With the 2022-23 NBA season approaching, the Orlando Sentinel is unveiling a five-part series of Orlando Magic storylines to keep an eye on heading into training camp, which tips off Tuesday at their new state-of-the-art AdventHealth Training Center. Part one addressed whether the Magic did enough to turn around their shooting woes, part two focused on injury-related questions, and part three touched on the rookies.
Part Four: Lineup Experimentation
For most NBA teams, training camp and the preseason are about experimentation and trying new things out.
Expect that to especially be the case for the Magic in 2022-23, even once the regular season starts.
The Magic had three five-man lineups played at least 100 minutes in 2021-22, led by their starting lineup for most of the season that played 424 minutes: Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Wendell Carter, Jr. and Mo Bamba.
Having three lineups that shared the floor for at least 100 minutes was standard for most teams last season because of absences related to injuries and the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
Player availability was an issue throughout last season for Orlando, which had the most games missed (449) because of injuries and the league’s health and safety protocols, according to ManGamesLost.com, an injury analytics website.
Markelle Fultz, who projects to be one of the Magic’s starting guards in 2022-23, wasn’t a part of any of those aforementioned lineups after missing most of 2021-22 before returning from a torn left anterior cruciate ligament in late February.
Jonathan Isaac, who’s missed the last two seasons after tearing his left ACL in August 2020, has only played alongside three current Magic players: Bamba, Fultz and Terrence Ross.
With the Magic entering camp healthier than they’ve been in a while, coach Jamahl Mosley will have more lineup options to test out as Orlando enters its second full season since kicking off a rebuild in March 2021 centered around younger talent.
The Magic are in player-evaluation mode, with a significant part of those evaluations being not only how the younger players progress but also which lineup combinations work best and which ones don’t.
Part of the Magic’s lineup experimentation will also come from needing to get their best players on the floor at the same time.
“You forget how big these guys are,” Mosley said on the Magic’s official podcast, Pod Squad. “You look at our line: Bol Bol, Mo Bamba, Wendell, Moe Wagner, Paolo, Franz — Jalen’s big, Markelle’s big. You have size. With these guys being able to have length, strength and physical ability, you have a chance to disrupt a lot of teams in different ways. That’s why putting this puzzle together’s going to be fun. That’s why I’m so excited about camp.”
Orlando played multiple lineups with two bigs on the floor together.
With the addition of Paolo Banchero, the No. 1 pick in June’s NBA draft, to a roster that includes Carter, Bamba, Isaac, Bol Bol, Franz Wagner, Moe Wagner and Chuma Okeke, there may be a need to play more supersized lineups.
There’s an array of possibilities, including two bigger forwards, such as Franz, Banchero or Okeke, sharing the floor with two bigs.
In 2021-22, the Magic tried out a fair amount of three-guard units or even smaller lineups that included Okeke as the center.
This season, they could lean on bigger groups more.
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.