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The Rise of the Orlando Magic

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The Orlando Magic have shocked the world this season, as they are 12-5 and 2nd place in the Eastern Conference. Orlando is just one game behind the Boston Celtics for the one seed in the East.

The Magic have a young roster with a ton of talent. They are led by Paolo Banchero, who won the Rookie of the Year award last season. The 21-year-old forward is averaging 19.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. He is shooting 48.8 percent from the field and an astounding 43.6 percent from three.

Young players often have a sophomore slump in the NBA, but that isn't the case for Banchero. He has gone from a poor three-point shooter last season, as he shot 29.8 percent, to an elite shooter. Banchero's jump has helped the Magic explode to start the season.

Franz Wagner has been highly impactful as well. Wagner is averaging a career-high 19.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.2 steals. The 22-year-old forward is one of the premier scoring threats for Orlando.

The depth and development in their rotation have led to this climb. Jalen Suggs's impact as a point-of-attack defender has given them an elite wing defender. He leads the team in steals per game with 1.9. Cole Anthony and Moritz Wagner have also played well in their roles, stepping up with the injuries to Wendell Carter Jr. and Markelle Fultz.

The rookies, Anthony Black and Jett Howard, have shown flashes in their minutes. Black has become a significant part of the rotation during Fultz's absence. Second-year guard Caleb Houstan has also shown flashes in his limited minutes.

However, the impact of the veterans has been apparent. Joe Ingles, Goga Bitadze, Gary Harris, and Jonathan Isaac lead the team in plus-minus. Their influence on the young team has been pivotal in the breakout season. While they only get between 14 and 21 minutes per game, they have been highly productive on the floor. Bitadze has proven this with increased minutes due to Carter Jr's injury. Bitadze is leading the team with 1.5 blocks per game.

The veterans have helped establish the culture in the locker room and helped the Magic become a top seed in the East.

Orlando has arrived behind the play of their budding stars and young core paired with veteran leadership and experience. Head coach Jamahl Mosley has done a great job developing this team, and they have become a formidable team in the Eastern Conference.


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