NBA Fantasy Tiers: Orlando Magic Players
Orlando Magic, 14-6, 1st in Southeast Division
Dec 5 - Dec 11 games: @ Cleveland, vs. Detroit, vs. Cleveland
Per game stats 2023: 114.3 PPG, 43.8 REB, 25.7 AST, 8.8 STL, 5.6 BLK, 47.5 FG%, 35.4 3PT%, 77.0 FT%
Players to watch - 2023 season averages
SF Franz Wagner - 20.7 PPG, 5.8 REB, 3.5 AST
PF Paolo Banchero - 19.5 PPG, 6.9 REB, 4.9 AST
PG Cole Anthony - 15.2 PPG, 4.6 REB, 3.6 AST
Are the Orlando Magic a top show in the NBA or is it all smoke and mirrors? The Magic are 14-6, first in the Southeast, and winners of nine of their last 10 games. Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero pace the scoring for the Magic, with PG Cole Anthony adding good productivity for his minutes on the floor.
For all their success though, statistically, Orlando is pretty middling, i.e. their PPG, REB, AST and shooting percentages are all about average. The team assist-to-turnover ratio is a little low at 1.7:1, but team steals are a little above average at 8.8 per game. Nobody on the Magic averages a double-double, nor does there seem to be a single-star player, but rather a grouping of quality pieces.
Paolo Banchero is the best shooter on the Magic, averaging 48.1 FG% and 41.2 3PT% for the season. Franz Wagner is the next best field goal shooter, while Anthony and SG Jalen Suggs are a little above average from three-point land. Banchero also checks in as Orlando’s top defender based on STL + BLK per game of 1.7.
This week’s Orlando Magic schedule features a home and away series against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and an extra home game versus the Detroit Pistons. It’s not the toughest three-game stretch Orlando will have this year but it does come at a crucial point as we round the quarterway point in the regular season.
How will the Orlando Magic and their key players do this week? Let’s get into with a look at every matchup, and spotlight one player who needs a standout performance each game.
@ Cleveland Cavaliers, December 6th
On December 6, the Magic will travel to challenge the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are 11-9 and second in the Central Division. The Cavs are led by SG Donovan Mitchell who brings better than 27 PPG. PF Evan Mobley chips in 16 PPG and 11 REB but is a bit turnover-prone. All of the Cavs' best 3PT shooters are depth guys; Craig Porter may be the most reliable. The Cavs have won 3 of their last 4 overall, and 2 of their last 5 at home.
Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell is a solid bet to play big at home after some rest. That’s going to put a lot of pressure on Orlando’s own shooters to respond, making this a prime game for Franz Wagner to get his shot working. While Wagner’s rebound totals are up in 2023, his 3PT% has actually dipped by a couple of points versus 2022. On the bottom line, he has scored double-digit points in every game this season. But on a game-to-game basis, he is unpredictable from beyond the arc. He’ll need to be good on the night for the Magic to keep pace in this one.
vs. Detroit Pistons, December 8th
On December 8, the Detroit Pistons will travel south to meet the Magic in Orlando in a game in which the home team can expect to be heavily favored. The Pistons, 2-18 and fifth in the Central Division, ain’t good. The men from Motor City have a stat line of 109.2 PPG, 45.5 REB, 26.4 AST, 6.1 STL, 5.6 BLK, 46.2 FG%, 34.8 3PT%, 79.8 FT%. The Pistons' assist-to-turnover ratio is highly suspect at 1.6:1 (Alec Burks and Killian Hayes are particularly woeful). C Jalen Duren is probably the Pistons best overall player (12 PPG, 11 REB); rookie SF Ausar Thompson is near a double-double on the season (11 PPG, 9 REB). That said, there is no star on this team, and they are ripe for picking.
Enter Orlando Magic PG Cole Anthony. Though he technically has no starts in 2023, Anthony is nonetheless Orlando’s top option to bring the ball up the court. He is not a special player but he is a solid one and Anthony is quite capable of winning a matchup against any PG that the Pistons can put on the floor, including Hayes or Cade Cunningham. I look for Cole Anthony to step up in this game, score more efficiently, and reduce turnovers, as he has in the last few games. This is a perfect game for him to shine.
vs Cleveland Cavaliers, December 11th
Finally, on December 11, the Magic wrap their week and their mini-series against the Cavaliers at home in Orlando where the Magic have won six in a row. There’s no point rehashing the matchups - they’re the same as they were on December 6th - but the fact this one is at home may be enough to tilt the floor in Orlando’s favor. It will also help if their best player shows up to play, though he’ll need help.
Paolo Banchero is a uniquely gifted basketball player. In another couple of years, the former #1 overall may be among the league’s finest power forwards. But he is a little sporadic as a shooter just yet and his rebounding is inconsistent. That said, Banchero is a little bit better at home and he is coming off a hot November, shooting 50.2 FG% and 47.8 3PT%. If Banchero can keep the pace at home against the Cavaliers, the Orlando Magic have a good chance to split their two matchups on the week.
With just three games over a seven-day window, two of those at home, and none against an opponent with a winning record, the Orlando Magic seem poised for a good week, but there are challenges to meet.
On December 6, Franz Wagner and the Magic will get their first taste of the Cleveland Cavaliers in a road game. On December 8, the Magic return home to face a struggling Pistons squad; Cole Anthony has every opportunity to play one of his best games of the year in this one. Finally, on December 11, the Magic get the Cavaliers again for the back half of the short home and away series.
I like the Magic to split games with the Cavs this week and beat the Pistons head-to-head. In your fantasy tiers, PF Paolo Banchero is worth a look as a week-long asset who is capable of significant numbers each game night. In general, look for Magic players to go big against the Pistons on December 8th.
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