2012-2013 W-L: 20-62
New Faces: Jason Maxiell, Ronnie Price
New Places: Beno Udrih (Knicks), Al Harrington (waived), DeQuan Jones (unrestricted free agent)
Draft: Victor Oladipo (2), Romero Osby (51)
13 months ago, the Orlando Magic traded Dwight Howard away to the Lakers in return for Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless, Josh McRoberts, Christian Eyenga and a few future draft picks. (Don’t lie, you thought they were insane). But after Dwight’s failure of a season in Tinseltown, the Orlando Magic are clear winners in the blockbuster trade, as they walked away with a handful of exciting young prospects and all the cap space they could ever wish for.
But don’t get it twisted, they’re still going to be terrible.
Last season, the Magic finished with the worst record in the association, and it earned them the second overall pick in the draft, which they used to get defensive stud Victor Oladipo. The selection was a no-brainer since the Magic ranked amongst the league’s worst in pretty much every conceivable advanced defensive stat, so he’ll draw the tough task of shutting down the league’s best offensive players, night in, night out right from the start. Worst case scenario, Oladapio will turn into Tony Allen 2.0 in a few years time – a terrific defender who’s a bit of a liability on the offensive end. But with a little work on his jumper, as well as his handle, Oladpio has the potential to become one of the league’s premier shooting guards, which has turned into a dying breed.
Other than Oladipo, none of the Magic’s new additions are anything to get excited about, seeing as Jason Maxiell and Ronnie Price have never been anything but mediocre backups and, well, let’s just say that Romero Osby isn’t expected to have a Chandler Parsons-like effect anytime soon. But that’s alright, because the more run the young guys get, the better for the Magic’s future.
In terms of returning players, the Magic have a nice, young nucleus of Maurice Harkless, Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic, rounded out by the veteran leadership of Arron Afflalo and Jameer Nelson. You can throw Glen Davis into that conversation if you really want to, but the likelihood of him being ready by the start of the season are slim and to add to that, I’m guessing that he’ll be gone before the February trade deadline. Also, I’m in favor of giving all those minutes to Tobias Harris, who averaged 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 0.9 steals per game once he was traded from the Bucks last season. Oh, and there’s Hedo Turkoglu, but it’s not the 2008 Playoffs anymore and he’s fresh off a nightmare showing at EuroBasket 2013, so I’m not expecting much.
However, with a young roster comes problems, mainly in the form of inconsistency. We’ve seen it before, most recently with Oklahoma City Thunder, who struggled mightily between 2005-2009 before becoming the juggernaut that we now see today. The hope is therefore that, by sticking with their guns, young players will continue to develop while they struggle, giving them high draft pick after high draft pick until something eventually sticks. You know, just like what happened with the Thunder.
Let’s be very clear, the Magic’s goal right now isn’t to make the Playoffs. Instead, they’ve got their eyes set on the future. They could’ve easily thrown a max-contract at the likes of Josh Smith this summer to keep their fans happy and get themselves a few extra wins, but they didn’t, which deserves a nice round of applause. However, as a result, this season will be much like the one that just wrapped up – fun to watch at times, yet excruciatingly frustrating at others. But something that will help Magic fans sleep at ease is that the upcoming draft class is expected to be one of the best in recent history. With another 20-62-ish record, the Magic’s future will likely be decided by the bounce of the ping pong balls in late May, which, if they’re lucky, could land them Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker or Marcus Smart.
But until then, enjoy the tanking.