Orlando Magic: Steps to Contention

The Orlando Magic have been cemented in mediocrity over the past couple of seasons. They have a roster capable of making the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, but nothing more. This season was yet another indication. Orlando made the playoffs as the eighth seed and bowed out four games to one to the Milwaukee Bucks. It’s time to make a few moves.

How the Orlando Magic can Improve

Step One: Trade Mo Bamba

The Mo Bamba experiment has not lived up to fruition in Orlando. That’s not necessarily a shock or a knock on Bamba.

Nikola Vucevic is Orlando’s best player, a former All-Star, and of course, plays the same position as Bamba. Vucevic just finished his first season of a four year, $100 million contract. Due to that, Vucevic is there to stay. He’s also fresh off a season where he put up averages of 20 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 assists per game.

Bamba has yet to shine early on in his career, of course, due to a lack of playing time. He has the tools to be a very solid center, however. He stands at 7’0″ and has a wingspan of 7’10”. Bamba came into the league with a skinny frame but has also improved his weight and strength. Furthermore, he’s already a solid rebounder and shot-blocker and has the potential to spread the floor with his shooting.

With all that being said, the Magic cannot keep holding onto him and allow his value to decrease. There are plenty of teams that could be looking to upgrade at center this offseason, such as the Golden State Warriors, Charlotte Hornets, Sacramento Kings, and San Antonio Spurs. If the Magic can find a deal they like, where they would receive either draft picks or talented rotation players (or a combination of both), then they must consider it.

The Magic are strong at center with Vucevic and Khem Birch. It’s time to focus on upgrading other positions instead of trying to manage a frontcourt logjam.

Step Two: Listen to Aaron Gordon Trade Offers

Aaron Gordon is another Magic player who hasn’t quite lived up to the hype. Gordon is, by all means, a solid player, putting up averages of 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists per game this season, but his fit is questionable with the current Magic roster.

The Magic have talent in the frontcourt, but sorely lack any in the backcourt. Furthermore, Jonathan Isaac, although injured, has the tools to take over the team’s power forward position for the foreseeable future. Orlando needs to listen to trade offers for Gordon involving point guards and/or wing players.

A few players the Magic could look at as possible matches for a Gordon trade include Spencer DinwiddieKelly OubreBuddy HieldDeMar DeRozan, and perhaps even Chris Paul.

Dinwiddie is a massively underrated point guard, Oubre and DeRozan are exciting wings that pack a scoring punch, Hield is an elite three-point shooter, and Paul remains one of the top point guards in the league.

Gordon is just 24, meaning there will be plenty of teams interested in his services. He’s already a good player and certainly has the potential to become better in a new system.

Step Three: The Orlando Magic Must Plan Ahead for Monte Morris in 2021

If the Magic are unable to acquire a star point guard this offseason, Monte Morris must be close to the top of their 2021 free-agent wish list.

Markelle Fultz showed plenty of signs of improvement this season, but he’s still not a true point guard. In addition, it’s very unlikely that he lives up the hype of being a former number one draft pick. The Magic’s other two point guards, DJ Augustin and Michael Carter-Williams, are both free agents this offseason. Augustin is a capable back-up, but nearing the twilight of his career. Carter-Williams is simply a rotation player and not the best option behind Fultz as he struggles as a shooter.

Morris fits the bill as a low-risk, high-reward signing. He’s currently the back-up point guard for the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets have Jamal Murray, so it should be expected for Morris to look elsewhere for a possible starting role.

In 22 minutes a game this season, Morris averaged 9 points, 3.5 assists, and 1 steal per game. This came on a very solid shooting split of 46-38-84. These numbers will shoot up as a starter, and even more for Orlando as Morris would be a primary ball-handler as opposed to being on a Nuggets team who have many.

He would form a strong rotation at point guard with Fultz. In addition, if the Magic choose to keep Evan Fournier, a Morris-Fournier backcourt would cause headaches for opposing defenses as Fournier shot 40 percent from three this season.

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