The Orlando Magic were penciled for a position in the 2018 NBA lottery — for a sixth consecutive year. After a strong 6-2 record to begin the season, lets take a look back at past, present, and future expectations.
Before the season began, very few outlets favored the Orlando Magic to make any real movement from last seasons standings. From national outlets to local papers, the Orlando Magic failed to change their core of players and failed to add one of many available NBA superstars. Let’s take a look at a few previews before the season began.
Preseason Indications From Around the Web
FanSided.com Mark Carmen & Senior Editor Ian Levy
Fansided’s NBA content providers were dismissive and confident the Orlando Magic would not improve on last years second half play. The Magic improved their pace after trading away forward Serge Ibaka, but didn’t capitalize in the win column.
“How many wins for the Magic?” asked Mark Carmen. “Probably less than 40. They’re probably not a playoff team, Levy stated.” Wow, you said less than 40, I would’ve gone with less than 30 and that was complimentary.
CBS Sports Colin Ward-Henninger
CBS Sports gave the Orlando Magic less than half of a percent chance to make the playoffs with a projection of 26 wins for the 2017-18 season.
Someone in Vegas (33 wins) thinks the Magic are going to be decent this year, but SportsLine is in the exact opposite corner. The Magic are projected to win 7.2 fewer games than the Vegas line, the biggest discrepancy in this entire list. All this to say, don’t expect the Magic to be good … like, at all.
ESPN’s Kevin Pelton
ESPN rated the Orlando Magic as the 10th best team in the Eastern Conference on the year. They projected the Magic to surpass their 2016-17 win total by a handful at 32
RPM isn’t optimistic about the Magic’s chances of improving last season’s disappointing defense, ranked 24th in the league on a per-possession basis. In fact, with newcomer Marreese Speights claiming regular minutes in the frontcourt, Orlando is projected to drop to 27th in defensive rating.
Overall expectations were for the Orlando Magic to remain at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. They were destined for another NBA lottery for a sixth consecutive year. With a lack of offensive efficiency, defensive lapses, and youthful core, the Orlando Magic simply were regarded to as not ready to make a NBA leap this season.
The Here & The Now Moments For The Orlando Magic
Living in the moment is what it’s all about. Any player, coach, or executive will indicate the league is about improving on a daily basis. And taking progress one game at a time. It may sound cliché. It may even seem scripted but that’s what the NBA is about.
Around the association, many are beginning to see the Orlando Magic as more than just a collection of misfit players. Some are indicating the Magic will be a playoff team this year. No outlet has more belief in the Magic than ESPN’s blog FiveThirtyEight.com.
FiveThirtyEight.com, projected the Orlando Magic to end the season with a 37-45 record. That’s the highest win/loss ratio the Orlando Magic received from media outlet before the year officially began. They received a 45 percent chance to make the playoffs and a 1 percent chance of making the NBA Finals. Overall they had less than a 1 percent chance to win it all based on their CARMELO system points. Fast forwarding a week into the season and the Magic improved their odds significantly after an impressive 2-1 start.
The Orlando Magic improved their projected wins by five and playoff percentage by 18. That placed them at a 67 percent chance of finishing as a top eight team in the Eastern Conference. They also increased their chances of making the NBA Finals to four percent. And remain below 1 percent on winning it all.
And after another strong week, the Orlando Magic find themselves as a legit threat in the Eastern Conference.
After convincing wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs, and New Orleans Pelicans, the Magic are almost a lock to make the playoffs with an 82 percent chance. They have a seven percent chance to make the NBA Finals and a one percent chance to win it all. One percent may not seem like a lot but it’s still a chance.
Taking a look at updated projections from Synergy Basketball Stats, the Magic fare as favorites to win the Eastern Conference. Based on how they are currently performing in eight games this season, those lofty expectations appear achievable. The projections favor Orlando to win 64 games this year and lead the NBA in the win column. That’s a 137 percent win increase from just a season ago. While unlikely, it still proves the Orlando Magic are on the rise and far exceeding expectations.
The Orlando Magic wrapped up a three game road trip with a 101-99 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. The Magic had opportunities to give the game away with late game blunders. But they held on to finish with a win over another top NBA team. After last nights update by fivethirtyeight.com, the Magic are all but a guarantee to still be playing come late April.
Taking notice to the updated CARMELO system points, the Magic now have an 85 percent chance to make the playoffs. They increased their NBA Finals appearance percentage to 10 and their title chances to two percent. They are projected to finish just behind the Boston Celtics as the number two seed in the East. The boost in their projections is a testament to the players hard work and vision head coach Frank Vogel spoke about over the summer.
Future Expectations Depend on The Variables
As the season continues, many expect the Orlando Magic to fall back down to Earth. The expectation is to add a bit more to the loss column. But the expectations should be the complete opposite. After Wednesday night’s upset of the Memphis Grizzlies, the Magic learned they could compete through adversity. The Magic were already playing without starting point guard Elfrid Payton and lost backup point guard DJ Augustin to a hamstring injury. Instead of panicking, the Magic altered the lineup and featured a point guard by committee lineup. That lineup featured Jonathon Simmons, Shelvin Mack, Terrence Ross, and Evan Fournier. That’s the type of expectation the Magic should force on themselves this year — winning regardless of the situation.
The Magic currently are second in the NBA in points per game at 115, third in assists per game at 25.3, second in field goal percentage at 48.9, and first in three-point percentage at 44.2. No one is giving them a chance to continue on their remarkable and eye-opening numbers, but nothing suggests they will slow down. If anything they may improve. While most outlets are making “it’s only x amount of games” or “its early in the season” comments, the Magic continue to play one of the fastest styles of basketball in the NBA with a pace of 105.5 possessions per game ranking third in the league.
The Orlando Magic are top 10 in just about every other major statistical category. Those categories include Player Impact Estimate (53.5, 5th), Offensive Rating (109.9, 2nd), Defensive Rating (100.2, 9th), Net Rating (9.6, 4th), Assist Percentage (59.6, 8th) and Ratio (18.3, 3rd), Assist to Turnover (1.5, 6th), True Shooting (59.6, 2nd), and Effective Field Goal percentage (53.6, 2nd).
Realistically, the Orlando Magic would have to completely meltdown in order to not remain a top team in the league this year.