Last season was nothing short of painful for Orlando fans. With a slew of injuries and rampant inconsistency by the plethora of young players on the team, the Magic won just 20 games, finishing with a worse record than even the Bobcats.
This season, the young guys have had a year to develop and the Magic snagged up Victor Oladipo with the second-overall pick in the NBA Draft, likely getting the best player to come out this season. The Magic won’t be contenders in 2013 but if second-year coach Jacque Vaughn can rally the troops, and GM Rob Hennigan can use the cap room the Magic will get after this season to land a good free agent, this could be a solid team by 2014-15. For now, let’s take a look at what the Magic are working with this season.
Points Per Game: 24th
Points Allowed Per Game: 24th
Rebounds Per Game: 12th
Slowed by injury, Nelson had an up-and-down year. He posted a career-low in FG% (39 percent), put up his worst 3P% in six years (34 percent), and posted a career-worst 2.8 turnovers per game. At the same time, his scoring improved to 14.7, he shot a career-high 2.2 3PPG, and posted a career-best 7.4 APG. If he’s healthy this season, he should still be a good for 12-14 PPG, 5-7 APG, a couple of threes and the occasional steal but he’ll need to get his shooting efficiency back to a passable level, even if not his typically solid percentages.
Moore is a wildly inconsistent player and, really, not a very good one. He averaged 23 MPG with 8.7 PPG and a 41percent shooting rate before the All-Star break and just 6.5 PPG and a 37 percent shooting after. He disappeared completely at times and was a liability at others. He hasn’t looked anything like the player he was when the Celtics drafted him out of Purdue after he posted a .447 FG% and a .400 3P% in his final year.
Ronnie Price is another body on the bench, not a good player. Not on offense. Not on defense. Just not a good player.
Like so many other players on this team, Afflalo saw a big increase in field goal attempts and his efficiency suffered as he shot just 44 percent from the floor (47 percent in 2011, 50 percent in 2010) and just 30 percent from three-point range (40 percent in 2011, 42 percent in 2010). Despite all this, he posted career-highs in points (16.5), assists (3.2), and rebounds (3.7). Victor Oladipo is clearly the future at this position so Afflalo figures to see some time at small forward as well.
In his last year at Indiana, Oladipo shot a monstrous 60 percent from the floor and 44 percent from three-point range, almost unheard of for a guard. He’s also a very good rebounder and can steal the ball as well as anyone. He’s likely the best player to come out of the 2013 NBA Draft and there is a ton to like about this kid.
Lamb was unimpressive in his rookie season, shooting 37 percent from the floor and not making much of a dent in any other category. I’d expect about the same this season.
Harris came over from the Bucks at the trade deadline and immediately became a starter at power forward. A good one. In 27 games in Orlando, Harris averaged 17.3 PPG, 8.5 RPG, and 1.4 BPG while shooting 45 percent from the floor. There is a lot to like about Harris and the one good thing about playing on a team without a ton of talent is the opportunities he couldn’t get elsewhere.
Harkless was thrown into a starting role as a 19-year-old rookie and held his own. He averaged 26 MPG, 8.2 PPG, 1.2 SPG, and 4.4 RPG while shooting a solid 46 percent. He should be a very solid rotation player and this team will obviously rotate a lot of players.
Turkoglu managed to play just 11 games last season and shot a miserable 26 percent from the floor when he did make it out there. At 34, his best years are far behind him but the Magic are locked into a big deal with him and owe him $12 million this season with $6 million in guarantees. Luckily, once his contract expires, this team will actually be able to spend on a good free agent acquisition and that’s most of the value he still has.
Davis only played 34 games last season but shot a career-best 15.1 PPG and posted a career-high 7.2 RPG. His 45 percent shooting is still lower than you’d like to see from a big guy in the paint but he showed some serious improvement when given the chance. It’s hard to see him as a true starter but Big Baby certainly has the potential to be a force on the inside.
Nicholson, a rookie in 2012, seems like the better choice for a starting job. He averaged just 17 MPG, 7.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, and shot a strong 53 percent. Extrapolated over 36 minutes per game, that’s 17 points, 7.4 rebounds, and one block per game. In his last year at St. Bonaventure, Nicholson shot 57 percent and averaged 18.5 PPG, 8.4 RPG, and 2.0 BPG so he certainly has the potential to be a strong NBA starter.
Maxiell has been a mainstay on the Pistons, averaging 6.5-7.0 PPG, 5-6 RPG, and more than a block per game over the last two seasons. He’s a very good defensive talent and a very handy rotation player to have.
Vucevic had a great breakout season in his second year in the league and was the sole bright spot on last season’s Magic team. He shot 52 percent from the floor and averaged 13.1 PPG, 11.9 RPG, and 1.0 BPG. In the second half, he averaged an even more impressive 14.6 PPG and 12.8 RPG. That’s some serious talent and, just turning 23, he’s only going to get better.
Of course, the Magic have another good-looking young center. As a rookie last year, O’Quinn played just 11 MPG and posted 4.1 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 0.5 BPG. Extrapolated over 36 minutes, that’s 13.1 PPG, 11.8 RPG, and 1.5 BPG – almost identical to Vucevic. He’s a very solid center and it’ll be interesting to see how the Magic use him if he continues to dominate the boards.
Coach: Jacque Vaughn – Grade: C+
In his first year as a head coach, Vaughn led the Magic to 20 wins. It was a very young, raw team that struggled with injuries and the departure of Dwight Howard. This season, with the addition of Victor Oladipo and an extra year of growth in the front court, the Magic roster is coming together. There is still some dead weight and dead money but the Magic look like a team that could be turned into a contender by the 2014-15 season if Vaughn can get the most of his young guys.
Team Grade: C