK/PHI/ORL): 13 GP, 7.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.3 APG, 42 FG%, 39 3PT%, 71 FT%, 9.5 PER, 51 TS%, 0.1 WS, .016 WS48
2021 (G-League): 12 GP, 20.8 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 3.6 APG, 47 FG%, 26 3PT%, 80 FT%, 19.7 PER, 57 TS%, 0.6 WS, .065 WS48

After not having done much in the NBA for the first 1 ½ years of his career, Brazdeikis finally found his stride in Orlando.  He excelled as a shooter, scorer, facilitator, and rebounder for them, and he was able to show that he can capably play in the NBA.  It is uncertain if he will stay with them as he will be a free agent, but Brazdeikis could be due for more minutes next season.

2021 Season Grade: A- (D- w/NYK, F w/PHI, A w/ORL)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Fringe roster player, possible back end rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

Brazdeikis will be an impending UFA at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

G Michael Carter-Williams
2021 (ORL): 31 GP, 8.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 4.2 APG, 39 FG%, 25 3PT%, 61 FT%, 9.5 PER, 45 TS%, -0.5 WS, -.028 WS48

Michael Carter-Williams turned in a very disappointing season, as he really struggled with his jump shot, and he didn’t shoot nor defend particularly well this season.  He is a tall playmaking point guard that can reliably run the team, and his size allows him to pluck rebounds to help get his team defensive boards. 

However, his lack of a jump shot combined with the aging process may make it difficult for him to keep his team in his team’s rotation next season.

2021 Season Grade: F+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Fringe roster player, possible back end rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

G-F Dwayne Bacon
2021 (ORL): 72 GP, 10.9 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 1.3 APG, 40 FG%, 29 3PT%, 82 FT%, 9.9 PER, 49 TS%, 0.5 WS, .013 WS48

After having an abysmal season last year with Charlotte, Bacon managed to latch on with Orlando, and he was pretty much a full-time starter for them this past season.  He didn’t really do anything particularly well, but he managed to get lots of playing time, and it basically helped Orlando tank and get a high draft pick in the 2021 draft. 

Bacon is an athletic swingman, but he doesn’t really do any one thing particularly well, and he is a fringe roster player in the NBA.

2021 Season Grade: D
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Fringe roster player, possible back end rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

Bacon is on a non-guaranteed contract for the 2021-22 season.

G-F Sindarius Thornwell (Two-Way)
2021 (NOP/ORL): 21 GP, 2.0 PPG, 1.0 APG, 33 FG%, 30 3PT%, 50 FT%, 6.6 PER, 0 WS, .009 WS48

Thornwell’s strong play in the Orlando bubble was enough for him to land a regular-season roster spot with New Orleans this season, but he didn’t play particularly well this season.  He provided above average defense, but that didn’t wash out his bad shooting and lack of rebounding this year.  Currently, he is a fringe roster player that at best can be a 3 and D player off the bench in the NBA.

2021 Season Grade: D-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Fringe roster player, possible back end rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

G Chasson Randle (Two-Way)
2021 (ORL): 41 GP, 6.5 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 1.8 APG, 39 FG%, 34 3PT%, 79 FT%, 7.4 PER, 52 TS%, 0 WS, -.001 WS48

Randle was able to get some playing time with the Magic this year, but he didn’t really stand out in any sort of way.  At best, he’s a floor spacing playmaker that can run the team, at worst, he’s not a player that should be on the floor in games.  He’s a fringe roster player that will compete for a roster spot and playing time next season.

2021 Season Grade: D
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Fringe roster player, possible back end rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

No Longer with the Team:

F-C Donta Hall
2021 (ORL): 13 GP, 5.6 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 71 FG%, 22.3 PER, 73 TS%, 0.8 WS, .223 WS48
2021 (G-League): 12 GP, 10.2 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 2.1 BPG, 1.5 APG, 63 FG%, 73 FT%, 23.0 PER, 68 TS%, 1.3 WS, .213 WS48

Though Hall didn’t make enough of an impression on the Magic, he actually played very well in limited minutes when he was in the NBA.  He excelled as a finisher, rebounder, and interior defender, and he definitely showed that he is worthy of getting more playing time in this league.

