The NBA in October, it’s a beautiful thing isn’t it? Last summer and into the fall as owners and players argued over who deserved to be even richer than they already were, fans were left to wonder if there would ever even be a 11-12 season. Finally, after a 149 day lockout, owner and players came to an agreement on who gets what and the NBA began their shortened 66 game season on Christmas Day. Now don’t get me wrong, the first day of the NBA season occurring on Christmas Day after months of anxiously waiting for it was probably the best gift I received last year. But thank goodness we didn’t have to wait that long this year for the start of the season. It’s October, the 2012-2013 NBA season has begun, and fans all over the country couldn’t be more excited.
Now let’s talk about the Orlando Magic. The question is, after the team’s busy off-season in which they shipped out 3 of their 5 starters and their top two scorers from last season, is there any reason for Magic fans to be even a little bit excited for the upcoming season? Superstar center Dwight Howard was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in a four team deal that also included starting shooting guard Jason Richardson being sent to the Philadelphia 76ers. In return the Magic received shooting guard Arron Afflalo and small forward Al Harrington from the Denver Nuggets, as well as young center Nikola Vucevic from the 76ers. In a separate sign and trade deal, the Magic acquired center Gustavo Ayon from the New Orleans Hornets in exchange for starting power forward Ryan Anderson. Losing Howard is obviously going to have a huge impact on this team. Howard was without doubt the best player on the Magic. He led the team in points, rebounds and blocks for several seasons in a row, and often was the only thing that made them relevant in the NBA. With Howard on the team, the Magic had a chance to make the playoffs every single season. Howard was the Magic, he was their identity. But he had to go and the Magic made the right decision in trading him. They rode his talent for as long as they could, but his negativity and me first attitude eventually became too much of a burden for the Magic. Now the team must find a new identity. No one is quite sure what it’s going to be yet, but Magic fans need to embrace the journey and trust the rebuilding process.
Below is a table showing the players that have left the Magic since last season and also those who have joined the Magic.
|Dwight Howard||20.6||14.5||1.9||Arron Afflalo||15.2||3.2||2.4|
|Ryan Anderson||16.1||7.7||0.9||Al Harrington||14.2||6.1||1.4|
|Jason Richardson||11.6||3.6||2.0||Gustavo Ayon||5.9||4.9||1.4|
|Von Wafer||5.9||1.4||0.9||Nikola Vucevic||5.5||4.8||0.6|
|Quentin Richardson||4.5||2.6||0.8||E’Twaun Moore||2.9||0.9||0.9|
|Chris Duhon||3.8||1.6||2.4||Josh McRoberts||2.8||3.4||1.0|
|Daniel Orton||2.8||2.4||0.3||Moe Harkless||R|
|Earl Clark||2.7||2.8||0.4||DeQuan Jones||R|
|Deandre Liggins||1.9||0.9||0.3||Andrew Nicholson||R|
|Justin Harper||1.4||0.8||0.1||Kyle O’Quinn||R|
Those total numbers at the bottom say it all, the Magic are losing a lot. A good portion of their scoring and rebounding from last season are gone. And what they’ve added are, for the most part, a bunch of young, unproven players with whom we are not sure what to expect. However, there are a few positives to take away from the new additions to the roster. First, with the exception of Al Harrington, every new player is under 30 years old. And if you take Arron Afflalo out of that mix, every new player is under 26. Second, Afflalo is becoming one of the best young shooting guards in the league and will only get better as time goes on. Afflalo has improved every year he’s been in the league and averaged a career high 15.2 ppg last season with the Nuggets. Afflalo is certainly an upgrade at shooting guard over Jason Richardson, perhaps the only position which the Magic have improved. Look for Afflalo to the best player on the Magic this season; how he goes the Magic go. Finally, the third reason to get excited about the new additions is young centers Nikola Vucevic and Gustavo Ayon. Both players are entering only their second season in the league and the Magic have very high hopes for both of them. There are no expectations that either will replace Dwight Howard and his production, but the Magic believe that both, in time, can be nightly double-double guys. For Vucevic, the Magic believe he could average a double-double right away and has the potential to be a future All-Star.
There are a couple other reasons for Magic fans to be excited about the future of their team. The first is Glen Davis. Last season, Davis averaged only 7.6 ppg coming off the bench. But with Dwight Howard injured, Davis averaged 15.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game in 13 starts in the regular season. With Howard also out for the playoffs, Davis stepped up and led the team in scoring and rebounding, putting up 19.0 ppg and 9.2 rpg. Now both Howard and Ryan Anderson are gone and Big Baby will step in to the starting role for the entire season. I expect Davis to fully take advantage of the opportunity and have a breakout season. Another reason for Magic fans to be excited about the future is the chance to receive a high lottery draft pick. In all reality, the Magic are not going to be a very good team this year. There just simply isn’t enough developed talent there yet. And with a new coach and so many new pieces, chemistry could be a problem too. But management isn’t expecting their team to be good now and neither should fans. The Magic are in the process of rebuilding and the draft is a crucial part in that process. There are many talented players expected to be in next summer’s draft and the Magic will most likely have a good opportunity at picking from the very best. Rebuilding is never what any organization really wants to do, but sometimes it is necessary in order to get where a team needs to go.
Below is the expected starting lineup for the start of the season and how I expect each player to perform.
|PG||Jameer Nelson||11.9 ppg, 5.7 apg, 3.2 rpg||10.5 ppg, 6.3 apg, 3.8 rpg|
|SG||Arron Afflalo||15.2 ppg, 2.4 apg, 3.2 rpg||17.8 ppg, 2.5 apg, 4.5 rpg|
|SF||Hedo Turkoglu||10.9 ppg, 4.4 apg, 3.8 rpg||12.4 ppg, 5.0 apg, 4.3 rpg|
|PF||Glenn Davis||9.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 0.3 bpg||16.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 0.7 bpg|
|C||Nikola Vucevic||5.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 0.7 bpg||9.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.1 bpg|
My Predictions for the Southeast Division
- Miami Heat – 64-18
- Atlanta Hawks – 42-40
- Washington Wizards – 27-55
- Orlando Magic – 20-62
- Charlotte Bobcats – 14-68
About the Author
Written by Madison Warfel
I graduated from Lancaster Bible College in the spring of 2012 with a bachelor's degree in Sports Management and Ministry. I am working to enter the field of sports journalism and plan to pursue a masters degree in sports journalism in the near future. Everything I have accomplished and will accomplish is only because of the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Without Him I am nothing; all glory goes to our heavenly Father.