Are The Orlando Magic Finally Embracing A Tank To Improve Their Draft Lottery Odds

The NBA regular season has just about six weeks remaining. And it appears the Orlando Magic are attempting to improve their draft lottery odds.

Two weeks ago, the NBA sent out a memo to all 30 teams about tanking after Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban publicly announced his Mavericks best interests were to throw games. That statement cost the Mavericks owner $600,000.

A week ago, the Chicago Bulls received a stern warning from the NBA about resting healthy players. They were holding out healthy starters to reduce their chances of winning games.

The tanking agenda is now to the point that media-related sites are warning the NBA office about other lottery bound teams possibly tanking.

But all seems well down in Central Florida. The Orlando Magic seem to be going about a possible tanking move the right way. Their latest moves come just in time as they prepare to play against some of its stiffest competition to the bottom of the standings. 

It’s all about the player’s health

A player’s health is of the utmost importance to a team’s success. Some teams can successfully game plan and remain competitive through injuries. Others completely fall flat on their faces until certain players return.

The Orlando Magic have had a long season of injuries. They began the season with an unexpected 8-4 mark with impressive wins over teams like the San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers. Those 12 games had many people talking about the end of the teams current five-year playoff drought. But those talks quickly subdued. Over the course of the next 51 games they would only manage to win 12 games.

In several interviews, Magic President of Basketball Operations, Jeff Weltman, stated that injuries were a big issue this season. Looking at the numbers he is correct. Every starter on the team has missed time due to some type of injury. In total, starters have missed a combined 88 games this season and counting. Combine those games with the games missed by rookie Jonathan Isaac and that number rises to 122 on the season.

As a result, the Orlando Magic have underperformed and headed towards a sixth consecutive lottery appearance.

Coincidence or not?

The months of March and April will be lottery defining months in the NBA. For the Orlando Magic, their next 13 games will match up against 7 other lottery teams.

During their March 7th matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Magic suffered three key injuries to their starting lineup. Team leading scorer Aaron Gordon suffered his second concussion of the season after a collision with Lakers forward Julius Randle. According to John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com, Gordon will miss court action and must pass the NBA concussion protocol before returning.

The team’s second leading scorer, Evan Fournier, managed to sprain his MCL in his left knee which may end his season. Fournier has been playing very well as of late and his scoring prowess is sure to be missed.

Point guard DJ Augustin sprained his right ankle which has him expected to miss time on the court as well.

It’s never a positive to see a player go down with an injury but the Magic aren’t likely to be disappointed by having to sit a few of their key players.

Tanking seems to be on the horizon

Is it coincidence that the Orlando Magic are moving into what will be their easiest stretch of the remaining season and now have significant amount of injuries biting the team?

In theory, absolutely not.

Its been long rumored that acquiring a top draft pick in this upcoming 2018 draft was a priority for this team. Although no one within management has publicly stated or supported such claims, it’s all but assumed the Magic are preparing themselves for the summer.

Doomed with salary cap restrictions and bad contracts, the Magic must creatively find ways to improve this roster before the start of the 2018-2019 season.

The most effective hope for the future will be to strengthen positions through the upcoming NBA Draft. The Magic have scouted most of the top 10 prospects and are surely looking at non lottery talents who could become gems.

The Magic have a glaring hole at the point guard position after trading away former starter, Elfrid Payton, to the Phoenix Suns just minutes before the trade deadline.

With top prospects Trae Young and Luka Doncic vying for top point guard honors, Orlando could be looking to improve their chances to make sure they can select one of the two.

The Final Verdict

While never wanting to accuse a team of purposely losing games, it’s hard not to see the warning signs.

Is it just a string of good, eh, bad, luck that the team is suffering injuries or a thought out strategy? If the Orlando Magic were vying for a playoff spot instead of lottery odds, would players still be on the injured report? Would Jonathan Isaac have missed 44 games due to an ankle sprain? Would Terrence Ross have been back on the floor at this point from his knee injury?

While it’s never assumed an injury is not as severe as being reported, the signs are just too apparent for the draft improvement cause.

