2019-2020 Record: 33-40
Key Returning Players
Aaron Gordon has looked primed to break out for years now, but it just hasn’t happened. He’s only 25 years old, but he saw a bit of a regression last season and there’s nothing to indicate he’s going to develop into a true NBA star. They have a couple big expiring contracts in Evan Fournier and Markelle Fultz.
Is this the year they officially blow it up and start a mini youth movement in Orlando?
I say a “mini” movement because Vučević is still due $26 million, $24 million, and $22 million over the next three years, so moving that contract for a big that has a somewhat outdated game isn’t likely. Cole Anthony, Chuma Okeke, Mo Bamba, Markelle Fultz, Jonathan Isaac, Melvin Frazier, Dwayne Bacon, and Aaron Gordon are all 25 years of age or younger and make for some decent building blocks if they choose to move the contracts of Evan Fournier, Al-Farouq Aminu, and/or Terrence Ross. Loading up on young potential talent with that money makes a whole lot of sense if they can find the right trade partners.
We should get a nice position battle between Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony right out the gate. Fultz should have no problem winning the starting gig, and probably holding it all season. However, if the Magic like what they see in Greg Anthony’s son Cole, they’ll probably look to move Fultz’s expiring deal, worth roughly $12 million. Fultz is safe to draft, and he’s young so even if he gets moved he should have ample opportunity to play big minutes.
Fultz had a career year last year in Orlando and he’ll look to build on that experience. Most encouraging was his 73% clip from the free-throw line and 46.5% clip from the field. Both of those are not great, but they are significant improvements over his previous seasons. His lack of three-point shooting severely caps his value, but he’s a great late round source of assists and steals if he’s still sitting around in the 10th round or later of your fantasy draft and you find yourself in need of shoring up those categories.
Cole Anthony is a bit of an enigma to start the season, but he should be able to carve out a 20-25 minute role when all is said and done. He comes equipped with the ability to score and shoot beyond the arc, but not much else. He’s best left for the waiver wire with an eye on him for if and when he gets hot.
The once-promising Michael Carter-Williams just snagged himself another 2-year contract in the $3 million per year range. He’ll reprise his role as emergency depth and can be safely ignored unless something happens to both guys ahead of him on the depth chart.
Evan Fournier is an interesting name here as he picked up his roughly $17 million player option for this season with the Magic. It’s hard to believe he would have earned more in free agency, so it’s probably a smart bet on his part. Rumors are swirling that he is quietly requesting a trade out of Orlando and that makes a lot of sense. He deserves to be a third or fourth option on an actual contender, which is why he can be viewed as a bit of a risky choice in fantasy hoops this season. If he remains on the Magic, he’ll maintain mid round value. He’ll probably come off the board somewhere around the 7th or 8th round in your draft and it’s probably best to let someone else draft him. If he’s still there any later though, feel free to pull the trigger for his ability to produce points, steals, assists, and threes.
Terrence Ross will return on a long-term deal he signed in July of 2019 to reprise his role as the Magic’s 6th man. If Fournier gets moved, it will be a boon to his value. He won’t improve much from his 14.7 points, 1.1 steals, and 2.6 threes per game though, so he’ll most likely stay a late mid round value for those categories. The threes are the main stat to like here.
With Jonathan Isaac out of the picture, this position is probably the single greatest question mark on the roster for the Orlando Magic. Aaron Gordon has the ability to slot into either forward position, but the question is which forward will take the other slot. Gordon spent roughly 90% of his time at the power forward spot last season according to Basketball Reference, and he’s more valuable there with his strength and ability to blow by slower players.
James Ennis is the logical choice to start here as he was a favorite of coach Clifford last season and managed 24.5 minutes per game. That might make sense in real life, but from a fantasy perspective it’s not very appealing. Ennis only managed 8.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in those 24 minutes and he doesn’t really contribute much else. He’s safe to ignore.
