OK, be honest. Raise your hand if you didn't see the Magic in the bottom 3 teams in the league at the start of this season.
The Magic have really surprised me. Sure, they're only on a 0.368 record, but that's good for tenth in the East- essentially, the best of the bad teams. They've done it with a roster that is talent wise one of the worst in the league. They've had to totally change their style over the Summer after losing Dwight Howard. And they've done it without two of their top 3 players for long stretches- Jameer Nelson has missed 11 games, Glen Davis 9. If they'd won even 3 more games thanks to the presence of these guys, they'd be 9th in the East, ahead of Philly, and 3 games off the playoffs.
With the East reserve guard spots as weak as they are for the All-Star Game (and I mean WEAK- you've got George, Holiday and that's about it), I think there is an argument to be made for Arron Afflalo to make the All-Star Game (and that's not the entire focus of my post, so please don't neg me for it!). He has led a young team by example, playing tenacious defense, his numbers are up with his extra responsibility and shots, but most importantly, he sets the tone for that team on both ends of the floor.
I know a lot of people say that they're putting themselves in a bad position by not tanking, but in winning the number of games they are, they are adding significant value to some of their younger prospects- Vucevic, Nicholson and Harkless are learning good habits and learning how to win ballgames.
yup. im surprised. i really thought theyd be the worst team in the league at this point.
I'm pretty sure they wish they wouldn't be as good seeing as they need top 3 help in any draft
I like their core young players mentioned in the original post in Vucevic, Harkless and Nicholson, not to mention J.J. Reddick is a solid vet who provides shooting and solid defense and Big Baby who has championship experience and the ability to play the pick and pop and bang in the post.
If they could grab a young point or a wing scorer in the draft, I think that would be ideal. Depending where the lotto pick lands, they could even get a guy like Bazz or McLemore or maybe Marcus Smart or MCW if it falls a little lower. I think Orlando is doing the right thing. Scrapping and coming up short while developing chemsitry and team identity will always weigh out tanking, in my opinon.
Nobody wants to say it but thats probably why they will end up tanking down the stretch, even if the coaching staff would most likely oppose that decision. They need top 5 talent even in a "weak" draft.
At the beginning of the season I think the over/under for wins was 37 and I said under. I was thinking along the lines of 20 wins or so. Despite the fact that they are only on pace for around 25 wins, 14 right now with 44 to games to go, they have surprised me with how well they have played. I think that speaks to what rookie head coach Jacque Vaughn has done. Every time I have seen them they play extremely hard, giving good effort. Afflalo, Redick, and Nelson are playing great. Vucevic looks like he can be a very capable center in the league. One poster on here early stated that the Magic might be winners in the D. Howard trade, especially if Moe Harkless, who has nice potential pans out. Nicholson also looks to be nice NBA player as well. I like Kyle O'Quinn's game as well but he can't get on the floor. I think a little bit of their success is addition by subtraction with Howard. It seems to me it would be draining as a teammate to play with the diva that is Howard. What a relief it must be this not having to put up with his antics. They look good going forward with a good young coach and some nice talent.
They could also add another player this year with most likely a top 10 pick. They have plenty of bigs but I bet they would love if Anthony Bennett would fall to them to pair with 7 footer Vucevic. That will not happen so should they go with a PG for the future? Smart and MCW wouldn't be bad options. Archie Goodwin, not saying he is a PG, is also slotted to be in that area.
The talk of tanking being an unquestionably smart move is vastly overrated. NBA fans cannot be in both the boat that the lottery is rigged because the worst team has historically only gotten the top pick slightly less than the 25 percent chance the system allows and the boat where bad teams have to tank to get the best pick. Orlando is going to have a top ten pick, and there is not a LeBron, Melo, Wade, or Rose. No franchise is getting changed next year because of the play of their lottery pick, but there are some nice players (Muhammad, Zeller, McLemore, Porter, Bennett, Smart, etc). I wouldn't want to tank to get any one of them, but it is not as if a team shouldn't be pleased to come away with them.
Orlando positioned themselves relatively well because they valued young, skilled big men. Teams cannot have enough good ones, and they have a pair of them on the rookie scale for a number of years going forward, plus a project big man in Kyle O'Quinn (reasonable gamble given his size and potention). It also helps them that they don't have idiots. Afflalo, Davis, and Nelson have always carried themselves like pros. Redick is in a contract year, will probably have to go elsewhere (the Redick/Afflalo wing combination isn't going to work long-term), and is performing like a guy who realizes this. They are going to be well-positioned cap wise in the summer of 2014 to be a major player to either get a star or supplement their roster, and if their young big men continue to develop and draft well this summer they can look to make a huge leap in 2014-15.
'It also helps them that they don't have idiots.'
I have so much time for that quote
The Magic played great last year without Howard making it to the playoffs and beimg a tough out. So they upgraded SG wit Afflalo instead of J Rich and they lost Anderson but got tougher and more skilled in the post.
I thought they were gonna start Nelson, Afflalo, Hedo, G Davis, and Vucevic, wit Reddick, Al Harrington, McRoberts off the bench which is a veteran team experienced in winning.
Orlando got ultimate pros playing guard, athl etic wings, and very skilled big men.
They have definitely surprised me. I remember before the beginning of this season we had a thread of who the worst team in the league would be and the Bobcats and Magic were the two that got the most votes by people.