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Fringe roster player, possible back end rotation player in the NBA (or very good starter in the G-League)
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

F Robert Franks
2021 (ORL): 7 GP, 6.1 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 46 FG%, 33 3PT%, 92 FT%, 16.5 PER, 64 TS%, 0.3 WS, .158 WS48
2021 (G-League): 14 GP, 12.1 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.5 APG, 51 FG%, 36 3PT%, 78 FT%, 16.3 PER, 66 TS%, 0.8 WS, .115 WS48

Franks is a mobile, skilled combo forward that can shoot and score the basketball.  His ability to stretch the floor combined with his scoring and playmaking skills enabled him to be an effective contributor for the Magic in his brief time up there.  However, he’s also sort of a tweener, as he doesn’t seem to defend well enough to get consistent playing time at the three at the NBA level, but he may be too undersized to play heavy minutes at the four.  Still, if he’s making shots though, he could carve out a role as a Mike Scott-type of player in this league.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Fringe roster player, possible back end rotation player in the NBA (or solid starter in the G-League)
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

G Frank Mason
2021 (ORL): 4 GP, 6.3 PPG, 3.0 APG, 3.0 RPG, 38 FG%, 40 3PT%, 71 FT%, 7.5 PER, 46 TS%, 0 WS, -.018 WS48

The former G-League MVP played a few games for the Magic this past season, but he apparently didn’t make enough of an impression.  While he flashed a solid outside shot, and showed that he can pass and rebound the basketball, he struggled to make shots inside the arc as he wasn’t particularly effective as a scorer, and he also didn’t defend well in his brief time with the Magic.

2021 Season Grade: D
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Fringe roster player, possible back end rotation player in the NBA (or very good starter in the G-League)
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

G Devin Cannady
2021 (ORL): 4.3 PPG, 39 FG%, 38 3PT%, 86 FT%, 11.2 PER, 55 TS%, 0.1 WS, .057 WS48
2021 (G-League): 13 GP, 11.7 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 2.7 APG, 43 FG%, 40 3PT%, 100 FT%, 14.5 PER, 57 TS%, 0.7 WS, .106 WS48

The 2021 G-League Finals MVP was well deserving of a call-up to the NBA.  It’s just that it was sort of disappointing that they didn’t give him long enough of a shot to stick around for the whole season.

He is a skilled combo guard that can shoot and score the basketball, and he also played solid defense in his brief time up in the NBA.  He didn’t pass the ball that much, and for a 6-2 guard, it’ll be important for him to show that he can successfully run the point at that level.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Fringe roster player, possible back end rotation player in the NBA (or solid starter in the G-League)
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

G Jordan Bone
2021 (ORL): 14 GP, 4.0 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 1.3 APG, 43 FG%, 31 3PT%, 8.9 PER, 52 TS%, 0.2 WS, .045 WS48
2021 (G-League): 15 GP, 11.5 PPG, 3.8 APG, 3.1 RPG, 1.7 SPG, 38 FG%, 34 3PT%, 87 FT%, 14.4 PER, 51 TS%, 0.5 WS, .062 WS48

Jordan Bone didn’t make enough of an impression to stick it out the entire year on a two-way contract with the Magic, but he is a very athletic playmaker that can rebound the basketball.  He didn’t really bring much to the table at the NBA level, but his ability to run the team combined with his defensive potential could enable him to compete for a roster spot in this league next year.

2021 Season Grade: D-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Fringe roster player, possible back end rotation player in the NBA (or role player in the G-League)
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1 star (1.5 stars potential)

G Karim Mané
2021 (ORL): 10 GP, 1.1 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 23 FG%, 50 3PT%, 80 FT%, 1.3 PER, 36 TS%, -0.1 WS, -.045 WS48
2021 (G-League): 15 GP, 5.5 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 2.0 APG, 34 FG%, 10 3PT%, 36 FT%, 4.9 PER, 37 TS%, -0.5 WS, -.076 WS48

He is a very athletic combo guard that was always going to be a project player in the NBA, because he didn’t particularly shoot very well in the U19 World Cup or at Vanier College, and he played at such a low level that was far away from the NBA.  His only positives at the NBA level were that he played, and that he made threes at a solid rate, but that is because he attempted so few threes to do so.