Al-Farouq Aminu is one of my favorite deep league targets because he can’t really hurt you with his career 42/75/34 shooting splits and decent points, rebounds, and steals numbers. For normal fantasy leagues though, he’s safe to ignore in all formats.
Dwayne Bacon split his time last season between shooting guard and small forward with the Charlotte Hornets, but it’s hard to say if he’ll have the same role with his new team. Outside of scoring in bunches, he doesn’t do much anyways.
As you can see, this is generally a situation to ignore in fantasy basketball. Like a political argument with uncle Jim on Thanksgiving, no one really wins here.
Aaron Gordon is still very good. He’s just not really elite. I like to draft him for his ability to contribute in every category, all the way down to the 3.7 assists and 1.2 threes per game from last season. He’s a nice glue guy to snag in the 7th or 8th round of your draft. You can probably reach up to the 6th round and it will still be a smart choice, though there won’t be a lot of upside there.
Gary Clark, Chuma Okeke, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Khem Birch should all see time at this position to back up Aaron Gordon and can all be safely ignored as their timeshare situation caps the appeal of all of them.
Nikola Vučević is an absolute beast and you can safely target him at the end of the second round or the beginning of the third. He produces across the board, chipping in a block, steal and three-pointer per game to go with his roughly 20 points per game and double digit rebounding. His shooting percentages are elite for the center position as well. He had a bit of a down year last year, but it wasn’t much and he should have no problem bouncing back to where he was in 2018-19.
Mo Bamba forever intrigues me and if you’re playing in a deep league, drafting Mo Bamba could win you the whole thing if the cards fall right and he finally gets minutes. It would take a major injury to Vuc or a roster shakeup to get him there, but his per-36 numbers are intriguing. Here they are from last season: 13.6 points, 12.4 rebounds, 3.5 blocks, 1.5 threes. 46/67/35 shooting splits aren’t terrible either. He’s someone to keep in mind for daily fantasy if Vuc is out, but he needs a way to minutes to consider rostering in season-long fantasy formats.
Khem Birch will be the third center and as mentioned in the power forward section, he’s safe to avoid in all formats. If Bamba and Vuc both are out for some reason, he might be worth a stream for rebounds and decent field goal percentage.
- Will Fournier stay or will he go now?
- With his contract situation, age, and fit, Evan Fournier is the most likely to get moved off of the Orlando roster. It will open up quite a bit of opportunity with all his scoring and 23.9% usage up for grabs. There’s no clear winner in that scenario, and it will depend on what they get in return for him, but likely it will be an effort by committee to replace his production. Cole Anthony, Terrence Ross, and Aaron Gordon could all benefit from Fournier leaving town.
- How well will Cole Anthony play?
- There aren’t a ton of expectations when you’re picked 15th overall, but Magic fans will definitely be looking for Cole Anthony to give them something to be excited about. He didn’t have a stellar field goal percentage or assist-to-turnover ratio in college, so there’s an uphill battle for him to be a standout immediately, but it’s always possible. Greg Anthony was a very solid player and you’d have to think Cole has learned a thing or two about how to play at the NBA level, which is a fairly different game than college basketball. We’ll know more by the All-Star break, but if he plays well it will make Markelle Fultz expendable.
- Who will play forward beside Aaron Gordon?
- Jonathan Isaac was playing well, so it’s a bit of a disappointment he won’t be suiting up this season. It leaves quite a roster hole which will prove difficult for coach Steve Clifford to fill. Barring the addition of a solid forward, the Magic may need to get unorthodox to cover up that hole. It’s possible, for instance, that they slide Evan Fournier into the small forward position and make space for Cole Anthony to start at shooting guard. It’s not ideal from a defensive standpoint, but it would give them a good, long look at a player who should be with the organization for multiple seasons. It’s equally possible they go the orthodox route and just slot James Ennis into that spot. The Magic have applied for the disabled player exception for Isaac and if they are approved, they’ll have space to add another body on the cheap.