Either way, it’s clear that the Orlando Magic are positioning themselves for the best draft spot available.

 

 

Strange Rule Dooms Orlando Magic In Loss To Los Angeles Lakers

Rules are not meant to be broken. The Orlando Magic learned that lesson the hard way after a tough 107-108 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers Wednesday night.

“Because there’s no possession when the clock goes off, the ruling is that there’s a jump ball, center circle, the rule is 13E-9-2. And anytime there is either an inadvertent whistle and/or a horn when the ball is in the air, there’s no possession and we go center circle, jump ball.” – NBA Crew Chief Bill Spooner

And with that rule, the Orlando Magic found themselves losers of their second game in a row Wednesday night.

The Orlando Magic felt cheated. Hurt. Flat out disappointed. A NBA rule took their final possession taken away from them because of a game clock error.

“We feel cheated,” Orlando forward Aaron Gordon stated in the locker room. “It felt like they gave them the game. It’s just a terrible end to a game of basketball. They didn’t even give us a chance to win. And that’s the last time we see them. We have to wait a year to play them again. They have gotta change that rule and I think they will.”

The Magic made a late 10-0 run to put themselves up one point just before fouling Laker’s center Brook Lopez. Lopez, who finished with 27 points on the night, made two free throws that put the Los Angeles Lakers up for what would be the final possession.

With six-tenths of a second left, the Magic attempted an inbound alley-oop towards the rim for forward Aaron Gordon. The shot clock began as the ball was thrown and the buzzer sounded in the air before being touched by anyone or anything. Based on the current NBA rule, the shot clock issue required a jump ball at center court. After the jump ball, the Lakers swatted the ball away as the real game clock expired.

Aaron Gordon most critical of necessary change

Gordon seemed to be most vocal about the need for a rule change as he finished with 28 points and 14 rebounds.

“Vucevic played perfect defense,” Gordon told reporters. “They called a foul. They gave them the game. For the most part the referees did a good job throughout the game. Just down the stretch it was bad. So they’ve got to change the rule.”

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After the game was over, head coach Frank Vogel made critical comments about the officiating late in the game as well.

” They took the ball from us and made it a jump ball with 0.6 seconds, which kills any chance of us tying the game or winning the game,”Vogel said. “I don’t know. It’s just common sense would tell me that in that situation, the clock started early, that you do redo the possession. They felt otherwise.”

Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic finishes with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball ended the game with 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists.

The Orlando Magic Have Options As The Trade Deadline Approaches

This is the time of year the trade winds start brewing in Orlando. The 2018 trade deadline is approaching and the Orlando Magic have options.

Wins are difficult to acquire for the Orlando Magic this year. Eight of the teams wins, came within the first 12 games of the season.

The 2017-18 season is going in the history books as another lost season for the Orlando Magic.

Hope for the team’s future is not as lost.

This is the time of year, teams look at their respective rosters and gauge if they will maneuver for a playoff run or if they are fishing for a top lottery pick. The Magic are headed towards the latter scenario.

This will be the first trade deadline for Hammond and president of basketball operations, Jeff Weltman, with the Orlando Magic. Weltman stated before the season began, that this would be an evaluation season for the team. He included the Orlando Magic would do their due diligence and evaluate what each players value is and would be towards the Magic’s future. And this upcoming deadline will prove to be a true test of their evaluation process.

The season has been a disappointment thus far at the midway point but the Magic will have an opportunity to change their misfortunes.

A few rumors have already surfaced that link the Magic towards a core shakeup. The most common name involved is wingman Evan Fournier. But the Magic are not looking to make a deal just to please the public’s perception of the teams flaws. If a favorable deal surfaces, then management will choose whether or not to make a deal. But don’t expect it to be for pennies on the dollar.

In an interview with ESPN Orlando Scott Anez, Jeff Weltman indicated the Magic would receive calls for just about everyone on the roster. Teams around the league view Orlando as a franchise who may make a deal to give them a sense of new direction. What’s not clear is the direction the Orlando Magic intend to take. Magic brass has been quite mum on their future intentions but the team is willing to listen to all offers. Only the deals aligning with the long-term vision will be given a second look. And this team has a few options ahead of the trade deadline.

