It’s rare that the Orlando Magic get featured in the national media these days and for good reason. Without a superstar, the Magic aren’t a sexy team, and more importantly, aren’t winning. That’s why the Orlando Magic rebuild is built around finding the next star (or two) to help lead the Magic to their first NBA Championship. Grantland’s Zach Lowe takes a look in on that rebuilding process and assesses where they’re at now and where they’re trying to go.
Arron Afflalo has been great this year, but his ceiling is as the third or fourth best player on a championship team. If there is a star on the team already it has to come from one of the younger players. Lowe makes clear that he doesn’t think Tobias Harris or Moe Harkless fit that bill. Harris is an intriguing talent who doesn’t have an ideal position, while Harkless is still an offensive black hole.
Lowe is much more impressed with Nikola Vucevic and Victor Oladipo. He pegs Oladipo as likely to make about 3 all-star appearances in his career. Again, a great third banana but nothing more. Vucevic is such a conundrum with his great rebounding, solid offense, and slow feet that the jury is still out on him. There is no star on the roster yet, so they have to look elsewhere.
If the Magic are going to draft a superstar, this is the year. They currently have the third worst record in the league at a time when more high potential players are coming out than at any time in recent memory. But landing a star is far from certain. The draft is notoriously unreliable, and beyond that the Magic may be in danger of playing their way out of a top pick. Beyond the top three, this draft is far from certain and with a finally healthy roster and a winning streak, it’s not hard to imagine them playing their way out of a top pick. And even though next year’s draft looks to be strong as well, the Magic plan on being too good to land a top pick by then.
The Magic have 3 additional first round picks coming their way in the next five years from Denver, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. None of those are guaranteed to be in the lottery, and the back half of the first round is filled with average at-best NBA talent. Those picks are much more valuable currency on the trade market. Once that first star is in place, the Magic are set to have max-level cap space in each of the next few seasons even after factoring in raises for their young players.
With very few superstars available on the open market, trading for one might be the most likely way to snare one. Free agency is an option, but elite free agents want to join a winning team that already has a star (like Dwight Howard after the James Harden trade). If the Magic want two superstars without drafting one, a trade will have to come first.
Even after all their hard work and intriguing potential, the Orlando Magic rebuild is far from a guaranteed success. The next six months will shape the franchise’s future and determine their championship fate.
What do you think? Is the Orlando Magic rebuild going according to plan? Let us know in the comments section below! Want more? Subscribe to our newsletter!