2018-2019 Off the Glass Team Preview Series: Orlando Magic
The Daily Dunk
The 2018-2019 NBA season starts October 16th and to get you ready for tip-off, Off the Glass is previewing all 30 teams. Today we look at the Orlando Magic.
A shockingly hot start proved unsustainable, and the Orlando Magic ended up with their worst season since 2013-14 — a pretty low bar for a team that has been stuck in rebuild hell since trading Dwight Howard. The Magic ended up bottom five in defense and bottom ten in offense, and unfortunate lottery luck meant they didn’t even get a top five pick out of it.
Another miserable season inspired the Magic to move on from coach Frank Vogel, and their once-point-guard-of-the-future Elfrid Payton. Now, a new era begins in Orlando...again.
Bismack Biyombo, C; Shelvin Mack, PG; Arron Afflalo, SG; Mario Hezonja, SF; Marreese Speights, C
Mohamed Bamba, C; Jerian Grant, PG; Timofey Mozgov, C; Melvin Frazier, SF; Isaiah Briscoe, PG
Player to Watch:
Jonathan Isaac, SF
The Magic are hopefully headed in the right direction at this point, but that won’t make this season any more pleasant to watch. This young, mismatched team is likely to struggle greatly again on both ends of the floor.
The story is pretty much the same on offense and defense. The roster has some interesting potential in the frontcourt, but it is unlikely any of it will be seen in any meaningful way due to the black hole that is the backcourt.
Together, Isaac, Bamba, and Aaron Gordon at least have some upside as a strong defensive frontcourt. Mix in Nikola Vucevic, and some of those combinations could be potent offensively as well.
But these bigs are supplemented by a group of guards who are solid at best and below replacement level at worst.
Grant, who Orlando acquired from the Chicago Bulls, has some small breakout potential. Other than that, the Magic will be running out known quantities like Evan Fournier, D.J. Augustin, and Johnathon Simmons — decent players who will only make a small impact on either end.
Even under the tutelage of new coach Steve Clifford, the Magic are likely looking at a bottom-five finish once again.
Worst Case Scenario:
Bamba struggles to find the floor in a crowded frontcourt rotation, Isaac struggles to stay healthy again (he already injured his ankle in his first preseason game), and Gordon fails to take another step forward. The front office fails to move any of the veterans for future assets, and another season goes down the drain.
Best Case Scenario:
Grant and Augustin perform close to their ceiling outcomes, and the veterans perform well enough to support strong seasons from the young guns. Bamba and Isaac look like future two-way stars, and Gordon figures out how to best use his talents to help his team win.
28-54, fourth in the Southeast Division