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Magic in the Air: How Orlando Become a Force in the NBA Eastern Conference Heading Into Playoffs

Portland Trail Blazers v Orlando Magic

(Photo : (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)) ORLANDO, FLORIDA – APRIL 01: The Orlando Magic huddle during a game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Kia Center on April 01, 2024 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.

After finishing last season 34-48, the Orlando Magic are fighting for the second seed in the NBA Eastern Conference with just four games remaining in the season; potentially having their first 50-win season since the Dwight Howard era. 

This season, the Magic have been a major feel-good story and emerged as a force in the Eastern Conference, thanks to great coaching and player development.

With the Milwaukee Bucks faltering and the Magic gaining momentum, it’s easy to see Orlando snagging the second seed from Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. 

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Orlando Magic: Young Core 

The Orlando Magic’s remarkable success this season can largely be attributed to the promising young roster they have assembled.

Some of the players on their roster are 25 years old or younger. Still, they have found a way to win games despite their lack of experience. 

Paolo Banchero, the 2022 No.1 overall pick, has had an All-Star year in just his second NBA season. 

Banchero increased his averages to 22.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game while shooting 46.1% from the field. In increasing his point totals and shot percentage from his rookie season, Paolo has continued to blossom into a superstar.

Paolo Banchero has become one of the few players in NBA history to have won the Rookie of the Year award and make an All-Star team in his first two seasons in the NBA.   

Franz Wagner has continued to play a pivotal role for this Orlando Magic team, averaging 19.6 points per game this season. Wagner has served as a reliant secondary option behind Banchero. 

After a disappointing start to his career, Jalen Suggs has found his groove with the Magic, proving to be a key player whose impact can be felt on both sides of the floor.

Moritz Wagner, Wendell Carter Jr., Cole Anthony, and Markelle Fultz have all done great jobs rounding out this good Orlando Magic team so far this season.

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Orlando Magic: Scrappy Identity 

More importantly, this team has an identity. The Orlando Magic are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. Under head coach Jamahl Mosley, Orlando has turned into a defensive juggernaut, posting a defensive rating of 110.6, which makes them the third-best defensive team in the league.  

They have done an excellent job in closing on 3-point shots, ranking fourth in opponents’ makes and ninth in opponents’ percentage. 

Orlando Magic: Right Rotation 

Mosley has rolled a lineup featuring Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, Wendell Carter Jr., Jalen Suggs, and Gary Harris over the last month, giving the Orlando Magic an outstanding balance of defense and scoring. 

That lineup has given the Magic some good momentum as they race towards the end of the NBA season.

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How do the Orlando Magic Stack Up to the Rest of the Teams in the East?

On the one hand, the Orlando Magic have a young roster compared to the Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks, who are both older ball clubs.

Compared to the Cleveland Cavaliers, they’re both young rosters with plenty of upside that haven’t done anything in the playoffs just yet.

This year, NBA teams may be shocked if the Orlando Magic could go on a playoff run with their youthful team after missing the NBA Playoffs just a year ago.

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