Orlando Magic 2014/2015 Season Preview

Orlando Rooks

The future looks bright in Orlando

The Magic are officially still in ‘rebuild mode’  but after two straight losing seasons, Rob Hennigan has built an exciting and athletic young team with the potential of competing for a playoff spot.

When Jameer Nelson was waived this summer, it officially marked the end of the Dwight Howard era for the Orlando Magic. The squad today doesn’t include a single player who played alongside Dwight for the Magic.

Howard left town in the summer of 2012 to the Los Angeles Lakers, which wasn’t the first time the Magic lost the most dominant centre in the league to the Lakers. In eerily similar fashion Shaquille O’Neal also bolted to Hollywood 16 years earlier, leaving the Magic in disarray.  However, now two seasons after the ‘Dwightmare’, the Magic look like they are finally turning a corner in the rebuilding process.

In the 2014 NBA Draft the Magic picked up Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton in the first round.  Gordon, a 6’9″ power forward  has been compared to Blake Griffin and has even been given the nickname ‘Baby Blake’ due to his athleticism and powerful finishes at the rim.  However, NBA analysts suggest his actual game is more akin to Shawn Marion from the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Elfrid Payton, a 6ft 4in point guard, plays the game with relentless tenacity at both ends of the floor. On offense Elfrid has great court vision and passing ability and has also been compared to Rajon Rondo.

With impressive performance in summer league and the preseason Payton looks set to start at point guard for the Magic this season, allowing Victor Oladipo to play in his natural position of shooting guard.

Oladipo, averaging just under 14ppg last season, will thrive alongside Payton and are sure to be one of the most exciting backcourt duos in the league.

Whilst losing their top scorer last season in veteran Aaron Afflalo, the Magic have picked up Channing Frye from the Phoenix Suns for some veteran leadership as well as Ben Gordon from the Charlotte Hornets.

Nikola Vucevic has just agreed a contract extension with the Magic and will (alongside Kyle O’Quinn) benefit greatly from having the veteran power forward Channing Frye on the roster this season.  Last season Vucevic averaged over 14 ppg and 11 rpg last season at centre.

What are the expectations for the young Magic this season?  They will have a deep, athletic and exciting team that likes to play at a fast pace with a never say die attitude.

However, their inexperience and age will provide mixed results this year and whilst the team should and will have playoff aspirations, they may be a bit premature.

One thing is for sure,  if this young team can stay and grow together, the sky really is the limit and will they return as a force in the Eastern Conference within a season or two.

Expected Starters: Elfrid Payton PG, Victor Oladipo SG, Tobias Harris SF, Channing Frye PF, Nikola Vucevic C.

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