Predicted finish: 9th in the East (3rd in the Southeast, 20 in the power rankings)
Last seasons conference finish: 8th in the East
Guess who’s back? The same exact Orlando Magic team for what feels like the eleventh year in a row. Sure they drafted Cole Anthony and will continue to take chances on young guys like Dwane Bacon and Markelle Fultz but, the NBA’s most uninspiring veteran core is back and ready to prove once again they’re somewhere from the seventh to ninth best team in the East. Has there ever been a team in league history other than the recent Magic with a harder ceiling and floor? They just kind of are what they are, refusing to take any real chances or accept they need to take a step back for a bigger step forward. My hope is with Evan Fournier in the final year of his deal, Fultz in his last year and Aaron Gordon in his second last, they see the writing on the wall. However, if the last three seasons are any indication, they’ll do nothing, barely make the playoffs, get slapped in round one and be forgotten twelve seconds after the series they somehow force a fifth game in. It’s the Orlando Magic way.
The big question for the franchise: Will they finally do something of substance?
If you think I’m joking about them having the most uninspiring core in the league I’m not. At least team’s like the Knicks and Pistons kind of know they suck and are making moves to change, Orlando meanwhile is just fully okay being in purgatory. This has to be the year they do something though right? Fournier is too good to not get a pick for, Gordon should have some type of value and with Jonathan Isaac likely missing the whole season, what exactly is the point of the eight seed for this franchise? Again, I would’ve said that last year and here we are. Frankly I’d even look to move Nikola Vucevic as well but the Magic just aren’t that frisky even despite the fact of how good a player he is and how many teams he could help (Boston and Washington come to mind fast). Let’s all be honest with ourselves, who am I kidding. All of these guys are finishing the season in Orlando and we all know it.
One move I want to see them make: Trade Aaron Gordon
Aaron Gordon is on my first-team all-can-we-please-see-this-guy-on-a-good-team. Gordon would be so much fun for a team like Brooklyn or Boston or Denver or Golden State. If they made him available, I really think you’d get some good stuff for him for three reasons:
- He’s younger than you think (25)
- He’s the perfect defensive fit as a final piece for about half of the contenders
- His contract is a great number for this year and next at about $19 million a year
Because he’s such a good fit, the bidding from multiple suitors would drive up his value as well so like really, why is this taking so long other than it’s Orlando?
Offseason Grade: C-
I really liked their draft but otherwise outside of the Dwane Bacon signing, they did nothing which is super disappointing.
Young player I’m excited for: Cole Anthony/Markelle Fultz duo
As I said, I love the Cole Anthony selection. I think his fit on this team as a scorer, shot-creating guard is exactly what they haven’t had. Frankly, I also think he and Fultz could play off each other well with such contrasting styles. Fultz needs a big year heading into free agency and Orlando is rumoured to really love him so I expect the ball in his hands a ton to prove them right. With Anthony as well to compliment him, I think there’s a serious potential of a fun back court in Orlando if everything breaks the right way.
I don’t mean to sound so negative on this team because quite honestly, I like just about every one of their players. Vucevic is underrated, Fournier feels like a missing shot creator piece for a title contender (Boston), Isaac is an incredible defender, I’ll always pull for Fultz and Anthony is my favourite guy in the draft. That said, when added together these guys just aren’t enough to be a team of substance that really matters and in my opinion that means it’s time to move on. The information is in. They aren’t good enough. So, let’s get this going and improve this roster’s future sooner rather than later.