Small Ball 2016-17 Season Previews: Orlando Magic

Orlando Magic – 35-47

Key Additions: Frank Vogel – Head Coach (4 years, $22M), Serge Ibaka – PF/C (Trade with Oklahoma City Thunder), Jodie Meeks – G (Trade with Detroit Pistons), Bismack Biyombo – C (FA – 4 years, $72M), Jeff Green – F (FA – 1 year, $15M), D.J. Augustin – PG (FA – 4 years, $29M)

Departures: Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, Brandon Jennings, Shabazz Napier, Dewayne Dedmon

The Orlando Magic have been searching for a star player to build around since Dwight Howard’s departure in the summer of 2012. Nikola Vucevic was the best player they netted from the deal, but he hasn’t developed into a great all-around player. With their lottery selections they have gotten notable talents like Aaron Gordon and Mario Hezonja.

However, last season was a lost cause as management and former head coach didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye on how to use the players on the roster. Skiles surpsingly stepped down as head coach in early May. Orlando was able to get an upgrade as Frank Vogel found himself without a job after the Indiana Pacers chose not to offer him a new contract at the end of the season.

SEASON/ROSTER OUTLOOK:

The big move of the offseason for the Magic came on draft night, when Victor Oladipo was dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder along with 2016 lottery pick Domantas Sabonis and veteran stretch-four Ersan Ilyasova to bring in Serge Ibaka. Along with Ibaka the Magic added another big to their team in former Toronto Raptors back up Bismack Biyombo. Then they added another big man to their team by signing the often underwhelming Jeff Green as a free agent too.

These three moves are head scratchers in their totality as it seems to work against the development of Gordon. He has been his best when playing against power forwards, but with the influx of big men it is most likely that Gordon will see the bulk of his minutes at the small forward. Vogel has it in his head that Gordon can be deployed similarly to how Paul George was with the Pacers–I’ll believe it when I see it.

The moves the Magic have made on their roster and with their coaching staff implicate that Orlando is making a full-on push to get back to the playoffs this year. It seems like every team outside of the Brooklyn Nets believes they are a playoff-caliber team, however in the end only eight teams can.

PREDICTIONS: 32-50

Orlando has bitten off more than it can chew with these moves and unless more are made during the season this will be a season that quickly falls into a downward spiral for the Magic. Making this roster work would mean Vogel has to pull a rabbit out of his hat.

Gordon and Hezonja should’ve been the focal points this year, but pressure from the fans and ownership have this team all screwed up. Chemistry issues could easily bring down this team and with Ibaka being an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the season it’s likely that he serves more as a one-year rental than a key cog of the team’s future.

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