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Orlando Magic: NBA season preview, roster and schedule 2018

The Magic are set for another season of mediocrity unless one of their young players takes a significant step toward stardom.


Offseason Recap

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

Strengths

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.

Weaknesses

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.

2017/18 Schedule

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

Prediction

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.

How do you see the Magic’s season going? Let us know in the comments below!

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Brad Taningco

Brad Taningco has been a RealSport NBA contributor since Decemeber 2016. But apart from basketball, he's also a fan of soccer, American football, baseball, and ice hockey.

Orlando Magic: NBA season preview, roster and schedule 2018

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