The Orlando Magic have plenty of questions entering the 2022-23 season, which will tip off against the Detroit Pistons on Oct. 19.
Their training camp, which starts in one week at their new state-of-the-art AdventHealth Training Center, should help provide answers.
The Magic’s 2½ weeks between the start of camp and the regular season, which includes five preseason games, will provide insight on their plan for their wings (combo players who can slot in at shooting guard or small forward).
Orlando’s wings include Gary Harris, Caleb Houstan, Chuma Okeke, Terrence Ross and Franz Wagner.
Forwards Kevon Harris and Admiral Schofield also are signed to two-way contracts with the Magic, while Joel Ayayi will be included on Orlando’s 20-man training-camp roster after signing an Exhibit 10 deal.
Here are three storylines to monitor once camp starts:
1. Wagner’s usage
Wagner exceeded expectations by playing at an elite level for a rookie most of the season.
He averaged 15.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 30.7 minutes (79 starts in 79 appearances), being named to the All-Rookie first team and finishing fourth (two third-place votes) for Rookie of the Year that was awarded to Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes.
When asked to do more, Wagner stepped up in multiple facets — especially as a defender, pick-and-roll ballhandler, driver and playmaker.
He was a high-level cutter and off-ball threat offensively.
The questions surrounding Wagner entering his second season are not only about how he’ll build off last year but also his usage.
Wagner may not be relied upon as a ballhandler as much.
Forward Paolo Banchero, the No. 1 pick in June’s draft, and Markelle Fultz, who returned from a torn left knee anterior cruciate ligament, likely will carry a significant load.
That’s in addition to guards Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs — Orlando’s starting backcourt for most of last season.
Wagner took steps forward as an on-ball creator, especially as a pull-up shooter, with the German men’s national basketball team in EuroBasket 2022. How much he’ll be able to show that growth will depend on how he’s used by coach Jamahl Mosley with this team.
Mosley thinks Wagner is versatile enough to be a primary ballhandler and values his decision-making, both on and off the ball.
“It’s not necessarily the ballhandling, it’s more the decision-making,” Mosley said on the Magic’s official podcast, Pod Squad. “You feel comfortable with a guy who can make decisions. That’s what we’re asking all of our guys to do: How can they be better decision-makers? When Franz first started summer league it was ‘look at how well he cuts.’ That’s a decision-maker.
“That’s what we work on with all our guys, not just with the ball in my hands. Franz will have the ball in his hands some. If you’re out there with four other decision-makers, you’re looking at a pretty good team.”
2. Harris’ injury
Harris, who signed a 2-year, $26 million contract extension to return to Orlando before free agency officially started July 1, had arthroscopic surgery on Aug. 31 to perform a meniscectomy in his left knee after tearing cartilage.
Tony Wanich, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at the HSS Sports Medicine Institute, told the Orlando Sentinel an arthroscopic meniscectomy isn’t an invasive procedure and involves “removing the torn or unstable portion of the meniscus (or cartilage).”
Even with the Magic’s other guard/wing options, Harris’ on-court contributions will be missed depending on how long he’s sidelined.
He was one of the Magic’s most consistent 3-and-D contributors in 2021-22, averaging 11.1 points on 43.4% shooting from the field and 38.4% shooting on 3s for a 53.9% effective field goal percentage — a formula that adjusts for 3-pointers being worth more than 2-pointers.
“Typical rehab/recovery is about six weeks for a full return to activity,” Wanich added. “The good thing about meniscus surgery is it’s not a very invasive procedure. After surgery, patients are able to move around right away but they’re limited as far as running or jumping usually for that first six weeks.”
A 6-8 week recovery period would give Harris a tentative return time frame for mid-to-late October.
Orlando plays seven games in the opening month, so Harris shouldn’t miss too much of the season — if he misses any. He’ll likely be limited for most of training camp, which starts Sept. 27.
“The first thing we focus on during that recovery process is getting back full range of motion,” Wanich said of the recovery and rehab from an arthroscopic meniscectomy. “Any time you do any sort of knee/joint surgery, there’s a risk for scar tissue formation, which would lead to loss of motion and stiffness in the knee. Focusing on making sure they recover their range of motion is important.
“The other part is making sure the knee has enough time to adapt to this new situation. What I mean by that is you’ve got this knee where it’s lost a little bit of a cushion. Every time you do run and jump, there’s more impact that gets put on that bone. The body adapts to that, but this is why you’ve got to worry about rushing players back too quickly. If the bone doesn’t have enough time to adapt and adjust, that could delay the recovery because it’s putting too much impact on the bone.”
3. Crowded house
With the Magic drafting Banchero, re-signing Mo Bamba and Bol Bol and Jonathan Isaac’s expected return to the floor, it’ll be a battle for playing time in the frontcourt — especially as the 4/power forward.
What’ll be the impact on the rest of the roster?
Will Okeke, who’s mainly played the 4, play more as the 3 in lineups?
Will Ross, who’s entering the last season of a 4-year, $54 million contract, play more as the 2/shooting guard after mostly being used as the 3 in 2021-22?
Where does Houstan, the No. 32 pick in June’s draft, fit in the wing rotation, especially after Harris returns?
The Magic have options they’ll use camp to sort through.
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.