In many ways, it was appropriate for the Orlando Magic and Detroit Pistons to open their 2022-23 seasons against each other.
The Magic drafted the No. 1 pick in June’s NBA draft in Paolo Banchero while the Pistons selected Cade Cunningham with last year’s top pick.
Both started rebuilds in the last 2 1/2 years, have several younger talented players surrounding their top picks and are among the league’s top-four youngest teams.
“I’m not, based on one game, measuring where we are,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said pregame. “We’re at the same level as far as where we’re at the rebuild so to speak. Whatever happens, it doesn’t determine who the Magic are going to be and who the Pistons are and who they’re going to be. It’s a good test for both groups because we’re very similar in where we are in our programs.”
The Magic and Pistons finished 15th and 14th, respectively, in the Eastern Conference’s standings last season but are optimistic about their futures.
Surrounding Banchero are young talents such as Franz Wagner, who was named to the league’s All-Rookie first team in 2021-22, Wendell Carter Jr., who’s coming off a breakout season and Jalen Suggs, last year’s No. 5 pick.
The Pistons used two lottery picks to draft Jaden Ivey (No. 5) and Jalen Duren (No. 13) over the summer.
“They’ve got great young talent,” coach Jamahl Mosley said pregame. “They’ve done a great job through the draft and developing their guys to become great young players. Similar to us, we’ve got great young talent. These guys are bonding and coming together, which is a wonderful thing to see.”
Starting guard Cole Anthony was ruled out for Wednesday’s season-opener against the Detroit Pistons because of an illness less than 30 minutes before tipoff.
Anthony was originally in the Magic’s starting lineup alongside Terrence Ross, Wagner, Banchero and Carter Jr. before being ruled out.
Suggs replaced Anthony as a starter.
Caleb Houstan, Bol Bol, Mo Bamba and Chuma Okeke were part of the Magic’s nine-man rotation in the first half.
Markelle Fultz (fractured left big toe), Gary Harris (left knee rehabilitation), Jonathan Isaac (left knee rehabilitation) and Moe Wagner (sprained right midfoot) sat.
“I think we will keep feeling that out,” Mosley said of the rotation, “to help these guys understand that we want them to get a rhythm for what’s going on in the games.”
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.