The weekend is over and it is time to look back at the young guns who represented the Orlando Magic at All-Star 2022.
At the weekend’s culmination Team LeBron won the All-Star game, with Steph Curry sinking 16 three-pointers. However, that isn’t what we are here to talk about. We are here to talk about the Magic young guns of Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner and Cole Anthony.
Friday Night – The Rising Stars Game
Four teams across two games, playing in a first to 50 winner progresses exhibition. The two teams progressing then played in a final game, the winner being the first to 25 points. A race to 75 points to celebrate the NBA’s 75th anniversary.
Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs were drafted together, playing in Team (James) Worthy. They joined MarJon Beauchamp (G League Ignite), Josh Giddey (Oklahoma City Thunder), Jalen Green (Houston Rockets), Herbert Jones (New Orleans Pelicans) and Tyrese Maxey (Philadelphia 76ers).
It was clear from the off that both Jalen and Cole were having fun. Suggs was firing on all cylinders as he recorded 16 points. Those points included a 360° dunk. As of often recently Cole Anthony had a few misfires on his shooting, missing all four attempts from deep. However in an exciting game against Team Isiah (Thomas) he had the highlight play. With the game tied at 46-46 after Suggs had drilled home one of his three 3-pointers, the young Magic pairing showed the NBA what the Magic have. Josh Giddey had grabbed a rebound and fed the ball forward to a fast-breaking Jalen Suggs. With Cole Anthony trailing rapidly behind Suggs delivered an off-the-glass alley-oop to Anthony for a single handed take and slam-dunk.
Now leading 48-46 Team Worthy had a chance to win after a foul on Suggs. Making the first of two free throws, Suggs failed to make the second. Unfortunately Team Isiah took the win soon after. Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane was fouled by Suggs and made both free throws for a 49-50 victory.
That saw the exit of Jalen and Cole.
Franz Wagner was drafted by Rick Barry to join Cade Cunningham (Detroit Pistons), Dyson Daniels (G League Ignite), Evan Mobley (Cleveland Cavaliers), Isaac Okoro (Cleveland Cavaliers), Alperen Sengun (Houston Rockets) and Jae’Sean Tate (Houston Rockets).
Though not having a pivotal role on Team Barry; Franz was clearly enjoying himself. Truth be told he was constantly overlooked, particularly by Cade Cunningham who was running the point. The All-Star weekend type of game is probably not a game where Franz’s talents will shine. He scored only 3 points on 1-of-2 shooting, as Team Barry took down Team (Gary) Payton by 50-48.
Defeating Team Isaiah in the final by 25-20 saw Franz end the Rising Stars as a winner. It was Franz who knocked down the game-winning free throw. Again Franz scored just 3-points, being given limited opportunities by his team.
Scoring a total of six points across two games was surprising for one of the top scoring rookies of the season.
Saturday Night – The Dunk Contest
Ok, we can not avoid the anti-climatic event. This was definitely not Aaron Gordon going against Zach LaVine in 2016. Nor was it the contest between Aaron Gordon and Derrick Jones Jr in 2020.
Cole Anthony always wanted to be part of the Dunk Contest. And even in failing he certainly went all in. Our showman had the task of opening the contest. Both dunks we saw from Cole had the potential to be great.
The excitement was present as he danced onto the court, bringing his dad Greg Anthony with him. Anthony; a New York native donned his dad’s number 50 Knicks shirt, then opened up a box of new Timberland boots. That is the point things took a downturn as we all waited…and waited for him to lace them up. By the time he was ready the energy had gone from the crowd and the judges looked bored.
Timberland is an iconic New York brand that Cole decided to wear as he tried a windmill dunk, after grabbing the ball from his father’s outstretched hand. Had he landed it on the first effort we would be talking about Cole as a finalist. But he didn’t. The delay, false starts and missed efforts hurt his score, getting just 40 out of 50 points from the judges.
Cole was now playing catch-up and went all-in on his second effort. His second dunk was a certain 50 if made and again we would be having a different conversation. Cole threw the ball into the air from the 3-point line, grabbed it one handed, while doing a 360 to dunk at the rim.
On his first attempt Cole did not clear the front of the rim and hurt his thumb in the process. Great, just what we needed! The second attempt flew into the bench and his third came off the back iron. Having missed all three attempts the judges all gave Cole 6’s, which is the least they can award. And Cole was out.
What We Saw From The Orlando Magic At All-Star 2022
On Friday night Cade Cunningham won MVP, but it was Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony with the highlights of the night. And it was Wagner cooly delivering the game clinching shot at the free throw line. It would be a huge surprise to not see both Suggs and Wagner back in 2023’s Rising Star festivities.
Forget the Dunk Contest! We all know Cole has the ability to jump in a game if needed, but that is not his primary scoring method. However there is a positive to be taken, Cole has ambition and was not afraid, he never wavered or took the safe option. He showed a willingness to go all out to win, even if it meant failure.
What we saw from the Orlando Magic at All-Star 2022 was a taste of the future. A core of unselfish young players, having fun and working together for their team.