Pretty Much Screwed: The 2013-14 Orlando Magic
Welcome to “Pretty Much Screwed,” our definitive guide to the upcoming NBA season. This team-by-team preview details why it’s probably not your favorite team’s year. Now let's check out the Orlando Magic, who will be fighting hard all season for the number one seed. In the draft. I think it's called the first draft pick.
Look guys, the Magic aren't good. That's okay. That's the point. When Dwight Howard left town -- or, rather, when he waffled back and forth about leaving town before forcing the Magic to trade him for, essentially, Arron Afflalo -- everyone knew that it was the end of an era. Like him or not (and I know that you likely do not), Howard dragged a team otherwise headlined by Hedo Turkoglu to the Finals. A guy like that only comes around every few years, and he's gone now.
In fact, the Magic still have work to do in the first phase of the rebuilding project: dump the veterans. Also, dump anybody who is remotely good (and isn't first round pick Victor Oladipo). The idea is to get as much money off the books as possible while still retaining a semblance of a team. That means Jameer Nelson and Glen Davis will likely find themselves traded before the end of the year, to teams that actually want quality contributions from role players. Plus, Nelson's presence will only take minutes and touches from Oladipo.
Once that's done (the trade deadline is in February), then the real order of business can begin:
Losing as many games as possible.
The 2014 NBA Draft is going to be stacked. Andrew Wiggins from Kansas, Julius Randle from Kentucky, Marcus Smart from Oklahoma, Jabari Parker from Duke -- the Magic could use any one of these guys (particularly Wiggins). The Magic need a top draft pick in 2014 more than they need anything else in the 2013. The most important part of this season is providing Orlando fans some excitement, so they don't slip into depression comas from which they will never be revived.
Good news: Oladipo is exciting. He's embracing his new team as well as the chance to be a leader even as a rookie. Plus, for a combo guard, he's a beast. People are calling him the next Russell Westbrook -- a point guard who can score when he needs to. If the Magic can draft Wiggins or Randle next year, they'll have a legit one-two punch to build from going forward.
So listen: I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. The Magic aren't good this year. They probably won't be "good" next year either. But losing a once-in-a-generation big man isn't something you recover from easily. It's going take a few years, but provided the Magic rebuild the right way and don't sign anyone to a ridiculous free agent deal next summer, they'll be in good shape towards the end of this decade. Hang tight, Orlando.
One reason you might not be screwed: There is no such thing as a reason the Magic might not be screwed this year. Sorry.
Actual season prediction: 19-63, 14th in the East.
Photo via Getty
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