Orlando Magic: 5 Improvements To Make for 2013-14

Nikola Vucevic

Nikola Vucevic will be a big part of whatever improvement the Magic will make next season (NBA.com photo)

The Orlando Magic had a rough season in 2012-13 and finished with the worst record in the NBA at 20-62. Here are five things the Orlando Magic must improve next season.

1. Al Harrington and Hedo Turkoglu must go

The Orlando Magic are in the process of a youth movement in Orlando that is centered around building through the draft. In order for Orlando to expedite that process, the Magic will have to choose which veterans are worth keeping and which players need to be traded or released.

Al Harrington and Hedo Turkoglu both can be waived this summer and need to be moved to make way for the young players on the Magic squad. Harrington has two years remaining on a non-guaranteed contract worth $14.8 million over the next two seasons. However, the Magic would only be on the hook for $7.4 million over those two years if they waived Harrington. Harrington only appeared in 10 games with the Magic due to a staph infection in his right knee and doesn’t fit at the power forward position with Tobias Harris and rookie Andrew Nicholson‘s ability. Harrington has some trade value so the most likely option is the Magic will try to trade Harrington for young talent before releasing Harrington.

Another potential influence is Glen Davis who only appeared in 34 games due to injuries to his shoulder and a broken foot that put the nail in the coffin of what had been a solid season. Davis was averaging 15.1 points for the Magic (a career high) and while the Magic would like to trade Davis it seems that teams would be reluctant to acquire Davis do to the injury he accumulated  last season.

Hedo Turkoglu should not be on the Magic roster next season. Turkoglu played in 11 games this season and was suspended 20 games after testing positive for methenelone, an anabolic steroid. The small forward is due $12 million in 2013-14, with only half of the money guaranteed. The Magic are unlikely to find a team willing to trade for Turkoglu and would benefit by just waiving the 13-year veteran.

2. Draft a guard

The Orlando Magic have got to improve at the guard position, especially after trading J.J. Redick and the chance that E’Twaun Moore might not return. Current Magic guards Jameer Nelson and Beno Udrih are both solid point guards, but they are also in their 30’s and having a young speedy point guard is important in today’s NBA. Michigan’s Trey Burke is a point guard who knows when to sit back and let his teammates score and when to take over a game himself. Burke averaged 18.6 points per game and 6.7 assists, while also being named the 2012-13 AP Player of the Year. He also showed leadership by leading the Wolverines to the NCAA championship game before losing to Louisville.

3. Defense

The Orlando Magic struggled defensively last season, despite having a few quality defensive players on the young Magic squad. The Magic were No. 22 in the NBA in opponent points per game allowing 101.2 points, No. 25 in blocks with 4.5 per game and No. 29 in steals with 6.4 per game.

The biggest mistake the Magic make defensively is a schematic decision to constantly switch on the pick-and-roll. It was not unusual to see Vucevic guarding Kevin Durant or LeBron James, which is limits the Magic’s opportunities to be successful defensively.  Orlando Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn used this option to simplify the defense.

Despite the problems, there is reason for optimism. Afflalo missed the last 18 games last season with a slight hamstring tear, but when healthy Afflalo is one of the best on-ball defenders in the league. Davis is a great one-on-one defender and an even better team defender who has the ability to take a charge. Maurice Harkless has the length and athleticism to be a great defensive player and played well down the stretch.

Vucevic is an average defensive player who can does get the occasional blocked shot (1 per game), but has poor footwork and defensive awareness. Andrew Nicholson is an abysmal defender with slow feet and big mental lapses on the defensive side of the floor.

4. Push the pace

The Orlando Magic had a pace 0f 92.2, which is No. 14 in the NBA. The Magic also did not take advantage of fast-break buckets, only averaging 9.9  fast-break points per game, which was No. 25 this season. One way for the Magic to ignite an offense that was No. 24 in the NBA, averaging 94.1 points per game, is to get out and run. The Magic have the athletes to run, including Harris, Harkless, Afflalo and DeQuan Jones, and must do a better job of featuring those athletes next season.

5. Find a sixth man.

The Magic need a player that can come off the bench and provide a spark. Last season. Redick was able to provide the offense off the bench before he was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. However, the Magic struggled with their bench throughout the season and was No. 27 in bench scoring, only averaging 23.9 points per game. One option could be to bring a Afflalo off the bench as both a defensive and an offensive spark. Regardless of who the player is, the bench has to improve next season.

Tags: Glen Davis Jacque Vaughn Orlando Magic Tobias Harris Trey Burke

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