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NBA: Orlando Magic season preview

Orlando Magic finished in last place in the Eastern Conference last year with a woeful 22-60 overall record and they will be hoping for a better showing in 2022/23.

Orlando had the first overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft and selected Duke forward Paolo Banchero, who should be able to slot straight into their starting line-up.

It has been two years since the Magic reached the playoffs and they have only been involved in the postseason twice in the last 10 years.

It seems unlikely that they will be able to reach the playoffs in the coming campaign but they should at least be more competitive as they continue a rebuild project with the focus on youth.

WhatNBA Season 2022/23
WhereUSA and Canada
When18th October 2022 - June 2023
How to watchSky Sports, NBA Pass, bet365's Sports Live Streaming
OddsGS Warriors +600, MIL Bucks +650, BOS Celtics +700, LA Clippers +700, BKN Nets +700

Banchero looks ready for the NBA

Banchero declared for the draft after just one season in college basketball, helping them reach the Final Four in Mike Krzyzewski's final season in charge.

Most analysts expected Banchero to end up at Houston Rockets as the third pick but Orlando made the surprise move to bring him in with their first pick and the initial signs suggest they made the correct call.

The 20-year-old featured in the Summer League but played just two games for Orlando before being withdrawn from the offseason event.

Coach Jamahl Mosley revealed he had seen enough over the course of those two games to know that Banchero was ready for the league.

"His understanding of what he needs to do in certain situations, the concepts that we're preaching offensively and defensively, he's grasping on to those," Mosley told ESPN during the summer.

The Magic also selected forward/guard Caleb Houstan with the 32nd overall pick and he should also be able to make an impact in the season ahead.

Houstan scored 20 points in his Summer League debut, shooting 5-for-9 from three-point range, but he may have to settle for a role as a bench player in his rookie season.

Big season ahead for Suggs

Orlando had big hopes for Jalen Suggs going into last season after he was selected with the fifth overall pick in the 2021 draft, but injuries impacted his campaign and he was limited to just 45 appearances.

Suggs clearly has plenty of potential and the Gonzaga product should be able to kick on further in the coming campaignafter an underwhelming rookie season.

Banchero, Suggs, Markelle Fultz, Franz Wagner and Wendell Carter Jr appears to be Orlando's best starting line-up as the new season approaches, although Jonathan Isaac will challenge for a starting spot as the campaign progresses having returned from a lengthy injury lay off.

Guy Harris and Mo Bamba provide further options if Mosley decides to adopt a different approach, but as a starting five the above line-up looks to have plenty of potential offensively and this is a team that can grow together.

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How the season starts

Orlando's start to the new season should give an indication of what they can achieve this year as they come up against a few key rivals early on.

The Magic start with a trip to Detroit Pistons, who finished one place above them in the East last season, before a trip to division rivals Atlanta Hawks.

Orlando's first home game is against last season's beaten finalists Boston Celtics in what looks a tough assignment and they then travel to New York Knicks.

Orlando take on Cleveland Cavaliers (a) and Charlotte Hornets (h) before the end of October, meaning they will play two teams who missed out on the postseason altogether and three who finished in the play-in spots in the East in their first six games.

If Orlando are going to make any kind of statement this year those are the types of games they need to win, so two or three victories in those opening rounds of games would have to be viewed as a positive start.

Orlando Magic 2022/23 expectations

The Magic won just 22 games last year, meaning they finished 21 games behind the play-in places and 24 behind the automatic playoff spots in the East.

Improving on that win total and developing players like Banchero and Suggs will be their target and the best they could really hope for is gatecrashing the play-in spots - but even that appears unlikely.

That is reflected in their odds and they are +1200 to reach the playoffs.

That doesn't mean there aren't reasons for optimism in Orlando, however, as Banchero is considered a +180 shot to win the Rookie of the Year award, while Suggs is +4000 to win the Most Improved Player honour.

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