Oladipo expected to continue his development this season…
The Orlando Magic are amongst the group of teams rebuilding in the NBA, but with some talented individuals on their roster this season, they will hope to improve on last year at the very least.
The Magic finished with a 23-59 record at the end of the regular season, which inevitably wasn’t enough to make the playoffs, even in the Eastern Conference.
While they were relatively impressive at home, it’s clear that their main struggles came on the road as they compiled a miserable 4-37 record away from the Amway Center.
Finishing 13th, they weren’t too far behind their more immediate rivals in the Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons, but looking over their shoulder, they were barely much better than the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks either.
Oladipo, Vucevic and Harris must step up after loss of Afflalo
A pattern has emerged in Orlando since Dwight Howard left the franchise, as they have either seen their top talents leave or they themselves have traded them in a bid to rebuild with a long-term plan in mind.
Aaron Afflalo paced the Magic with 18.2 points per game last season and was the team’s best player, but having followed the likes of Howard, J.J. Redick and Jameer Nelson out the exit door, it will down to other individuals to step up in his absence.
Rookie point guard Elfrid Payton could be given the keys to drive the offensive unit, while Oladipo will be given more freedom to execute his strengths off the ball and grow into the go-to guy for this team.
Meanwhile, expect Nikola Vucevic to be a steady and consistent player with the likes of Jason Maxiell and Maurice Harkless playing their roles for the team. Tobias Harris will likely be given more responsibility while rookie Aaron Gordon will give this roster some defensive reinforcement.
It will also be interesting to monitor the progress of Frenchman Evan Fournier after his impressive displays at the FIBA World Cup this summer, but ultimately, if the Magic are to improve, they will need to see real development in their young players across the board.
The Magic will be pushing to get closer to the playoffs this time round, but unfortunately, I just don’t see it happening. They will likely improve on their 23-win season last year given that the younger players have more experience at this level now, but ultimately, it won’t be enough to compete even in a weak Eastern Conference.
The top eight places are relatively easy to predict, although there is always room for a shock and Orlando will hope to be involved in that race for the final eighth spot.
However, unless Oladipo has a serious break-out year or their rookies and experienced heads suddenly find an immediate balance that makes life difficult for any of their opponents, they will be facing another year looking at the lottery and which Draft picks they can get to improve.