At this point in the season, the Orlando Magic are considered one of the bottom tier teams in the league. Because of the past few seasons, not many are familiar with the players on the Magic roster which makes it hard for them to compete for individual awards.
Lack of nationally televised games also has a role in the player’s popularity. But the biggest reason the Orlando Magic players get left out of individual awards talk is lack of winning.
This past season the NBA held its first player awards show and not one Magic player was nominated for anything. It’s hard to believe that Aaron Gordon did not have a dunk worthy of a nomination. Aside from the dunk of the year or assist of the year the Orlando Magic are not even thought of for the major awards in order for that to change the team has to get better and win.
These early awards predictions show how this team needs to play in order to progress and finally realize their potential.
Most Valuable Player
Elfrid Payton will be the driving force of the Orlando Magic if they are going to be successful. On the offensive end, he has to run the offense and get guys into the right place. The second half of the season Payton showed that he is capable of getting to the basket as well as finding the open man. As has been said every season since he entered the league, Payton must improve his shooting. If Elfrid Payton can get opponents to respect his jump shot he becomes much more of a threat.
On the defensive end, Payton has shown the ability to be pesky. When he is giving his all on defense the rest of the team’s intensity is ratcheted up a notch. The NBA has become a guard-heavy league. Payton will be tasked with putting pressure on opponents primary ball handler in most situations. Being able to disrupt the flow of an offense and cause turnovers on the perimeter will keep the Magic competitive.
Most Improved Player
Mario Hezonja has to be better this season. Having consistency in the coaching staff has helped Hezonja to know his role on the team. No longer wondering how he fits in Mario will return this season playing with confidence. On an Orlando Magic team that lacks shooting Hezonja only needs to provide a consistent deep threat to be effective. Hezonja is capable of being the teams best shooter. He most likely will not begin the season as a starter but says that is one of his goals. Starting at one of the wing positions is a lofty goal and if Hezonja can keep opponents honest with the three ball, he might get a chance.
Hezonja is capable of being the teams best shooter. He most likely will not begin the season as a starter but says that is one of his goals. Starting at one of the wing positions is a lofty goal and if Hezonja can keep opponents honest with the three ball, he might get a chance.
Defensive Player of the Year
Aaron Gordon was undoubtedly the Orlando Magic’s best defender last season. Because if his versatility Gordon will be asked to cover opponents best scoring threat no matter what their position(for the most part). If the Orlando Magic are going to be a playoff contender Gordon will need to be a lockdown defender.
Aside from being the best defender for the Magic, Gordon needs to be good enough to get in the DPOY conversation for the entire NBA.
Newcomer of the Year
The addition of Jonathon Simmons gives the Orlando Magic exactly what they were missing during this entire rebuild. Simmons brings attitude and accountability to the team. Coming from a winning organization in the San Antonio Spurs Simmons knows what it takes to be a championship contender.
Simmons is a hard worker and will push the rest of the team to get better. Whether he ends up a starter or comes off the bench Simmons’ grit will be important to the Magic. He wants to be a superstar in this league. If Jonathon Simmons continues to play at a high level like he did in the playoffs he will help the Magic get to where they want to go.
Sixth Man of the Year
Jonathan Isaac will be brought along slowly in his rookie season. The Magic are switching Isaac between the small forward and power forward positions to take advantage of his length and athletism. At the beginning of the season, Orlando will only need Isaac to contribute with defense and rebounding. As the season progresses his role on the offensive end will get more defined.
Because of his size and agility, Isaac can be inserted into the lineup for any player positions 2-5. He may not be the first man off the bench. The depth at shooting guard and small forward will likely lead to one of the wings being the sixth man to start the season. Once Isaac gets comfortable with the NBA game he will be easy to bring in to relieve anyone if he hasn’t already grabbed a starting job.
If the Magic can get these types of contributions from each of these players they will be in the playoff hunt. Even more importantly the Orlando Magic will have a base to build on the future of their organization.