Arrivals: Jonathan Isaac, Jonathon Simmons, Marreese Speights, Wesley Iwundu, Shelvin Mack
Departures: Jeff Green, Jodie Meeks, Marcus Georges-Hunt, Patricio Garino, Stephen Zimmerman, C.J. Watson
The highlight of the Magic’s relatively quiet offseason was drafting Jonathan Isaac No. 6 overall. The Florida State product is Orlando’s latest attempt to find that franchise star they’ve been desperately missing ever since moving on from Dwight Howard.
The Magic didn’t do anything too remarkable in free agency, though. They were able to pick up former Spurs wing Jonathon Simmons, who should provide some much-needed wing depth behind Terrence Ross and Evan Fournier.
They also picked up veterans Marreese Speights and Shelvin Mack, but both don’t figure to make much of an impact as they are slated to be the third option in their respective positions on the depth chart.
Projected Starting Lineup
C – Nikola Vucevic / Bismack Biyombo / Marreese Speights
PF – Aaron Gordon / Jonathan Isaac / Damjan Rudez
SF – Terrence Ross / Mario Hezonja / Arron Afflalo
SG – Evan Fournier / Jonathon Simmons / Wesley Iwundu
PG – Elfrid Payton / D.J. Augustin / Shelvin Mack
The Magic should be a strong defensive rebounding team. Their center duo of Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo can gobble up the boards whenever they’re on the floor, while their power forwards, Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac, can help out in that department as well.
The depth the Magic will have on the frontcourt is also an advantage. Gordon and Isaac are two of the more versatile defensive power forward combinations in the league. They can defend multiple positions and could even play together in more defensive-minded lineups.
Meanwhile, the Magic committed relatively few turnovers despite playing at an above-average pace last season. And with the additions of Isaac and Simmons to Gordon and Ross, the Magic have more athletes to run the floor in transition with Elfrid Payton.
The Magic were right there in the bottom of the NBA in terms of offensive efficiency last season, and it’s tough to see how they improve appreciably in that area. Even with Payton playing out of his mind and Gordon playing his preferred power forward position during the second half of the season, the Magic were still 26th in offensive efficiency post All-Star break.
Of all their offseason additions, Speights might be the best offensive player they picked up, and he might not play significant minutes as the team’s third big man. They still lack enough capable shooters on the roster. Isaac is still likely to be very raw offensively while Simmons has hardly been a big-time scorer apart from an impressive run in last year’s playoffs.
They still lack enough shooting outside of their starting wings, Evan Fournier and Terrence Ross. And while both are competent starters, neither is really capable of being that go-to guy whom the Magic desperately need to score and create consistently for others on offense.
Meanwhile, despite Frank Vogel’s reputation as a good defensive coach and good defensive pieces, Orlando still have trouble on that end of the floor as they were below-average in defensive efficiency last season. They don’t force enough turnovers and struggle to defend shots within nine feet of the basket.
Player to Watch – Jonathan Isaac
Isaac is the best (and possibly only) chance the Magic have of having a remotely entertaining player this season. Orlando’s previous highly touted draft picks (Mario Hezonja, Payton) haven’t exactly panned out, and they will be desperately hoping Isaac can live up to his potential.
Most of Isaac’s potential is on the defensive end. At nearly seven feet with a long wingspan and great athleticism, Isaac has the tools to guard four positions, and possibly five if he can add more strength and bulk to his skinny frame to check bigger centers.
Isaac will be a work in progress on the offensive end, though. He still has a shaky shot and is not yet a threat to create off the dribble. But he’s got hops and could be capable of throwing down some highlight dunks over the course of the year.
