BoxScore Geeks' 2014 Orlando Magic Preview

The Numbers

  •  Average Seed
    12
  • 📉 Pessimist
    17.9 wins
  •  Realist
    25.4 wins
  • 📈 Optimist
    33.0 wins
 First Seed
 
0.0%
⋆ Division
 
1.1%
 Top 4
 
1.2%
👍 Over (27.0)
ğŸ‘Ž Under (27.0)
ğŸŽ€ Playoffs
 
11.0%

The Brief

The Orlando Magic have a plan apparently. I don't really understand it or even come close to agreeing with it, but they apparently are committed to it. In twenty-five years of history, the pattern with the Magic is to have an inordinate amount of things go their way only for them to squander all of their good fortune. Arguably, the three best centers of the last 25 years were on their roster (Shaq, Dwight, Ben Wallace) yet they have no rings and only two finals to show for it. The patterns seems to be holding.

The Story

The moves that the Orlando front office made in the offseason seem to indicate a severe disconnect with the logical progression of a young team's growth, and a disconnect with player value. Adding veteran pieces is a good idea if you have a contending team that needs depth and experience to go to the next level (see the Wizards). Adding them to a young team that is still in the weeds like the Magic is a terrible idea. These highly paid veterans will proceed to take minutes away from the young players you should be trying to give reps. If these players are bad -- like Ben Gordon -- It'll be a train wreck.

Last Year

  •  Actual Wins: 23
  •  Expected Wins: 27.9
  • ⚅ Lucky Wins: 1.1
Player Minutes Age WP48 Wins
Arron Afflalo  2,552 28 0.070 3.7
Victor Oladipo 2,487 22 0.050 2.6
Jameer Nelson  2,179 32 0.076 3.4
Maurice Harkless 1,950 21 0.125 5.1
Tobias Harris 1,850 22 0.098 3.8
Nikola Vucevic 1,812 23 0.144 5.4
E'Twaun Moore  1,506 25 0.045 1.4
Glen Davis  1,354 28 0.012 0.3
Kyle O'Quinn 1,188 24 0.136 3.4
Andrew Nicholson 1,174 24 -0.069 -1.7
Doron Lamb  695 22 0.029 0.4
Jason Maxiell  488 31 -0.043 -0.4
Ronnie Price  377 31 0.002 0
Dewayne Dedmon 234 24 0.114 0.6
Solomon Jones  85 30 -0.061 -0.1
Adonis Thomas  24 21 -0.147 -0.1

 Indicates that the player is no longer with the team.

  • 27.9 total Wins Produced
  •  9 players leaving
    (9260.0 minutes, 8.8 wins)

The Magic underperformed their expected wins by five whole wins last year. Tracking their lineups during the season was actually morbidly funny. A player being left out of a game with a DNP-Tanking or DNP-Not feeling shiny would not have been at all surprising. Let's take a look at who actually played for them.

There are some interesting young pieces here. Vucevic being the most obvious one. He might be the fifth franchise center that they've found in 25 years as a franchise (Shaq, Ben, Dwight, Gortat being the other four). I'd normally write about injury concerns for a young center that missed so much time but in this particular case, it felt more like a paid vacation than any possible medical issue. Oladipo is the other really interesting piece. He's going to be good once they stop using him out of position (on purpose, of course). The players that left this team were not quality NBA players, like Glen Davis.

This Year

  •  Projected Wins: 25.4
  •  Conference Rank: 12
  • % Playoffs: 11.0
Player Position Minutes Age WP48 Wins
Victor Oladipo 2.0 2,142.7 23 0.076 3.4
Nikola Vucevic 5.0 2,049.1 24 0.167 7.1
Elfrid Payton  1.0 1,945.8 0 0.104 4.2
Tobias Harris 3.0 1,854.9 23 0.067 2.6
Andrew Nicholson 4.0 1,782.7 25 -0.021 -0.8
Luke Ridnour  1.0 1,334.7 34 -0.006 -0.2
Channing Frye  4.0 1,281.9 32 0.037 1.0
Maurice Harkless 3.0 1,243.2 22 0.080 2.1
Evan Fournier  2.0 1,128.0 22 0.034 0.8
Kyle O'Quinn 5.0 1,099.3 25 0.081 1.8
Willie Green  2.0 806.7 34 0.034 0.6
Ben Gordon  2.0 788.8 32 -0.007 -0.1
Ishmael Smith  1.0 713.8 27 0.126 1.9
Dewayne Dedmon 5.0 691.9 26 0.037 0.5
Aaron Gordon  4.0 561.6 0 0.052 0.6
Peyton Siva  1.0 546.4 24 0.043 0.5
Roy Devyn Marble  2.0 422.2 0 0.039 0.3

 Indicates that the player is new to the team.

  • 📅 20.3 WP last year
    by these players
  • 🔀 -3.0 WP (roster changes)
  • ⏲ 1.1 WP (age/experience)

As much as I like some of the young pieces on this squad (Vucevic, Oladipo, Harris, Harkless) and dislike the pieces they got rid off ... they did a bad job at filling out the rest of their roster.

There is a lot of red in that picture. Frye was a net positive offensive player in Phoenix last year who was bad at everything else. Ben Gordon was so bad he was literally off the scale.  In a complete reversal from last year, rather than a good team that underperforms on purpose, we now have a bad team that's going to believe it's underperforming.

The Wrap

The Magic could have set up their roster to continue to grow their young squad with an eye towards making the playoffs in a year or two and then becoming a perennial fixture in the postseason. Instead, they indulged in the kind of short term decision making that could derail their young player's development and trap them as a perennial laughingstock. Vegas has them pegged for 27 wins. Given the team they have and how competitive I expect the southeast to be, I think the under is more likely.

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