#27 The Orlando Magic

The Magic had an interesting offseason, simultaneously sending Arron Afflalo back to the Nuggets and Jameer Nelson to the Mavericks, while bringing in older veterans Channing Frye and Ben Gordon. Its a weird move for a team that will almost certainly be in the lottery yet again, but perhaps the Magic wanted to surround their young prospects with older leadership. But then why lose Afflalo, who is an excellent two-way guard and one of the NBA’s premier “good locker room guys”? Especially when they only got back third year man Evan Fournier, who has never averaged more than twenty minutes per game. A little puzzling to say the least.

Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter. The Magic have drafted well in the post Dwight Howard era and feature a roster that is stocked with young talent. They took Victor Oladipo with the 2nd pick last year who is an brawny, athletic 2 guard who plays excellent defense. There was a great game last year when Oladipo went head-to-head with Michael Carter-Williams of the Philadelphia 76ers and both ended up with triple-doubles. MCW won rookie of the year, but the Magic are clearly happy with their draft choice, sending away both Nelson and Afflalo and drafting Elfrid Payton, and Elfrid Payton’s hair, this year so that Oladipo can spend more time at his natural 2 spot.

The Magic are also loaded at either forward position as well, with young up-and-comers Maurice Harkless, Tobias Harris, Kyle O’Quinn, and now Channing Frye who will stretch the floor again like he did last year in Phoenix. They used their other top 10 selection on forward Aaron Gordon, who doesn’t fit very well at either SF or PF but is crazy athletic and can do stuff like this.

Still, this is going to be a team that will undoubtedly be back in the lottery come next summer. The East has gotten slightly better across the board and the Magic were the only team from the Southwest division to fail to make the postseason last year. It’s not a bad thing at all for this young team to get another full year of improving and playing with one another, but there are going to be a lot of losses along the way and these guys are not going to compete with the best of the league. If the Magic do happen to find another star in next year’s draft, this could be a dangerous team in 2015, especially as they will have the assets to pursue a major trade. Until then, I’ll be checking in on these guys on Sports Center every once and awhile.

X-Factor= Nikola Vucevik

Vucevik is the Magic’s 7’0″ hulking center and their highest paid player. While Vucevik is a double-double machine, he is by far the most experienced member of this team and may be the first to go if the Magic don’t show any signs of real improvement. No rebuilding team wants to continue paying top-shelf prices when they can grab another prospect in the draft and center is the position that tends to generate the most interest on the free-agent market.

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