Offseason Grades: Orlando Magic
The Point Forward will grade every team’s offseason over the next few weeks. Click here for the complete archive.
Additions: Victor Oladipo (No. 2 pick in 2013 draft), Jason Maxiell, Ronnie Price
Losses: Beno Udrih, Al Harrington
Other Moves: n/a
What Went Right: One could easily argue that the only Magic move of note this summer — either positive or negative — was the selection of guard Victor Oladipo with the No. 2 pick. Holding the second pick in a draft is often viewed as an easy place to be: just pick whoever doesn’t go No. 1 and call it a day. The Magic’s task was never that simple this year, and things only got that much crazier — from the outsider’s perspective — when the Cavaliers shocked the world by passing on the entire consensus top-five prospects to snag Anthony Bennett. Cleveland’s curious play didn’t appear to alter Orlando’s course at all: They happily pocketed Oladipo, who has been hailed for his work ethic, athletic tools and potential to be an impact player on the defensive end.
The first-team All-American at Indiana made a great entrance to the NBA world by wearing Google Glass on draft night and he backed it up with a solid Orlando summer league showing, averaging 19 points, five assists and 4.3 rebounds. Although his shooting numbers were up and down and he struggled with turnovers, there was plenty to like, as evidenced by this YouTube mix put together by DeeJay235.
What Went Wrong: The Magic’s first full summer after trading Dwight Howard played out exactly as expected/hoped: They parted with veterans (Beno Udrih and Al Harrington) that don’t make sense in a long-term rebuilding effort, they shelled out exactly zero big-dollar deals to free agents, and they maximized their 2014 cap space by signing both Jason Maxiell and Ronnie Price to deals that included only one guaranteed year. In sum, they did absolutely nothing that will prevent them from competing for the most draft lottery ping-pong balls while also maintaining a roster framework that will allow Oladipo, Tobias Harris, Nikola Vucevic and their other youngsters plenty of playing time and freedom to develop. Even better, they will be in a position to pursue trade and free-agency options next summer more aggressively.
Obsessively charting the progress and projecting the ceilings of Oladipo, Harris and Vucevic is now the 1A area of focus for Magic fans and observers. 1B, of course, is licking their lips over possible 2014 draft targets. Orlando can be essentially penciled in for a top-five pick next June, meaning that they are virtually guaranteed to add Marcus Smart, Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Jabari Parker, Dante Exum, or Aaron Gordon to the Harris/Oladipo/Vucevic/Arron Afflalo core (call it “HOVA” for short?) for the 2014-15 season. That thought should get the heart rate and (eventually) the season-ticket sales pumping. Yes, that probably feels like a long way off in mid-August 2013, but time can fly when there are no real expectations and hope is approaching on the horizon.
GRADE: B+. It’s a bit counter-intuitive, but by doing virtually nothing besides selecting Oladipo, the Magic, who finished with the league’s worst record at 20-62 last season, did everything right. Or, at least as right as you can do everything while re-upping the lease on the league’s basement for another year.