- NBA Rank: 24
Conference Rank: 13
- Orlando Magic
Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.Albert Einstein
The Magic have been in a downward spiral since Dwight's contract struggles a couple of years ago. Last season was a mere three losses away from a franchise record low. Is there room for hope in the Magic's future? In the offseason they've made some decent moves. They'll be lottery fodder again this season, but the franchise may be looking up.
In their 25 year history the Magic have had the number 1 pick three times. Two of these picks were Shaq and Dwight, who helped lead their teams to the finals. They turned their third #1 pick into Penny Hardaway, an amazing guard picked with the second pick. Losing Shaq dropped them from a contender to first round exit. Losing Dwight dropped them from a playoff team to one of the worst in the league. Hopefully the worst is behind the Magic. Let's examine the wreckage of last year.
|J.J. Redick ||1575||29||.080||4.0|
|DeQuan Jones ||803||23||.003||.1|
|Beno Udrih ||738||31||.100||3.1|
|Josh McRoberts ||685||26||.103||3.2|
|Gustavo Ayon ||571||28||.077||1.2|
|Al Harrington ||119||33||-.186||-.5|
Indicates that the player is no longer with the team.
The Magic had two bright lights on an otherwise terrible roster: Nikola Vucevic and Mo Harkless (Editor's Note: Weep for what could have been in Philly). Some of this would have been hard to predict; Arron Afflalo went from shooting lights out to making Nick Young look decent. But generally, on a team relying on an aging Jameer Nelson, and which actually gave Glen Davis this many minutes, the results were not surprising. Is there any hope for the future?
|Victor Oladipo ||2.0||2493||21||.138||7.2|
|Jason Maxiell ||4.2||1401||30||.027||.8|
|Ronnie Price ||1.5||684||30||-.060||-.9|
|Romero Osby ||4.0||533||23||.005||.1|
|Kris Joseph ||1.0||54||24||-.214||-.2|
|Solomon Jones ||1.0||26||29||-.271||-.1|
Indicates that the player is new to the team.
The good news is that the Magic will get three young and/or improving players in Vucevic, Harkless, and Oladipo. The Magic pretty much won the draft this year. The problem with winning the draft is two-fold: First, it takes most players a few seasons to turn into their true selves. We've projected Oladipo to play well but he won't be close to star level -- yet. Second, it typically means your team is terrible. That hasn't changed. We've only got three players projected to play major minutes at an above average level. Glen Davis will still be getting big minutes, and that won't help. Thanks to the influx of Oladipo and the improvement to the core young guys, the Magic should improve by about ten wins. This will be good enough to not be terrible, but it won't get them playoff-ready yet. If they shed a few more bad players (seriously, just let Davis go. Just bite the bullet and let him go!) and grab another productive player or two, they could be back in the playoffs in a year or two.
I've viewed the Magic and Dwight as an NBA example of a bad breakup. We've had one partner leaving, but then coming back, before leaving again. We've had late night drunk dials. We've seen a lot of passive-aggressive insults (which have now spread to the Lakers). The truth is that the Magic were the ultimate losers here. They weren't prepared for life without Dwight, and they have not handled it well. It seems, though, that both Dwight and the Magic are back on the right track. Dwight should be competing for a title, and the Magic might not suck! So, win-win, right?
The Second Opinion Patrick's Take
I have to take exception to that last bit -- clearly, the 76ers and the Lakers came out much worse than the Magic in this. For Dwight, they got 3 picks, two budding borderline stars (Harkless and Vucevic) and a lot of cap relief, and all they had to do was take Afflalo's contract (Harrington's was an expiring). And he might even stage a comeback and be a servicable player. They are in a better spot now than if Dwight had played out the year and left in free agency, which is remarkable!
Philly gave up 3 star players and a pick to get....nothing. Not one minute of Andrew Bynum. That's one of the most lopsided outcomes in the history of the NBA. Let's face it, if Harkless and Vucevic were in Philly right now, they'd be a sure playoff team, even if Iguodala weren't there! The Lakers did arguably better than they would have done had they kept Bynum, but still aren't in a good spot right now.
I'm kind of bullish on their future, but it will really depend on the choices they make this year. They are very close to respectability, which is where they need to get fast if they want to build a contender in the next few years; otherwise, guys like Vucevic and Harkless will probably move on when they enter their prime.