1 Oct 18, 2017 vs. Miami Heat
2 Oct 20, 2017 @ Brooklyn Nets
3 Oct 21, 2017 @ Cleveland Cavaliers
4 Oct 24, 2017 vs. Brooklyn Nets
5 Oct 27, 2017 vs. San Antonio Spurs
6 Oct 29, 2017 @ Charlotte Hornets
7 Oct 30, 2017 @ New Orleans Pelicans
8 Nov 1, 2017 @ Memphis Grizzlies
9 Nov 3, 2017 vs. Chicago Bulls
10 Nov 5, 2017 vs. Boston Celtics
11 Nov 8, 2017 vs. New York Knicks
12 Nov 10, 2017 @ Phoenix Suns
13 Nov 11, 2017 @ Denver Nuggets
14 Nov 13, 2017 @ Golden State Warriors
15 Nov 15, 2017 @ Portland Trail Blazers
16 Nov 18, 2017 vs. Utah Jazz
17 Nov 20, 2017 vs. Indiana Pacers
18 Nov 22, 2017 @ Minnesota Timberwolves
19 Nov 24, 2017 @ Boston Celtics
20 Nov 25, 2017 @ Philadelphia 76ers
21 Nov 27, 2017 @ Indiana Pacers
22 Nov 29, 2017 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
23 Dec 1, 2017 vs. Golden State Warriors
24 Dec 3, 2017 @ New York Knicks
25 Dec 4, 2017 @ Charlotte Hornets
26 Dec 6, 2017 vs. Atlanta Hawks
27 Dec 8, 2017 vs. Denver Nuggets
28 Dec 9, 2017 @ Atlanta Hawks
29 Dec 13, 2017 vs. Los Angeles Clippers
30 Dec 15, 2017 vs. Portland Trail Blazers
31 Dec 17, 2017 @ Detroit Pistons
32 Dec 20, 2017 @ Chicago Bulls
33 Dec 22, 2017 vs. New Orleans Pelicans
34 Dec 23, 2017 @ Washington Wizards
35 Dec 26, 2017 @ Miami Heat
36 Dec 28, 2017 vs. Detroit Pistons
37 Dec 30, 2017 vs. Miami Heat
38 Jan 1, 2018 @ Brooklyn Nets
39 Jan 3, 2018 vs. Houston Rockets
40 Jan 6, 2018 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
41 Jan 9, 2018 @ Dallas Mavericks
42 Jan 10, 2018 @ Milwaukee Bucks
43 Jan 12, 2018 @ Washington Wizards
44 Jan 16, 2018 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
45 Jan 18, 2018 @ Cleveland Cavaliers
46 Jan 21, 2018 @ Boston Celtics
47 Jan 23, 2018 vs. Sacramento Kings
48 Jan 27, 2018 @ Indiana Pacers
49 Jan 30, 2018 @ Houston Rockets
50 Jan 31, 2018 vs. Los Angeles Lakers
51 Feb 3, 2018 vs. Washington Wizards
52 Feb 5, 2018 @ Miami Heat
53 Feb 6, 2018 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
54 Feb 8, 2018 vs. Atlanta Hawks
55 Feb 10, 2018 vs. Milwaukee Bucks
56 Feb 12, 2018 @ Chicago Bulls
57 Feb 14, 2018 vs. Charlotte Hornets
58 Feb 22, 2018 vs. New York Knicks
59 Feb 24, 2018 @ Philadelphia 76ers
60 Feb 26, 2018 @ Oklahoma City Thunder
61 Feb 28, 2018 vs. Toronto Raptors
62 Mar 2, 2018 vs. Detroit Pistons
63 Mar 3, 2018 vs. Memphis Grizzlies
64 Mar 5, 2018 @ Utah Jazz
65 Mar 7, 2018 @ Los Angeles Lakers
66 Mar 9, 2018 @ Sacramento Kings
67 Mar 10, 2018 @ Los Angeles Clippers
68 Mar 13, 2018 @ San Antonio Spurs
69 Mar 14, 2018 vs. Milwaukee Bucks
70 Mar 16, 2018 vs. Boston Celtics
71 Mar 20, 2018 vs. Toronto Raptors
72 Mar 22, 2018 vs. Philadelphia 76ers
73 Mar 24, 2018 vs. Phoenix Suns
74 Mar 28, 2018 vs. Brooklyn Nets
75 Mar 30, 2018 vs. Chicago Bulls
76 Apr 1, 2018 @ Atlanta Hawks
77 Apr 3, 2018 @ New York Knicks
78 Apr 4, 2018 vs. Dallas Mavericks
79 Apr 6, 2018 vs. Charlotte Hornets
80 Apr 8, 2018 @ Toronto Raptors
81 Apr 9, 2018 @ Milwaukee Bucks
82 Apr 11, 2018 vs. Washington Wizards
The Magic aren’t making the playoffs for a sixth straight season. Even in a weak Eastern Conference, they still have too many holes on both sides of the ball to make an appreciable jump up.
While Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton are decent NBA players, it’s unlikely that either can make the leap offensively and become the star the Magic need to carry them out of mediocrity. Orlando finishes another disappointing season with a 33-49 record.
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