The Orlando Magic were the catalyst for the NBA trade deadline, as they dealt away three of their five starters: Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, and Nikola Vucevic.
Meanwhile, Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac, the other two starters for the Magic (were everyone healthy this season) are both out injured for the year.
So, who actually plays for the Magic now that their starters don’t?
Here’s their depth chart and their ESPN rostered percentages:
- Michael Carter-Williams (5% rostered ESPN leagues), RJ Hampton (0.3%), and Cole Anthony (11%, out injured) at the point
- Terrence Ross (43%), Dwayne Bacon (0.9%), Gary Harris (2.5%, currently injured again), Otto Porter, Jr. (31%, who may get bought out), James Ennis III (1.4%), and Chuma Okeke (0.4%) on the perimeter and at forward
- Wendell Carter, Jr. (33.6%), Khem Birch (1%), and Mo Bamba (3.7%) up front
Most of these guys haven’t been worth rostering this season, and it’s not certain how many will be for the rest of the year. However, as I like to say, minutes are like water, they make everything else grow. SOMEONE on the Magic has to get minutes and shots, right?
Ross is now their Old Man, and he’ll continue to start at the two. His shot portfolio might increase dramatically as he takes on a larger role (once he’s back from his knee injury, since he is, of course, out right now, but could return this weekend). He’ll probably be over 50% rostered by Monday.
My gut says that Orlando will want to give their young players as much as they can handle. That should mean that players like their rookie point guard, Cole Anthony, get a TON of minutes, but he is, obviously, out injured! This leaves PG minutes for MCW (who is NOT efficient, but who gets you moderate counting stats by default) and rookie R.J. Hampton, who the Magic took back in their trade with Denver. Hampton should be rostered as much as MCW, I think, and if the Magic like what they see, then he could start over Carter-Williams.
Golden Gary Harris, whose shine has greatly diminished in recent years, is out due to injury, but if and when he returns, I predict Orlando gives him some run, mainly due to the fact that his salary is large and the Magic should like his perimeter defense. If he regains any of his former offensive acumen, then he could be an asset down the line. He’s not worth rostering right now, though.
Chuma Okeke is interesting, and he may get the majority of the power forward minutes going forward, unless the team decides to run Wendell Carter, Jr. and Mo Bamba on the court at the same time. Speaking of which, pick up Carter, Jr. if he’s available. He should get close to thirty minutes per game going forward (I would think), as he’s a young player with pedigree, and honestly, what the hell else can the Magic do?
MCW, RJ Hampton, Terrence Ross, Chuma Okeke, and Wendell Carter, Jr. is probably a lineup we’ll see a lot of in Orlando, until Cole Anthony returns. If the Magic don’t buy out Otto Porter, then he’ll get minutes, too, I suppose, but probably not to the detriment of the youth.
If you have a roster spot to burn, I’d advise picking up the young guards or the young big. Hampton, Anthony, and Carter, Jr. should all see plenty of minutes (if, BIG IF, they’re healthy), and their counting stats will ascend accordingly. The efficiency probably won’t be there, but you’d be adding them for dynasty reasons, or for cheap counting stats for the rest of this season.
Orlando is the second worst team in the East today, and they could end the season as THE worst. The boon of the Magic’s bust is that players on bad teams still deliver volume, just at reduced cost. These aren’t necessarily good players on a bad team; they’re young players on a bad team. The rest of this season will be a dress rehearsal for next year: which of these players will fit with Fultz and Isaac? Any of them? All of them?
Keep your eye on the Magic. Again, someone’s gotta play, right?