Blow It Up and Build From Scratch

The Orlando Magic could choose to start the new era of Magic basketball by unloading everyone on the roster not in the long-term plans. The Magic have value in their current players and teams around the league recognize it. That talent just hasn’t been able to mesh well together in Orlando and that could lead the team into moving on from anyone not in the long-term plans.

Most of the current players would be easy to move because of their current contract status but realistically all of them could be serviceable to another team under the right situation.

A move of this magnitude would mean the Magic would have to embrace another three to five years of rebuilding.

As of now, reports indicate forward Aaron Gordon and rookie Jonathan Issac to be out of trade inclusions. Those two figure to be the two players the current regime intend to build around. Everyone else should be expendable for the right price under this plan.

Retain the Current Core of Players and Add Pieces

The Orlando Magic are not a team incapable of winning. Weltman stated the Magic were an astounding 8-4 when everyone was healthy and played their team roles. Clearly an indication the team is capable of winning. They sported a top five offensive unit during that stretch and top five overall net efficiency rating. But the team had deficiencies in the rebounding area and efficient scoring from the guard positions.

Those needs could be addressed via the draft and or free agency this summer. If the team felt they could win sooner with current players on the roster then the core may be around longer than this season.

A key issue the Magic have endured this season is injuries. Injuries may as well have an assigned Orlando Magic jersey. The Magic were off to a torrid start shooting the ball that simply couldn’t be sustained all season. But with a healthy roster, the team could have competed in the Eastern Conference.

It’s already been confirmed the Magic have scouted highly rated players like Oklahoma Sooner’s Trae Young and Real Madrid’s Luka Doncic this season. Both players offer dynamics that the team currently does not possess in playmaking and shooting. Orlando will consider both players if they become available to the team during the 2018 NBA Draft.

The Magic are not done scouting and will continue to gather information on other top rated NBA prospects including top rated front court players like Arizona Wildcat Deandre Ayton, Duke Blue Devil Marvin Bagley III, and Missouri Tiger Michael Porter Jr.

The newcoming NBA rookies are sure to be intriguing. But the Orlando Magic will have to be strategic in free agency as well to fill out the roster. Last summer, the Magic signed veteran free agents who could contribute to the team immediately. This summer should be no different. The team must continue to add strong veterans who can mentor and lead this ball club into a winning season.

While maintaining the current core players past this year may not be a fan favorite idea, it’s highly plausible and must remain in play if the team values improving and winning over simply getting younger and starting from scratch.

Trade For A Bona-Fide Superstar

The last scenario that favors Orlando at the moment, is to push for an established star player. The Orlando Magic ar not the star chasing type of team. Usually they end up with a borderline star type of player — or a player past his prime. This regime will be no different. Current reports indicate Orlando would be willing to pull the trigger only if the right deal came along.

The Magic are not an attractive team for the league’s star players. But that doesn’t mean they should not make the pitch If they find a star worth pursuing.

Several league marquee players are on the trade market. Their current situations are not quite panning out as expected. That’s a window of opportunity for Orlando — however small it may be.

The Magic will have a difficult task of signing a star player outright this summer. A trade is the only realistic option. To do so, Orlando must first be able to convince a star player of greener pastures soon to come. Only 10 teams will have more cap space than the Magic this summer to pursue players. Combine that idea with the thought of playing with a potential number one pick and a player like Aaron Gordon or Jonathan Isaac and it just may be possible.

Players such as Oklahoma Thunder’s Paul George and Charlotte Hornets Kemba Walker are a couple of players the Magic could choose to target for a rebuild. George makes the most sense due to his long history with head coach Frank Vogel. But nothing is likely to gain traction until closer to the February 8th trade deadline.

Whatever process Hammond and Weltman decide to take the team, the Magic community will have to trust that it’s for best.

But also trust that it won’t come at a discounted price as the Magic have options.

Post Game Reactions: Orlando Magic Welcome Elfrid Payton Back With A Win Over The New York Knicks

The Orlando Magic found their offense Wednesday night against the visiting New York Knicks. Losers of two in a row, the Orlando Magic of old returned and continued their strong team effort play defeating the Knicks 112-99.

