• Seth Clark

The Other Guys: D.J. Augustin

USA Today

Close your eyes with me for a second.

(Figuratively. Keep reading.)

Imagine you work for a sales company, and every time you’re on the sales floor, your company does better, your company makes more money, and your coworkers work harder. Despite this, every time you read the company newsletter, it says that your department needs to get better at sales and to do that, it needs someone better than you. That hurts.

So your company makes a splashy new hire. They pay him the big bucks and send all the big fish his way. That’s a level of disrespect that you physically feel in your gut. They support him like they’ve never supported you. And every time that next-level opportunity comes up, it lands in his lap...and he blows it; he freezes up like he forgot how to talk. This is AGONY.

This is what it’s like to be D.J. Augustin.

Augustin has been a stud for the Orlando Magic this year. With all the talk of Nikola Vucevic playing like an All-Star - which he has - Augustin has been shunted off to the side. Perhaps even worse is that he’s having his best season in five years, is as much of a contributor to the Magic’s playoff push as anyone in Orlando, and has to hear the same refrain from the media over and over again: ‘if only the Magic had a point guard.’

As a proud Orlando Magic fan I’ve seen on television and in person Augustin’s many contributions on a game-to-game basis. He’s tenacious: he plays like every game is his last -- like his hair’s on fire. He plays like someone who doesn’t know where his next contract will come from; he plays like someone who has bounced around the league, been on eight teams in ten years, and never had a job handed to him. The desperation Augustin brings to the court is tangible. Augustin lights the fire to help the Magic burn bright.

It’s not just the eye-test that he passes, though. Check the point guard rankings for Win Shares. The top three are Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving, and Stephen Curry -- fair enough. Eighth on the list? Darryl Gerard Augustin Jr., ahead of such royalty as Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Kemba Walker, and Kyle Lowry. Why do the Magic need a better point guard?

Six Magic line-ups have played more than 100 minutes together. Five of them have positive net ratings, and five of them include Augustin - want to guess how much overlap there is between those five? Sure, Augustin isn’t a natural scorer like the new wave of elite point guards in the NBA, but somewhere along the way we’ve forgotten that the purpose of a point guard is to elevate his teammates. Augustin is in the top 30 in assists per game and top 25 in assist-to-turnover ratio. Why do the Magic need a better point guard?

Nikola Vucevic has been on the Magic since the 2012-13 season, but had never made the All-Star Game. Suddenly, Augustin becomes the full-time starter at the point, and lo and behold ‘Vooch’ is in Charlotte in mid-February. Coincidence? I think not. Why do the Magic need a better point guard?

Stop saying Markelle Fultz and Michael Carter-Williams are going to solve the Magic’s Point Guard problems. They won’t because the Magic don’t have a point guard problem. D.J. Augustin is all the Magic need to bring playoff basketball back to Orlando.

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