Scan the Orlando Magic injury report, and the team’s tanking strategy is clear. The Magic are being overly cautious with minor injuries in an attempt to secure their preferred draft position.
The Orlando Magic currently have the third worst record in the NBA, with little hope of catching the Milwaukee Bucks or the Philadelphia 76ers for more losses. Instead the Magic have to be concerned about the teams just ahead of them in the standings.
The Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Utah Jazz, and Sacramento Kings are all jockeying for draft position, with the Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans, Detroit Pistons, and Cleveland Cavaliers threats to surrender their seasons. Win a few too many games and the Orlando Magic could find themselves going from the 3rd pick in the draft to the 8th.
At full strength, this Magic team is better than the third worse team in the NBA. They are a threat to go on a mini-winning streak, especially considering that 7 of their last 18 games are against teams who currently have losing records.
Instead of telling their young players not to try, or relying on coach Jacque Vaughn to sabotage games with his rotations, the Magic have begun to use their injury report has their weapon of choice. The Magic aren’t the worst team in the NBA, but take away one of their foundational pieces, and they crumble like a house of cards.
What’s the evidence that Orlando is employing this tactic? Arron Afflalo recently missed three games with a sprained ankle, followed by two more with an illness. Jameer Nelson missed a duo of games with a sore calf and illness. Even iron man Victor Oladipo, who hadn’t missed a game all season, skipped two with a sprained ankle.
No one is suggesting that the players or the team are faking those injuries. Rather the team is being extra cautious. No reason to play through pain or illness when the stakes are ambiguous at best.
Do you think the Orlando Magic injury report will continue to fill as the season draws closed? Let us know in the comments section below! Want more Magic? Sign up for our newsletter!