The Orlando Magic have assembled quite a roster for the 2017-18 NBA season. The front office has excelled this off-season by infusing veterans and winning cultured players into a team of inexperienced youth.
The Orlando Magic look a hell of a lot better in year one of their new era of basketball. Under general manager, John Hammond and team president Jeff Weltman, the Magic are in evaluation mode.
Slight frustration amongst some fans loomed as the team opted to select forward Jonathan Isaac over guard Dennis Smith Jr. More confusion ensued as the team traded away a 1st round pick and 2nd round pick for next to nothing.
And then the Magic drafted another wing prospect with their remaining second round pick in Wesley Iwundu — a four year senior out of Kansas State.
Heading into free agency, rumors indicated the Orlando Magic would maintain close to the same roster from the 2016-17 campaign. Mostly due to lack of cap flexibility.
But the first change of the summer — hiring team president Jeff Weltman — proved otherwise. The second addition to the front office of John Hammond formed a familiar pairing of front office executives.
Hammond and Weltman, took a few copper pennies and turned them into a pot of gold — Magic Gold.
The Magic were able to add three quality veteran players from winning atmospheres to join the team in Marreese Speights, Shelvin Mack, and Jonathon Simmons. Seemingly, righting a wrong, the Magic added a former player for a second stint, in Arron Afflalo. Lastly, they added one hell of a big man in unknown Canadian, Khem Birch to round out the roster.
That’s a total of seven new players the team added in hopes of becoming a more competitive team.
The Orlando Magic Season Outlook
The Magic will be a better team than they were last season. Odds makers believed so and this time it is worth trusting them. Vegas lines had the Orlando Magic at the 40.5 game win mark this summer — before the team signed Afflalo, Speights, Mack, Simmons, and Birch. Rest assured those five players will add a few more wins on the year.
After five years of wandering hopelessly, the Magic have indeed found themselves a team identity. They are built to play tough man defense and run in transition offensively.
The current roster is designed to feature long armed, athletic players at every position. As one player goes to the bench, another similar player in the folds waiting to substitute in the game.
The versatility the team will have this season is something the team has focused to achieve this off-season.
As opening day approaches, expectations have dipped a bit as the Magic are projected to hover around the 32 win mark. BleacherReport.com pre-regular season power rankings land the Orlando Magic at 23.
Orlando Magic players have failed to acknowledge those rankings. In particular, Arron Afflalo and Marreese Speights have continued to bet on the Magic making the playoffs — this year. The Orlando Magic organization have remained mum about the playoffs but it’s clear that is the objective for this season.
Consistency is the Reason For Optimism
While everything the Orlando Magic can do on the court will depend on players continuing to remain consistent in improving, the area that is often forgotten is the coaching staff. While the front office executives may have changed and new consultants may be lurking around the Amway Center, the coaching staff is entering year two. That’s finally something the Magic can be proud of after playing musical chairs with their head coaches the past four years.
As head coach Frank Vogel prepares this team for their 28th NBA season, its worth noting that a Vogel led team has only missed the playoffs twice with him as a head coach — both being his first year tenures with his new NBA clubs. If history repeats itself, expect Vogel and the Magic to improve defensively and in the standings.
Assistant coach Chad Forcier is also entering his second year with the club and excels at player progression. He was one of the driving forces behind the growth of Spurs’ superstar Kwahi Leonard, and was very familiar with new Magic wing player Jonathon Simmons. Expect growth this year from all Magic players as the coaches continue to instill a winning foundation in Magic Kingdom.