NBA teams aren't often known for their patience. It is a win now league. Which makes the plan the Orlando Magic have employed somewhat unique. Rather than spend recklessly and blindly throw money at random second tier free agents, they showed patience, spent smartly and left themselves some room to spend more in the 2014 after they potentially land either Andrew Wiggins, Aaron Gordon, Marcus Smart or Dante Exum in the upcoming draft.
Expectations aren't going to be huge in Orlando this season. The fans are going to want to see signs of improvement and a few more wins than last year, but I don't think they are going to be clamoring for a huge, franchise altering trade at the deadline in February.
If they continue on this nice steady course they set for themselves, they may well be contenders in five years. If the ping pong balls fall just right the next two Junes. But that IF could lead to a pretty nice run down the road in Orlando.
Head Coach: Former Kansas legend Jacque Vaughn is back as head coach. Vaughn is another coach who can't be judged by wins and losses, but rather by player development.
We'll have to see if Vaughn's adapt to personnel rather than adapt to coaching style works. We did see some big growth out of Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic last season. Victor Oladipo has improved throughout Summer League and preseason.
Seems to be working so far.
Vaughn is joined on the bench by assistants James Borrego, Wes Unseld Jr., Brett Gunning, Laron Profit and Luke Stuckey.
Last Season's Record: 20-62
Player Additions: The Magic drafted Victor Oladipo from Indiana with the second overall pick in the draft, in the second round they drafted Romero Osby. They signed Jason Maxiell and Ronnie Price to one year, inconsequential deals.
Best Player: Some would say Arron Afflalo, but I am going with Nikola Vucevic, because he is a double-double machine. These won't be 12 point and 10 rebound type of games, they'll be more like 27 point and 22 rebound type games. He only gets these type of numbers because the Magic are full of horrible shooters and he's really the only good rebounder on the floor for them.
You could also make a case for Tobias Harris here as well.
Worst Player: Just because of the massive fall from grace after the 2009 Finals, we have to go with Hedo Turkoglu. With the youth movement happening here in Orlando his usefulness on this team is just about zero.
Player due to breakthrough: Somebody. Anybody. Nobody. There are a handful of candidates, but there doesn't seem to be one guy who just seems like he's going to step forward this year. Probably everyone move forward so it is less obvious on an individual basis.
The Starters: The starting rotation is pretty much going to remain unchanged from the end of last season. Jameer Nelson at point, Afflalo at shooting guard, Maurice Harkless at small forward, Harris at power forward and Vucevic at center.
The Bench: Oladipo will be the first one off the bench. Manny Harris, Doron Lamb, Glen Davis, Ronnie Price, Maxiell and Andrew Nicholson will see most of the action off the bench.
Random Seattle Connection: Have to go back to assistant coach, Wes Unseld Jr., the Sonics beat his father in the '79 Finals.
Best Case Scenario for the Season: The young core improves game by game, competes every night and maybe even beats the Miami Heat once and pulls a few other upsets along the way. Then come May while the playoffs are happening and the Magic have a lot of ping pong balls in some machine in New York, they once again land the first pick, this time adding Andrew Wiggins, who just might want to spend time beyond his rookie contract in Orlando.
Victor Oladipo also wins Rookie of the Year.
Worst Case Scenario for the Season: That Vaughn isn't the right person for the job, over the first few weeks of the season there are very few if any wins, play is extremely inconsistent, Vaughn is fired and a panic trade happens bringing back years and salary that completely offsets all the smart things that happened over the summer.
Most Likely Scenario for the Season: Will almost be the best case scenario for the season. With Trey Burke slated to potentially miss up to the first three months of the season, Oladipo is now the front-runner to be Rookie of the Year. We're going to see a lot of improvement with this team over the course of the year, but the team won't crack 30 wins. On the plus side they will have a top three pick in June and Jameer Nelson will not be the starting point guard next season.
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