Orlando Magic season preview
This preview originally appeared in our 2023-24 VSiN NBA Betting Guide, which was released on Thursday, October 5. To become a VSiN Pro subscriber and get all of our NBA coverage throughout the season, click here.
Magic Betting Odds
NBA Finals: +30000
Win Total: 36.5
Playoffs: Yes (+165)
After beginning last season with a 5-20 record through 25 games, the Magic ended up finishing the year at 34-48. That means that Orlando went 29-28 after that lousy early-season stretch, and this team feels like it’s very close to playing winning basketball over the course of a full season. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if it happens this year.
Orlando was just 18th in the NBA in defensive rating in 2022-23. But after those first 25 games, the Magic were sixth in the league in that category. Third-year head coach Jamal Mosley has seamlessly gotten his young team to compete at a high level on that end of the floor, which is never an easy task. And it was only amplified after the slow start.
The Magic now enter the new season hoping to be in the top 10 in defensive efficiency for the entire year. And it shouldn’t be all that hard for them to do it. Markelle Fultz is a solid point-of-attack defender, and he’s good for a highlight-reel block every other night. Franz Wagner looks like he’ll be one of the best multi-positional defenders in the league very soon. And Wendell Carter Jr. is one of the better help defenders in basketball at the center position, even if he doesn’t quite rack up blocks. He seems to always be in the right place, and he’s better at defending the perimeter than most on switches. With those three in the starting lineup, the team will continue to be tough to score on.
Orlando then has young guys like Anthony Black and Jalen Suggs to disrupt opposing guards. And Jonathan Isaac was one of the more versatile defenders in basketball before injuries derailed his career. If he can come close to returning to full strength, there won’t be many members of this rotation that can’t hold their own defensively. Even vets like Gary Harris and Joe Ingles know how to hold their own as team defenders.
The question with the Magic is whether they can take a step forward offensively. Only four teams in basketball had a worse offensive rating than Orlando last season, and a big part of the reason for that is that only four teams made fewer threes per game than the Magic. Jacking up threes isn’t a requirement in the NBA, but teams that don’t shoot well from behind the three-point line put themselves at a big mathematical disadvantage. So, Orlando will be hoping that drafting Jett Howard, who shot 36.8% from deep on 7.3 attempts per game, and signing Ingles, a career 40.8% three-point shooter, will help with spacing. The Magic are also banking on some of the young guys to continue working on their jumpers.
The bright side for Orlando is that Wagner and second-year forward Paolo Banchero have the goods offensively. They look like one of the league’s best young duos and they’re going to terrorize opponents for the next decade.
Wagner is a smooth-shooting wing who can handle the ball, and he utilizes his length and savvy footwork to get himself to the rim. He averaged 18.6 points per game in 2022-23, and he should hit the 20-point mark this season. Wagner looked like a future star playing for Germany in the FIBA World Cup, and he’ll now try to carry that momentum into the season. Meanwhile, Banchero averaged 20.0 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game as a rookie last season. Mosley recently said that the forward is a combination of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Jayson Tatum. Given he’s 6-foot-10 with a massive frame and the ability to score and facilitate, it isn’t hard to see why Mosley believes that. Banchero is a load to defend in half-court situations, and he’s a terror in transition. If the former Duke star ever develops a jumper, then look out.
Fultz is also a player that can be impossible to guard. Sure, his jumper is pretty much nonexistent at this point, but he’s a walking paint touch with his ability to attack the rim. That’s a luxury that not many teams have at the point guard position.
All in all, the pieces are in place for Orlando to become a top-20 offense this season. And with the way the team defends, that’d likely be good enough for the Magic to be a profitable team to bet on. They were actually 45-35-2 ATS last season, but this year’s group has loftier goals. And Orlando also happens to be armed with trade assets, which means the team could potentially upgrade before the trade deadline.
Win Total Analysis
Not only do I like the Magic to go Over their win total this season, but I also think I’d play some alternate Overs on them. You can get Orlando at nearly +200 odds to go Over 39.5 wins this year, and I think 40 wins is well within reason for this team. I’ll personally be going up to 40.5 at odds north of +200, and I also like Orlando’s odds of making the postseason.
The Magic are one of the best-kept secrets in basketball right now, but it won’t be long before casual fans start to realize how good the Wagner-Banchero duo is. And once Orlando arrives, it’ll be quite some time before the team is irrelevant again. This team has been openly speaking of its desire to be a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference, and I admire the confidence. I’m not quite sure the Magic will achieve that goal, but I do think avoiding the Play-In Tournament is a real possibility.
Win Total Recommendation: OVER 36.5