Orlando Magic 2013-2014 Season Predictions!
“Opinions are like buttholes. Everyone has one.” – Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis. Actual quote.
The fifth youngest team in the NBA embarks on their 25th season as a franchise tonight, as the Orlando Magic face off with the Indiana Pacers. After last year’s somber, howdowedealwithnotbeingagoodteam season in the past, rays of hope are finally coming through as an exciting group of young prospects propels Orlando into the highs of the 2014 Draft. With the youth movement featuring Moe Harkless, Victor Oladipo, Nik Vucevic and Tobias Harris as the current
tanking rebuilding core, it will be fascinating to watch how this team develops this year. Especially as the organization starts to see who has a legitimate future in Orlando and which players can be used as trade bait to acquire a more proven commodity.
The mBo Predictions That You Didn’t Ask For And Will Surely Go Wrong
Record: 26 Wins – 56 Losses
I foolishly predicted that Orlando would win #38games last season, a number I felt good about with the team sitting at 12-13 in December. It was dumb. I was blinded by my own bias. No more! The reality is that the veteran presence will be limited this season in terms of minutes and the defense just is too far away from consistently challenging for wins on a night-in and night-out basis. The Magic are improved and will be competitive, but there are just too many good teams in the league for them to make a breakthrough. However, thanks to the 76ers/Celtics/Suns full-tank ahead strategy, there are wins out there to be had. TWENTY SIX.
First Player to be Traded: Arron Afflalo
You can place any of the team’s veterans into this category, but I believe Afflalo has the most value to another team. He can absolutely be the 3rd-4th best option on a very good team (Thunder?) who is lacking scoring and shooting. Jameer Nelson and Glen Davis would both be valuable to other teams, but both carry burdens that make them tougher to move. Nelson, who was made the face of the franchise post-Dwight, has just $2M guaranteed to him next year. But the reality is that he is more valuable to the Orlando Magic franchise then he would likely be to another team. Big Baby is coming off foot surgery x2 and is owed $6.6M next season. Wild card: Hedo Turkoglu. Hedo’s $6M guaranteed contract doesn’t have to be waived until January, meaning he could be used to help the Magic acquire assets as trade broker for other teams making deals.
Most Improved: Moe Harkless
While Harkless still needs to continue to develop his three-point shooting touch, he is already the team’s best finisher at the rim. With his ability to slash effectively and use his long strides to easily get into the lane, Moe has the best chance to score easy baskets at the rim. The muscle he added this offseason has already proven to allow him to finish better through contact, and should also help him a great deal on the defensive end where he will no longer have to rely solely on his athleticism. Harkless was often forced to guard the other team’s best player last season, this year not only will he continue to do so – but he will do it effectively.
Biggest Disappointment: Tobias Harris
This was a tough choice and one that I hope I am wrong about. Tobias is a hard worker and a great kid, but I can’t get over his propensity to mimic Carmelo Anthony’s shooting style – and shot selection. After he came over from Milwaukee last season he filled the stat sheet up on a bad team. But can he grow into the all-around player he’ll need to be to breakthrough? I’m not convinced. He doesn’t finish well at the rim (below 40% from 3-15 feet last year) and is just enough of a tweener to be a defensive liability. His future role should be as a 6th man off the bench,providing offensive spark, not as a starter on a playoff team.
Player You Shouldn’t Get Attached To: Anyone not named Victor Oladipo
Fans may love Harkless, Vucevic, Harris, Nicholson and maybe they even have a strange affection for Doron Lamb. But it is important to understand that the 2015-2016 Orlando Magic roster will look extremely different from how it does today. Use the Oklahoma City Thunder as an example. Jeff Green was their Harkless/Harris player, which they then used to make a trade to add veteran bulk and strength. These guys are all valuable today because they are on rookie contracts. You may wisely love Nik Vucevic, but would you love him if he was making $14M per year like Derrick Favors just signed for? In the NBA, money matters. Rookies are fun because they show promise and are cheap. But eventually these guys turn into Martell Webster’s and J.J. Hickson’s more often than they turn into Paul George’s.
Teams to Root For: Charlotte Bobcats, Sacramento Kings, Cleveland Cavaliers
Tank! Tank! Tank! The Bobcathornets, Kings and Cavs are all teams that should finish behind the Magic in the lottery standings but we’ve seen how that has turned out over the last few years. The Bobcathornets find a way to lose, the Kings are led by DeMarcus Cousins (fun!) and the Cavs somehow keep getting hurt just enough to land elite prospects while still giving their fans hope. Win a game already!
Teams to Root Against: Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks
The Magic receive the less favorable 2014 1st round draft pick from either the Nuggets or the Knicks. While the Knicks are likely to have the better record, it’s much better for Orlando to see them in the 6th or 7th seed in the East, then it is at 3rd or 4th. As a general rule, always root for both of these teams to lose.
- Nik Vucevic will finally develop a mean streak towards the end of the season and scare the hell out of the rest of the league. Doug Collins will cry about this on National TV.
- Victor Oladipo will not win Rookie of the Year, based purely on stats. But WILL prove to be the best rookie overall.
- Jameer Nelson will not be traded until the offseason.
- Matt Goukas will be missed on Fox Sports Florida broadcasts, but Jeff Turner will fill in greatly.
- Jacque Vaughn will infuriate the Orlando Sentinel so greatly that they will launch a petition for Stan Van Gundy to return.
- Andrew Nicholson’s ability to consistently hit three pointers will dramatically increase his future trade value.
- This team will rank at the bottom of the league in defense.
- Solomon Jones will not be on the Orlando Magic roster on January 11th.
- I will talk myself into and out of believing in every young player on the roster 15 times through the season.
- Nik Vucevic will make the All-Star team as an injury replacement.
- Nik Vucevic will not make the All-Star team, EVER.
- Jacque Vaughn will prove that he is not just a coach that can relate to his players – he’ll prove that he can flat-out coach.
It will be a long 82 game grind, but there should be plenty of fun moments along the way. Let the journey begin.