Paolo Banchero and the surprising Orlando Magic are way ahead of schedule

Cleveland Cavaliers v Orlando Magic
Cleveland Cavaliers v Orlando Magic / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages
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How the Magic have turned things around

In a league where general managers operate with far shorter leases than most will admit, drafting and developing players requires sacrificing present-day wins, and most decision-makers don't have the luxury of forgoing. Considering the Magic last won a playoff series 12 years ago, Jeff Weltman's job security at the time was tenuous at best.

And yet, a quarter of the way through the 2023-2024 season, not only is Weltman a leading candidate for “Executive of the Year,” but his Orlando squads find themselves near the top of the conference standings.

Paced by a defense that is as versatile as any in the association, the Magic have found a way to minimize their shooting woes rather than outright solve them, creating an attack built on off-ball movement and Banchero’s passing ability.

A far cry from how most NBA champions have made their teams, Orlando’s success is notable because it is the best example of crafting organizational strategy around the talent on hand rather than shoehorning lesser players into a preconceived notion of how a team “should” play, in recent NBA history.