The New York Knicks (6-5) were expecting to have Kristaps Porzingis on their trip to Florida. The Orlando Magic (7-4) were hoping but not expecting to have point guard Elfrid Payton. Both received unexpected surprises.

A little over an hour before game time, New York revealed Porzingis would not play due to a right ankle sprain and right elbow contusion. Around the same time, the Orlando Magic announced Elfrid Payton would return from his eight game absence due to a nagging hamstring injury.

The Return of Elfrid Payton

The Magic offense showed why Elfrid Payton was so valuable to what they want to do this season. Payton consistently pushed the ball in transition and found the open man either cutting to the rim or spot up for an open three. On the opening play of the game, Payton found Aaron Gordon for an easy open alley-oop connection. A few plays later, he found an open Evan Fournier in the corner for a three. After the game, Payton stated that was his purpose. “That’s what I’m here for, to make everybody job as easy as possible”. Payton finished with 11 points, 11 assists, and six rebounds on the night.

Offensive Flow and Tempo

The Orlando Magic ended the game with 30 assists on 46 made baskets. It was apparent the Magic needed Elfrid Payton back for the offense to find fluidity once again. The Magic converted on 54 percent of their shot attempts and shot a sizzling 46 percent from three.

They seemed to have returned to their old selves as everyone contributed in a Magic win. The Magic had three players score 20 points or more and stayed true to their playing style of pushing the tempo every chance possible. Speaking to Evan Fournier after the game, he reiterated the importance of having Payton back for the offense. “It definitely feels better. We only had one point guard for two games, and we lost those games by 20. Again, that’s not a coincidence.” Fournier tallied 23 points for the Magic.

Center Nikola Vucevic led the Magic in scoring with 24 points and forward Aaron Gordon added 21 points, including going 4-6 from three.

Defensive Tenacity

On the defensive end, Orlando kept their hands active. The Magic forced the Knicks into 23 turnovers and several key blocks down the stretch. Orlando played smothering defense holding the Knicks to just 23 points in the fourth period. Forward Aaron Gordon reminded his former teammate, Kyle O’Quinn of the Magic defense with an emphatic block at the rim that created another Knicks turnover. The Magic had a season high 16 steals with Fournier responsible for creating five.

No Porzingis, Big Problem For the Knicks

The New York Knicks felt the absence of Kristaps Porzingis and his ability to create offense. Porzingis is second in scoring in the NBA at just over 30 points a game. His absence and points needed to be replicated in order for the Knicks to have a chance at pulling off the upset win in Orlando. The only Knick to step up and show some consistent scoring for the Knicks was Tim Hardaway Jr. who led the game in scoring with 26 points and 11 rebounds.

Orlando Magic , New York Knicks , Elfrid Payton , Tim Hardaway Jr. , The Oliver's Twist

Forward Michael Beasley started for Porzingis and was inefficient and ineffective finishing with four points on the night in 20 minutes of game action.

Orlando Magic Are Trending Up With Latest Win-Loss Projections

The Knicks kept pace in the game until the fourth quarter. That’s when swingman Jonathon Simmons single-handedly pushed the game out of reach for the Knicks. Simmons entered the fourth quarter and scored 11 straight points to essentially secure the Magic lead. He finished with 16 points. Vogel credits Simmons being back on the wing in Payton’s return as the reason for his effectiveness. “When we’re at our best, its with the starting unit doing what they are doing and Simmons coming in and running the show with the second unit.”

The Magic will have Thursday off as they prepare for a four game west coast trip beginning Friday night against the Phoenix Suns (4-8).

Should The Orlando Magic Be Concerned About Their Ball Movement?

Ball movement is the key to the Orlando Magic’s early season success. The Magic have done a terrific job of finding the extra man to create better scoring opportunities for the team. But does the team have reasons to believe Aaron Gordon is not buying into the system?

The Orlando Magic have adjusted their offense to move the ball from one side of the floor to the other. The objective is to keep defenses off balance. At least, that’s the strategy they have used during the absences of Aaron Gordon and guard Elfrid Payton. And it seems to be working.

