With the Magic’s, as well as the NBA’s regular season coming to an abrupt close, teams like the Bulls and Pacers barely found themselves sneaking into the postseason, with Miami being the odd man out. The Celtics and Cavaliers duked it out all year for the #1 seed in the East, with oddly enough Cleveland forfeiting the top spot by resting the majority of their players. They conceded the number one seed in the East, and now the playoff matchups are set.
So, what about the Magic?
To a casual fan reading to find out whether the young team in Central Florida will be playing late April in the playoffs, no they did not. In fact, your team STUNK; they finished the season with only 29 wins out of 82 tries. That is a .354 winning percentage, good for fifth worst in the league.
To those of you poor die hard blue and black Magic fans, I’m sorry. However, there is good news: the Orlando Magic can only get better. Having a lottery pick in this relatively ‘top-heavy’ draft is a wonderful thing for the young team. Selecting any one of those top five players can alter a team in a great way. Whether it’s the ‘Westbrook-like’ De’Aaron Fox out of Kentucky, or his teammate Malik Monk, or even a bigger guy like Jayson Tatum out of Duke, the Magic are almost guaranteed to draft a good ball player.
Pairing a stud rookie play maker alongside a guy like Aaron Gordon, who overcame a sluggish beginning to the season to end on a very strong note, could be just what the city of Orlando needs to make it back to the playoffs. The Magic have a lot of talent; just not on the bench.
Elfrid Payton proved to be an efficient point guard, but C.J. Watson way under performed, as well as one-guard D.J. Augustin. Clearly, the two backup points are on the very tail-end of their career. Meaning they may either be cut, traded, or simply retire, opening up a spot for a rookie point guard to slide right in.
Evan Fournier was a decent shooting guard, and even sometimes, a great scorer. However, when the second team came in with Jodie Meeks, the scoring definitely fell off, as did the defense. If not all, most of Fournier’s backups are very below average defenders. This upcoming free agency, there are some pretty solid names available: Kentavius Caldwell-Pope, Tim Hardaway Jr., J.J. Redick, and Tyreke Evans, just to name a few.
The middle position was an area of concern in 2016-17. While Terrence Ross can light it up most nights on the scoring sheets, he was maybe the only small forward to score. Jeff Green struggled mightily shooting the ball and it may be time for Orlando to let Green go. There are some great small forward’s in this year’s draft class, such as Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum, Malik Monk, that Orlando could select.
The four and five positions were possibly the most stable position on the court, with great starters and good backups. Aaron Gordon has proved to be a fantastic presence on the floor, both offensively and defensively. Nikola Vucevic also was a consistent scorer, and made opposing offenses know he was on the court as well. Bismack Biyombo has been a great player since his days in Toronto, where he took the league by storm in the 2015 playoffs. The Magic could probably use some more depth at these positions, but for the most part, it was the best part of the team this past season.
So, in recap, they need point guard help, shooting guard help, and forward help. Oh my.
Maybe the Magic aren’t as well off as once believed, but a solid draft, some key free agency acquisitions, and consistency on defense can sky rocket this team into the playoffs next year in a sad Eastern Conference…
along with a little magic.