3. Orlando Magic (New Year’s Eve)
It is not often the Orlando Magic rank this highly in any list, but there’s a reason they’re sitting here ahead of a New Year’s Eve tilt against the Suns. Put simply, this is going to be one of the best young groups in the entire league this coming season.
Wrapping up the calendar year against a sophomore Paolo Banchero and third year Franz Wagner will be an excellent barometer to see where the Suns are at this point. The Magic are young, hungry and play some excellent defensive ball under head coach Jamahl Mosley. They are not going to be an easy out on any occasion.
They also represent what could be the Suns’ kryptonite, a young team who will run up and down the court all night. Banchero and Wagner could both be All-Stars as soon as this coming season, with Wagner having just had an excellent showing at the FIBA World Cup, winning gold with Germany.
The Magic were right on league average for pace last season (99.6), and their own point guard Markelle Fultz is a methodical player. Still, with young legs and a center in Wendell Carter Jr. who will get inside and bang all night, this is going to be a stern test of the Suns’ defensive credentials to close out the year.