The Orlando Magic rank fourth in pace (108.1),  third in points per game (119), first in three-point percentage (45.5), and second in assists per game (25) in the league. The Magic are finally playing the way Frank Vogel envisioned the offense would this summer.

On Tuesday night after a hard fought home win against the Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Sentinel reporter Josh Robbins had an opportunity to catch up with Magic player Evan Fournier.

“I’m glad that we got the ‘W,’ but there’s a lesson in this game,” Fournier told Robbins after the Brooklyn game.

“We got away from moving the ball today, and we can’t have that. We’re not the type of team that can just iso-ball or just do a pick-and-roll, pick-and-roll, pick-and-roll. Our strength is with body movement and ball movement, and we basically waited three quarters to do that.”

While encouraging as it was to get a win, the Magic may need to proceed with a bit of caution.

Forward Aaron Gordon returned against the Nets and suddenly ball movement stopped flowing as fluidly as previous games. While Gordon posted a career 41 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, at times you could see that flow of the offense stagnating.

Against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando recorded 13 assists on their first 14 made shots. Note that forward Aaron Gordon was not available to play that game due to injury. Everyone understands that Gordon is an essential piece to the Magic puzzle. But the team can not afford to lose momentum — or chemistry — after posting a 3-1 start to the season.

The Magic will have to continue to move the ball and trust in each if they are to continue on their offensive dominance.

 

Situational Lineups for the Orlando Magic for 2017-18 NBA Season

A new NBA season is drawing near for the Orlando Magic. The team made a valiant effort to restructure the organization as best they could to change recent franchise misfortunes. With many player changes, expect to see the Orlando Magic use situational lineups this season.

The Orlando Magic have options with who to play this upcoming season. The team added seven new players this off-season to improve their erratic, inconsistent play from a year ago. Options on who to play and when to play them was put on a limitation because of the roster and personnel injuries.

That will not be the case this season.

If the regular season follows a similar path of the preseason, the Vogel will continue to put his players in a position of trust — earned trust. Certain situations have allowed players to show they have earned the right to have their number called upon.

When the Magic find themselves in live game situations, they will need to know exactly which players give them the best opportunity to be successful.

Approaching opening day against the visiting Miami Heat, we will analyze the best situational lineups for the Orlando Magic this upcoming season.

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The Tracy McGrady Effect : Aaron Gordon

The Orlando Magic announced last week that Hall of Famer, Tracy Mcgrady, would be joining the organization. In a short time, McGrady has already had an impact with forward Aaron Gordon.

Tracy McGrady accepted a role in the Magic organization as a special assistant to CEO Alex Martins. Outside of the prestige he brings to the team, McGrady will have a huge influence on the court. The day after the union was made public, McGrady attended the Orlando Magic practice talking with various players. He spent lots of time with Aaron Gordon giving him tips on how to improve his offense.

Taking the Lead

Tracy McGrady made a name for himself in Orlando after signing in free agency. Like Gordon, McGrady was considered a raw talent with endless potential. He was long, athletic, and at 6’8″ he was a matchup nightmare for defenders. McGrady spent the first three years of his career in Toronto mostly coming off the bench. He showed flashes of brilliance but still deferred to the veterans on the team. When signing with the Orlando Magic, McGrady was to be paired with all-star Grant Hill. Hill never fully recovered from an ankle injury and left McGrady to carry the load for Orlando.

The Jump

Similar to McGrady, the first three seasons Gordon elected to defer to other players. After three seasons in the league, both McGrady and Gordon realized that they are the best athlete on the team. Mcgrady was averaging 15.4 points in 31.2 minutes per game his third season in Toronto. His first season in Orlando his averages jumped up to 26.8 points and 40.1 minutes per game. Last season Gordon averaged 12.7 points in 28.7 minutes per game. In the last three preseason games, he has averaged 21 points in 26.3 minutes. Although its just preseason that is a pretty big jump in production. Gordon has always been known for his defense, now that his offense has caught up the Magic will be scary.

