In order to understand the current trajectory of the Orlando Magic, we need to look back into the not too distant past of last season. The organization had appeared in back-to-back postseasons, and although they exited in the first round on both occasions, they had a group that was capable of getting back there and being even more difficult to beat.
They were lead by head coach Steve Clifford, who had instilled a high defensive work rate across the roster, and a core of Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier. Point guard Markelle Fultz was the wildcard, and he was instrumental in the Magic starting the season well and having fans thinking that the best was yet to come.
Then Fultz tore his ACL, and at that moment the direction of the franchise changed completely.
With the benefit of hindsight, it is clear the Orlando Magic won every major trade that they were involved in at the deadline last year.
It took a bit of time to get the right trades in place, but by the time the deadline had gone, none of Vucevic, Gordon or Fournier were on the team. Fultz was lost to injured, alongside Jonathan Isaac, and it was clear Clifford was not the man for this group. Plenty of losing ensued, and it was tough to take for a fanbase who had witnessed so much losing over the last eight years.
With the benefit of hindsight, however, the Magic actually won all three of the trades that they were involved in just before the trade deadline. It was unclear at the time if that was going to be the case, especially as Vucevic had turned into a two-time All-Star, but ahead of the 2021-22 season, the front office deserves all the credit in the world for those moves. Here is why.