Mané played very poorly both in the NBA and in the G-League, and it was both a bit of a surprise and sort of impressive that he played in the NBA and stuck around for as long as he has.  He is probably one of the worst players to have played in the NBA this past season, and he will need to play somewhere where he can get heavy minutes in another league, whether if it is in the G-League, overseas, or in a lower-tier league in the United States.

2021 Season Grade: F+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Free Agent/Fringe rotation player in the NBA G-League
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 0.5 stars (2 star potential)

Their 2020-21 Head Coach:
Steve Clifford
2021 (ORL): 21-51, did not make the playoffs
Coaching Career: 292-345, 5-16 in his playoff career

The Orlando Magic were expected to contend for a playoff spot this season, but they lost a lot of games early, and they ended up tearing the team down to start an early rebuilding process.  They didn’t particularly shoot or defend well as a team, and they just sort of handed playing time to a lot of young players without really emphasizing efficiency on either end of the floor. 

Clifford has never gotten out of the first round as an NBA head coach, and while he is a defensive minded coach, his offenses tend to really feature one player rather than focus on the team system.  I’m not really sure if he should be the coach for the Magic in the long run, especially since the Magic has never really had a fluid motion offense system where players can shoot, pass, and score off the ball.

Update: He’s been fired since, and the Orlando Magic will be looking to hire a new head coach. He would have been given a hot seat designation if they had kept him around, as he would’ve ranked as one of the worst head coaches in the NBA for next season.

2021 Season Grade: D-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Head coach or assistant coach somewhere, or TV analyst
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

A Brief Summary of the 2020-21 Orlando Magic’s Season:

Prior to the start of the season, the Magic seemed like they were trying to contend for a playoff spot, but the wheels fell off, and they lost a lot of games early and often.  They then traded their best player, Nikola Vucevic and Al-Farouq Aminu to the Chicago Bulls for Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr., and two first-round draft picks to speed up their rebuilding process. 

At the very least, they will likely get two top 10 picks in the 2021 draft, so that will be something they should be very excited about.

The 2020-21 Orlando Magic’s Season Grade: D

The Orlando Magic’s Projected 2021-22 NBA Rotation

Projected Starters:
C Wendell Carter Jr.
F Jonathan Isaac
The 5th Overall Pick of the 2021 Draft
G Terrence Ross
G Markelle Fultz

Key Reserves:
G Cole Anthony
The 8th Overall Pick of the 2021 Draft
F Chuma Okeke

Others competing for a spot in the rotation next season:
G Gary Harris
C Mo Bamba
G R.J. Hampton
G Michael Carter-Williams
The 33th Overall Pick of the 2021 Draft

Impending Unrestricted Free Agents:
Otto Porter Jr. – Not Expected Back
Moritz Wagner – Not Expected Back
James Ennis – Not Expected Back
Ignas Brazdeikis – Not Expected Back
Dwayne Bacon – Not Expected Back

Projected Players Cut From Next Season’s Roster:
G Chasson Randle (Two-Way)
G-F Sindarius Thornwell (Two-Way)

Projected Offseason Plan for the Magic:
The Orlando Magic might have some money to spend, so they could use that to acquire wing players and another point guard in order to bolster their roster.  They also could look to add a veteran big man off the bench that could push Bamba and compete for playing time.

They should continue to build through the draft in the meantime.  They have two top 10 draft picks, and they also have a high second round pick, and if they draft well, they could end up with three impact players next season.  The Magic needs talented players, and there are some talented players they could get in the draft.

The 2022 Orlando Magic’s Expected Win-Loss Record, Projected 2022 Season Finish:
25-57, 15th in the Eastern Conference

Expected 2022 Season Outcome:
The Orlando Magic are likely going to finish at or near the bottom of the standings, and they will likely be one of the worst teams in the NBA next season.

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