 

DATE OPP SCORE MIN FGM-FGA FG% 3PM-3PA 3P% FTM-FTA FT% REB AST PTS STL PF TO PTS
Tue 10/10 W 103-98 38 11-24 .458 2-7 .286 3-4 .750 11 1 27 1 3 1 27
Sat 10/7 W 93-90 21 9-14 .643 1-1 1.000 0-0 .000 6 1 19 0 1 3 19
Thu 10/5 W 112-89 20 6-12 .500 1-4 .250 4-5 .800 10 0 17 0 1 1 17

Early Returns

Gordon has shown he can be the go-to guy for the Orlando Magic. Coach Frank Vogel is steadily increasing the minutes for his starting lineup to get them use to regular season rotations. In Gordon’s last game against the San Antonio Spurs he played 38 minutes and recorded a double-double (27 points, 11 rebounds). Being able to interact with Tracy McGrady consistently and pick his brain has been valuable. McGrady sees the potential in Gordon. John Denton of Orlandomagic.com spoke to Mcgrady and he had this to say.

“I’ve been talking to him and I know his potential,’’ McGrady said of his talks with Gordon. “He’s extremely athletic and has all the athleticism in the world and now he just has to work on the mental aspect of the game. How do we take our physical ability and turn that into the same mental capacity in games? That’s what has to translate for him.

“He has to believe in himself with what he’s doing and let’s see if he can do that,’’ McGrady added. “I think he has all the tools to do that – almost 6-10 and a freakish athlete – but it’s still a growing process for him. It’s a transition he’s going through and for me to be around here and having gone through that, I can help him in so many ways.’’

Orlando Magic Swingman Aaron Gordon is Hopeful to Make The All-Star Leap This Year

The addition of Tracy McGrady to the Orlando Magic organization is paying off already. The more time McGrady spends with Aaron Gordon the closer he will be to making a leap in his progression.

Early Orlando Magic Individual Awards Predictions

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

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

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

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

Jonathon Simmons

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

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.

 

 

 

Orlando Magic Swingman Aaron Gordon is Hopeful to Make The All-Star Leap This Year

Aaron Gordon is about to enter his fourth year in the NBA with the Orlando Magic. This season he is hopeful to earn his first all-star game appearance.

The time has come for Aaron Gordon to stop being a player full of potential. He is due for a breakout season with the Orlando Magic. A season in which he hopes to earn all-star honors.

The Orlando Magic have not rostered a team all-star since Dwight Howard left town in 2012. Despite selecting in the lottery every year after Howard’s departure, the team has missed on elevating a player to all-star status. But Aaron Gordon is hopeful to change that notion this season.

Gordon was asked during the Orlando Magic Media Day if he was expecting to attend the all-star game in Los Angeles, California this season. His response was simple, “Hopefully as a player.”

His response may be closer to a reality than most will give him credit.

The Eastern Conference lost a lot of its luster this off-season which leaves a hole at the forward position for the all-star game this season. The conference lost forwards Carmelo Anthony, Paul George, Paul Millsap, and Jimmy Butler to the west. The only incoming gain to the conference was Boston Celtics forward, Gordon Hayward. That gives Aaron Gordon a chance to make the team.

Last season, Aaron Gordon played both forward positions for the Orlando Magic. He saw minimum success on the perimeter offensively but thrived once he moved back to the paint. Gordon told The Oliver’s Twist during media day, that he is capable of scoring but that would not be his primary focus.

“Last season I had a few 20s and a couple 30s [point games]. I feel like I can definitely score in this league.”

While scoring is not a mandatory criteria for making an all-star team, is definitely helps support the case. Last season, of the 24 total all-stars to participate, only three players failed to average more than 20 points per game. Those three were Draymond Green (10.2), DeAndre Jordan (12.7), and Marc Gasol (19.5). While they didn’t score much, they excelled in other areas of the game. Something Gordon is still learning to do for the Orlando Magic.

Gordon is a solid rebounder and above average defender for the Orlando Magic. Defensively he is the best isolation defender in the roster. If Gordon expects to make a leap in his game this year, he will have to get more involved offensively and remain aggressive in scoring. He has proved capable but now he must prove to be reliably consistent.

