2019-20 NBA Team Preview Series: Orlando Magic
Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images
The 2019-2020 NBA season starts October 22nd and to get you ready for tip-off, Off the Glass is previewing all 30 teams. Today we look at the Orlando Magic.
2018-2019 Record: 42-40, 1st in the Southeast Division. Lost 1-4 to the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
Season Recap: The Orlando Magic exceeded all expectations last year under new head coach Steve Clifford. The Magic became a ferocious defense under Clifford with all sorts of length that helped them get to 8th in Defensive Rating. They enjoyed career seasons from Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross while having an amazing season in terms of injury luck. No one from their top six missed more than seven games last season. They played great basketball down the stretch, going 11-2 to close out the season and take the 7th seed in the East. They even won a game against the eventual champion Toronto Raptors in the first round.
Key Losses: Jerian Grant, G; Jarell Martin, F; Timofey Mozgov, C;
Key Additions: Al-Farouq Aminu, F;
Preview: The Magic lost nothing from their team last season that arrived ahead of schedule finishing 7th in the Eastern Conference. They will add to that group with Al-Farouq Aminu, a wing capable of defending multiple positions and the ability to hit three-point shots. In addition to Aminu, the Magic acquired former number one pick Markelle Fultz last season and he could be an interesting player to add to this team. Fultz has shown very few flashes in his first two seasons in the NBA, but his talent cannot be denied. Even without Fultz, the Magic return a team that is young and still improving. In order to keep improving, the Magic will need to become more consistent on the offensive end. Nikola Vucevic will need to have another great season and Aaron Gordon will need to do more for this team on the offensive end. The efficiency of the Magic was actually good on the offensive end, but their area of struggle is the free-throw line. The team ranked dead last in the league in free throw attempts and makes last season. Getting easy buckets and getting to the free-throw line more consistently gives this Magic team the chance to play with anybody, that is how good their defense can be.
Player to Watch: Markelle Fultz
Team X-Factor: Free-Throws
Worst Case Scenario: Nikola Vucevic struggles to find success, DJ Augustin cannot get it done anymore, Markelle Fultz never plays, and the Magic go back to lottery land.
Best Case Scenario: The Magic are able to replicate their success of last season and get major contributions from their young guys, Markelle Fultz, Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, and Mo Bamba. This pushes them up the Eastern Conference standings and they find themselves hosting a first round series for the first time since the Dwight Howard era.
Actual 2019-2020 Prediction: 44-38, 2nd Southeast Division