NBA Power Rankings #28: Orlando Magic
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The Orlando Magic have been in turmoil since the end of the Dwight Howard era and they're poised for yet another year in the lottery. Last year's team went 25-57 and didn't see the growth from their young core that they had hoped to see going into the year. Mario Hezonja is now in New York, Elfrid Payton didn't last the year, Johnathon Issac and Wesley Iwundu under preformed, and Aaron Gordon's injuries kept him off the court for 24 games.
A healthy Aaron Gordon and the addition of rookie Mo Bamba will make for a hopeful backcourt in Orlando, which has clearly been their goal to create during this rebuilding process. Since it's creation, the Magic have focused on creating a strong front court to compete with the league and a Gordon/Bamba combo should be dynamic if they both are able to reach their potential. Aside from Gordon's high flying acrobatics, he has the perfect size and build for modern NBA four, has improved his three-point percentage throughout his career (last year he shot at a 33.6% clip), and has seen most of his "per-game" statistics raise each and every year. His offense is polished but at 22 still has yet to hit his ceiling. Bamba on the other hand is known for his defensive ability due to his high IQ, quickness, and length. Bamba should be able to be one of the leagues top rim protectors in his prime and is working to improve his offensive game to become at least respectable. For now however, Bamba will most likely be starting on the bench behind Nikola Vucevic. It's rumored that Vucevic will be traded by the deadline, but that rumor has surfaced it seems like every year for the past 3 years, so take that with a grain of salt.
While the Magic have a solid future front court in place with Gordon and Bamba, the current Magic still have many problems. Their guards lack depth and consistency, their money is tied up in role players, and don't have quality veteran leadership necessary to help mentor their young talent. The Magic should see a slight win increase with the addition of Bamba, (hopeful) progress from Issac, and a healthy Aaron Gordon, but at best this is still just a 30 win team. Expect them to fall in the 25-30 win range this year.