The Orlando Magic Are Taking This Upcoming Season Day By Day

If the Orlando Magic hope to grow as a team, they will need Aaron Gordon to help them in his fourth year — all-star or not.

 

Orlando Magic Notes: What is the next step for Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon?

The Orlando Magic are revving up the rebuild engines. If they truly are to turn the corner of their current rebuild process, they will need Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon to cement themselves as cornerstone pieces.

The Orlando Magic believe they have improved their roster heading into next season. The team has added eight new players this summer in an attempt to further the development of the team. They also have tenured players working hard this summer to expand their games. Of those tenured players, Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon are the two who must take the next step in expansion for the Magic to build off last season.

Elfrid Payton

Elfrid Payton had a season of mixed results last year. Payton saw his starting role relinquished twice in favor of inferior players. And twice he was able to regain his starter status. Amidst trade rumors, he finished the year on a statistical increase in points, rebounds, and assists. Payton is the Orlando Magic’s all-time triple-double leader. He trailed superstars Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, James Harden and up-and-comer Nikola Jokic in triple doubles last season at five on the year. Payton did not have the resources needed last year to improve his game. He desperately needed shooters and he started the year with a roster full of big men who lacked the ability to knock down perimeter shots. The only legitimate threats were Evan Fournier and Jodie Meeks — when he was healthy.

Elfrid Payton is naturally a pass first point guard. His strength is attacking the paint and breaking down defenses. He plays solid defense on the perimeter but needs to improve his ability to guard the pick and roll.

Elfrid Payton,Orlando Magic, Sports, Florida Sports, The Oliver's twist

What makes this coming year outlook so different with Payton is his performance after the all-star break last season. The cohesion and chemistry with the starting five improved vastly after the trade of forward Serge Ibaka. After figuring out everyone’s role and how coach Frank Vogel wanted the team to play, Payton was visibly more comfortable and began to play up to his forecasted potential that made him a lottery pick in 2013.

The Orlando Magic have a slew of other capable defenders such as Jonathon Simmons, Jonathan Isaac, and Aaron Gordon to help fight over pick and rolls and screens which should allow Payton to become more aggressive on defense

This summer he has been working with the likes of Chris Paul on improving his game and it should pay dividends for him this year.

Aaron Gordon

Aaron Gordon‘s career has been defined with injuries. Many Magic fans were getting frustrated with Gordon and his never-ending series of freak injuries. It seemed as if every year right before the season started he would endure an injury. Last season was about staying healthy for Aaron Gordon and starting the season on a positive note.

With the addition of Serge Ibaka, Aaron Gordon was anointed as the team’s starting small forward. While he showed signs of improvement as the season went on, he was clearly out of position. After the all-star break, the line-up changed and he was moved back to the power forward position exclusively. That’s where he displayed the playing style that got him to the NBA. Gordon excelled by using his size and athleticism to exploit mismatches. After the break, Gordon nearly averaged a double-double in points and rebounds.

Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic, Florida Sports, The Oliver's Twist

Aaron Gordon’s shooting woes, doomed him as a small forward. While capable of knocking down the three ball, he failed to do so efficiently. His current strengths, indicated he needed to be close to the basket. Recent indications are for Gordon to become a versatile stretch-four who can mix and match his court duties. The ideal scenario for Gordon is to develop into a more athletic Draymond Green type of player. He is surely capable of affecting the outcome of a game in multiple ways, and Orlando will surely want to see him take a leap in his game this season.

The Orlando Magic Should Experiment with Jonathan Isaac his First Year

The case for optimism

Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon have both been working hard to improve this summer. What both of these guys need is consistent coaching schemes and more defined roles — both of which should occur this season. Coach Frank Vogel still believes in both players being able to develop consistently into their late season forms from last year. The team added competition and veterans to the roster to help develop the young players and reach their full potential. Both Payton and Gordon came into the league billed full of untapped potential and as project players. The coaching staff behind Vogel excel at getting the most out of players. A second year in Orlando will bode well for everyone involved.

So the question is will both players make the splash that Orlando needs them to make this season?

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