Despite the fact the Orlando Magic are destined for the NBA lottery and nothing else, there are still a whole host of things that could happen to the franchise between now and then. Going forward it will be interesting to see how this young team grows in the months and even years to come, but for now let us just focus on five things this guy is saying will probably come to be by the time the season has ended.
1. Victor Oladipo To Be Named Rookie Of The Year
This isn’t the gutsiest call of all time, but it is by no means a sure thing either. Oladipo is having a solid rookie campaign and unlike a lot of other youngsters, he is also seeing some serious minutes as well. His athleticism is hardly getting boring, but at this point fans know what they are getting with him, which means he is not really surprising and engaging the casual fan on a nightly basis. It is almost unfair because he is doing nothing wrong, and through half a season is averaging 13.4 points, 3.8 assists and just more than four rebounds in 31.7 minutes of action for the team. He is playing very well and at this moment would win Rookie of the Year honors. If he could just bring that little something extra he would be a lock to win the ROTY award, but if other raw players like Giannis Antetokounmpo find another gear or Michael Carter-Williams begins seriously torching opposing teams again like he has done, Oladipo may be pipped at the finish line. This would still seem a fairly safe bet however, even if we are only at the halfway point in the race.
2. Some Sort Of Trade To Take Place
It will probably come out of the blue, but don’t be shocked if the Magic shakes things up a little down the stretch of this campaign. Not that they need to, but this team is losing, a lot. That was the game plan all along this year, but when the season started the Magic were losing games but playing well and hustling well on the court and fighting for everything they could get. That determined style of play has left them recently and now the team is simply losing and looking bad, too. There have been a raft injuries to take into consideration of course, but if the top brass at the see an opportunity present itself that is too good to pass up, don’t be surprised if they take it. This team has flexibility and that is an exciting commodity to have in the NBA. They need to stop the bleeding as well, before they become Charlotte Bobcats-bad and get trapped in a cycle of mediocrity.
3. Orlando To Have A Winning Streak Of More Than Five Games
Very hard to consider given the above point just made, but if the Magic do make a trade, that feel-good factor that new signings generally bring will resonate around the team for a little while. If this was timed with a more friendly portion of their schedule as well than this really could become a possibility. Even without a trade, Orlando’s fixtures become a little less daunting toward the end of February. Of course that is a while away yet and the team will lose a lot more games before that period. But, with second- and third-tier teams like the Utah Jazz, Charlotte Bobcats, Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers playing the Magic at that time, a run of victories is something that can happen. Teams will sleep on an Orlando team with a record reading something like 15-37 and this too will contribute to the unexpected win streak that will lift the mood around the team, if even for a short time.
4. Arron Afflalo To Have A 40-Point, 15-Assist Game
Arron Afflalo is having a career season, backed up with career numbers in a variety of statistical categories. Unfortunately for the guard, this will still not be enough to crack the All-Star team for the first time in his career and this will sting a little bit. There is something about genuine rejection when you feel you deserve to make the All-Star Game, like Stephen Curry last year, that can help to elevate your game to yet new heights. This will be the case with Afflalo, who will explode on an unsuspecting team during an otherwise routine fixture. It may come against a struggling organization, but how sweet would it be if Afflalo managed to stuff the stat sheet against a strong playoff team like the Indiana Pacers or Portland Trail Blazers. It would go some way to soothing some of the pain Afflalo will feel from his All-Star snub.
5. The Orlando Magic To Get The Number One Pick In The Lottery
Of course this can be nothing more than an absolute guess, but traditionally teams hoping to turn their fortunes around require a little bit of luck too. The Magic won’t finish with the worst record either, giving them the best odds in the lottery, but this will actually be a blessing in disguise. Only three times since the lottery came into effect have the teams with the best odds of snagging the No. 1 pick actually done so. The Magic also have a great record in the lottery as well as three times in the 25 years since the organization came into existence have they won the rights to the No. 1 pick. On two occasions they took franchise defining players in Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard and on the third, they took Chris Webber and turned him into Anfernee Hardaway via a draft-night trade. Both Howard and O’Neal ultimately broke Magic fans’ hearts by leaving, but should they get the No. 1 pick again, will it be a fourth big hit for the Magic?