The Orlando Magic Begin From Scratch… Again
The Magic took their lumps last season, knowing that they were stripping the roster bare in order to build from scratch with a new GM (Rob Hennigan) and head coach (Jacques Vaughn). The Magic showed fight under Vaughn, but they were ultimately vastly too young and inexperienced to be a consistent team. Arguably, the best player on the Magic – a term that should be used loosely – is Arron Afflalo, and he was injured off and on throughout the season. One thing Hennigan managed to accomplish was to stock the team with young talent (along with the #2 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft). It is much easier to jump from a 20-win team to become a playoff team, than to be stuck in purgatory as a perennial 35-40 win team with no high lottery choices or any real cap space.
The Magic have a bit of cap space (and would have much more if F Hedo Turkoglu waives his player option – which, at $12 million, is highly unlikely) and their core players outside of Afflalo and G Jameer Nelson all come at a discounted rate: each earns less than $2 million. Those players include 20-year old F Moe Harkless, who flashed signs last season as a rookie, rebounding machine Nikola Vucevic, F Tobias Harris, who came on late in the season, and F/C Andrew Nicholson, who did the same. The Magic will need F Glen Davis to remain healthy, but given the construction of this team, he is not depended upon for big numbers; just the ability to bang in the post, hustle and hit an occasional jump shot. With Vucevic and Nicholson on the boards, the Magic have the interior dirty work covered for the most part. Davis and Harris provide a decent small forward/power forward combination.
The Magic could use all the help that they can get, however. If the Cavaliers do not draft Nerlens Noel as expected, then the Magic could draft him (although he is not immediately necessary; but could make the aforementioned low-priced/high output young players expendable as trade pieces), or, if Noel is drafted by the Cavs – or any team, if the Cavs do indeed pull off a trade of the #1 pick – the Magic will be able to set their sights on a player such as Victor Oladipo, Ben McLemore, Otto Porter, or a plethora of shooting guard/point guard options. Nelson is a solid, if not unspectacular point guard, but the team could use an upgrade there if they can find that piece. Taking PG Trey Burke out of Michigan would be somewhat of a reach (as he is undersized, like Nelson), but Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse) provides PG ability at 6’6”. There are a few ways the Magic can look in the draft, and they could have up to $20 million in cap space as well. Things are looking upward for the Magic in light of the Dwight Howard saga of last summer.
” It Is Only A Game, Until You Bet It “