One thing that we can guarantee before the NBA season even begins is that an Orlando Magic player won’t be winning the MVP award this year. The reality is though that there are only a handful of players in the league who have a realistic chance of scooping that award anyway.
Nevertheless, a more realistic and still extremely positive scenario for the team could see one of their players scoop the Most Improved Player award. But of all the players on the team, who has the best chance of winning the award?
Let’s start with Victor Oladipo. Coming off a stellar rookie campaign, it’s hard to gauge just how much he can improve going into his second year in the league because we only have statistics for his one year in the NBA.These can’t be compared to any other numbers to show growth. However, Oladipo is expected to assume a much bigger role in this team, as the best backcourt player and arguably now the face of the franchise.
With Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo gone, this team could become his to lead.
Rookie season averages of 13.8 points and 4.1 assists are an encouraging sign, although the PER rating of 13.8 does need room for improvement. That said, Tyreke Evans was one player who had a brilliant first year in the league before petering out big time, and although this is unlikely to happen to Oladipo, he does need to beware of second season syndrome.
Opposing teams will now have extensive scouting reports done on his game, so the element of surprise will no longer be there.
Looking further down the roster, the next name that jumps out is Nikola Vucevic. It seems the center is as unimportant as ever in the league, and yet he is so crucial to what the Magic do.
He is the team’s main inside presence, and forces opponents to plan around what he can do in the paint. He averaged a double-double last season (14.2 points and 11 rebounds) and entering his fourth year, looks primed for a big leap in production and recognition if he plays the way we know he can.
A team like the Magic will struggle to get much national attention given that they will be resigned to NBA TV for most of the year, and so this could go against the players on this team who could win the award. It is hard to win hardware when only a minority of fans see what you do on a regular basis.
That being said though, the team would also expect to win more games than last year, and if one of the players on the team are largely responsible for that, they would surely be in with a good shout to be in the running for Most Improved Player.
There is one more player Orlando have that could win the award, and he would be somewhat of a dark horse going into the year to win. His name is Tobias Harris, but to watch him since arriving from Milwaukee is to see a player who is constantly improving.
The forward can do so much on the court, and is also one of the better defensive players on this team as well. His 14.6 points and seven rebounds last year was impressive, and his PER rating of 16.5 was better than the league average of 15.
Although the Magic fans appreciate what he does for the team, others around the league would look to Oladipo and maybe even Vucevic as the players on this team who could be more deserving of the award. Interestingly though, should Harris become the sixth man for this team, that is another award he would have a good chance of picking up, but we’ll return to that at a later date.
Some may say that Maurice Harkless should be included in this list as well, but it appears he divides opinion both among Magic fans and those around the league as to how good he truly is. A monster season would be too hard to ignore of course, but at this moment putting him in as a Most Improved Player contender on this roster alone seems a stretch.
So while the names mentioned may seem like outside bets to many, for those who regularly watch the Magic play, there is optimism and reason to believe they could be in the running for Most Improved Player next season. If I was to pick one player personally from the roster who I feel has the best chance to scoop the award, it would be Vucevic.
He is just such a unique player with a nose for rebounding and great hands too. Next year could be the one where he truly becomes a game changer.