The Orlando Magic haven't made the playoffs since the 2019-20 campaign, but that could change with the influx of young talent the franchise has had over the last several seasons.
Orlando's starting five is expected to feature all first-round picks—Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero and Wendell Carter Jr.
What makes the lineup the most exciting it's been in a long time is the addition of Banchero, who was selected first overall in the 2022 NBA draft. Many believed Jabari Smith Jr. would be the No. 1 pick, but Banchero climbed to the top after a Zoom call with the Magic just two days before the draft.
Banchero starred at Duke as a freshman in 2021-22, averaging 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.1 steals in 39 games while shooting 47.8 percent from the floor and 33.8 percent from deep.
The 19-year-old also delivered some impressive performances during the NBA's Las Vegas Summer League, which gave the organization some confidence that he will succeed at the next level.
The Magic also feature a talented bench that includes Markelle Fultz, R.J. Hampton and Jonathan Isaac, which makes them even more of a threat to earn a playoff spot this year.
That said, here's a look at Orlando's 2022-23 schedule, championship odds, top matchups and season forecast.
2022-23 Magic Schedule Details
Season Opener: at Detroit Pistons
Championship Odds: 500-1 (via FanDuel)
Full Schedule: NBA.com
Oklahoma City Thunder (First Game: Nov. 1)
The Magic and Thunder are two of the youngest teams in the NBA, which means we're going to be in for one of the most exciting matchups of the 2022-23 season when these two meet for the first time on Nov. 1.
It will also mark the first meeting between Banchero, the 2022 No. 1 pick, and Chet Holmgren, the 2022 No. 2 overall pick, at the NBA level. The pair previously met during their freshman seasons at Duke and Gonzaga, respectively, during the 2021-22 season.
The Blue Devils won that game 84-81, and Banchero finished with 21 points, five rebounds, two assists and one steal, while Holmgren finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
Beyond that, the Thunder also feature a lineup that includes Josh Giddey, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Luguentz Dort and Darius Bazley, which will make for an interesting matchup against the Magic.
Houston Rockets (First Game: Nov. 7)
Like the Thunder, the Rockets also are one of the NBA's younger teams, meaning that we will get a good look at what the future of the league holds when the Magic meet them for the first time on Nov. 7.
It will also mark the first-ever meeting between Banchero and 2022 No. 3 overall pick Jabari Smith Jr., who was widely expected to be taken first overall by Orlando before the franchise flipped and selected Banchero.
Houston's lineup also includes Kevin Porter Jr., Alperen Sengun, Jalen Green and Jae'Sean Tate. Put that lineup against the lineup of the Magic and we'll be in for one of the more exciting matchups of the season.
While the Magic are going to be fun to watch this season with all of their young talents, it will be difficult for the franchise to compete in an increasingly difficult Eastern Conference that includes the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks.
It will be difficult for Orlando to compete for a playoff spot in general, especially after they finished last in the East last season with a 22-60 record. In addition, teams like the Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks all got better with offseason acquisitions, so the Magic could be in for another disappointing year.
However, there's optimism that this team can begin to turn things around in 2022-23, especially behind a new franchise cornerstone in Banchero, so they should at least fair better than they did in 2021-22.
Record Prediction: 27-55
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