It’s well known that the Orlando Magic are in rebuilding mode. To this point, they’re 14th in the Eastern Conference at 15-29; only the Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, and Minnesota Timberwolves have worse records. That’s likely about to change, and not to the benefit of Magic fans. The Magic absolutely blew up their roster prior to the trade deadline this past Thursday, trading away All-Star Nikola Vucevic, Al-Farouq Aminu, Aaron Gordon, and Evan Fournier. In exchange for all four they got Gary Harris, RJ Hampton, Otto Porter Jr., Wendell Carter Jr., and some picks.
The significance of the aforementioned three players leaving Orlando is apparently obvious when you look at the numbers. Of the list of scoring leaders for the Magic prior to the trade deadline, only one of the top six is currently healthy and/or on the roster. Terrence Ross. Even he has poked around at the insanity of that on Twitter. Well, what about the pieces they traded for? Harris is out for the foreseeable future due to a thigh injury. Hampton has not played in a game in a month, though he will see minutes in Orlando. Carter Jr. would rank seventh in scoring and is completely healthy and ready-to-go. Looking at the new roster (assuming Carter Jr. averages the same amount of points), Dwayne Bacon would be the third best scorer on the team at 9.9 points. Otto Porter Jr. also averages the same exact amount That’s beyond insanity. The real question now becomes, how can one benefit from this odd situation in fantasy basketball?
The undoubtedly number one player you want is Terrence Ross. He’s averaging 26.4 fantasy points per game and will see that number jump since, well, who the hell else is going to score the ball in the backcourt now that Fournier is gone. The next player I’d look at is Wendell Carter Jr. who averages 24.7 fantasy points per game. That will go up due to an increase of minutes; the Chicago Bulls played him as a backup due to going with Thaddeus Young as a small ball option instead. Michael Carter-Williams, the only returning starter following the trade deadline slaughter, will remain primarily a ball handler. Porter Jr. fits in nicely to where Aminu would be playing and should see a drastic increase in minutes. Bacon will also see a large jump in minutes, and likely scoring, as he tries to sizzle up some strong performances.
However, it’s the lesser known players that I’m more personally interested in. Is it because I’m trigger happy and love swinging for homeruns? Maybe. Regardless, I’d watch Mo Bamba and Chuma Okeke. Bamba is interesting because he is only averaging around 10 minutes of run per game, but with All-Star Vucevic out of town that will increase, even with Carter Jr. arriving. His per-36 numbers are insane at 16 points, 14 rebounds, and three blocks. However, Okeke is the player that can come out on top after all the smoke clears. He’s the only healthy power forward on the roster. He’s seen 21.7 minutes of action per game netting 14.9 fantasy points per game. However, with Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic gone, his numbers could skyrocket astronomically. Look at his most recent performance against the Phoenix Suns. He finished with 17 points (6-6 from the field, 4-4 from deep, and 1-2 from the line), and three rebounds in 20 minutes. The opportunity is more than there for Okeke, and you better pay attention.