Already it is December and that means the NBA regular season is flying by. There have been more than a few surprises, with every team in the league having experienced surprises of a positive and negative nature. Right now the Orlando Magic sit at 6-12, which is good for 11th in the Eastern Conference. It is impossible to tell what will happen as the campaign winds into next year, but let’s take stock of what we do know and how it could influence how the Magic play going forward.
- Victor Oladipo has been everything he was supposed to be and then some. In the Magic’s double-overtime heartbreaking one point loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, Oladipo had a triple-double and the most complete game of his young career. Even with Arron Afflalo and Glen Davis having career nights themselves, Oladipo found a way to get his own while helping the team too. He has been inserted into the starting line-up, and is beginning to get to grips with running the point guard position too. The only draw back? In that match up versus Philly, fellow rookie Michael Carter-Williams also had a triple-double, and played better than Oladipo too. As a side note, it was the first time ever two rookies had recorded triple-double in the same game as well. Carter-Williams leads all rookies in the race for rookie of the year, but crucially, Oladipo is only a small distance behind. If he can push on some more in the New Year he can snatch that honor away from MCW.
- Glen Davis has provided a nice spark since returning from injury. He also seems to have put behind him the off court incident that occurred in a Holiday Inn not too long ago as well. While it is nice for the team to have this, the real value in his level of play is the fact it may drive his trade value up, even slightly. That should still be the Magic’s goal with their veteran power forward, to cash in on him and take anything they can get in return. Still though, at this moment in time his play is appreciated by the fans.
- Nikola Vucevic will be the next Orlando Magic All-Star. It’s that simple. Through 18 games he is averaging a double-double, posting 14.7 points and just more than 10 rebounds. We have seen him go off and have crazy nights where he can grab 25+ boards, but the Magic would trade that ability in if they knew he could guarantee them 15 boards a night. In time he will, and more than that he will add to his 2.5 assists a game and one block because of his under-rated handling skills. One slight concern however is the fact that he is only getting to the charity stripe just more than two times a game. Considering he is a 67 percent career shooter from the free throw line and is making 77 percent of attempts this season, there is the potential to pick up some more points from here. That should come in time.
- One problem that the Magic have has nothing to do with the way they are playing, it is just a product of circumstance. Orlando have already endured poor games and losing streaks and yet find themselves just 2.5 games outside playoff contention. This speaks volumes of the well documented torridness of the Eastern Conference. This season was meant to be one in which the team lost and secured a high draft pick. Instead, despite the fact they are playing badly, they are still nowhere near the worst team in the conference.
- Being bad, but not that bad, also has the Magic living dangerously close to that level where no team wants to and that is no man’s land. Not very good, but not too bad and that is what this team currently is. Being stuck in this position could absolutely sabotage their plans going forward to get back among the elite in the league. It makes you wonder, what does this team have to do to catch a break? Should the team try and get just a little worse, in order to succeed in the long run? It is a dodgy move and one that could yet blow up in their face. Games are slipping by though and this team needs to decide what direction it is going, and soon.
- This team still has no real identity, it is but a group of players waiting for something to happen. Whether that something does actually come together in the New Year is anybody’s guess though. Arron Afflalo, to his immense credit, has tried to become a leader and give the team some sort of face. This is difficult though, as even he knows his days in the pinstriped blue are numbered. All good teams need an identity though, and this organisation doesn’t have one, it is faceless.
These are the key observations that can be made at this point in time? Do you feel I’ve missed anything, be it good or bad? Pop it in the comments box below to share your thoughts on the Orlando Magic and how they have fared up to now.