2016-17 In Review: 29-53, 13th in the Eastern Conference

Key Offseason Acquisitions: SG Arron Afflalo,  SG Jonathan Simmons, C Marreese Speights, PG Shelvin Mack

Key Offseason Losses: SF Jeff Green, SG Jodie Meeks

Projected Starting Lineup: Elfrid Payton, Evan Fournier, Jonathan Simmons, Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic

2017-18 Season Outlook: The immediate future is dreary for the Orlando Magic.  They have not made a playoff appearance in over five years, and that is not likely to change anytime soon. Their starting lineup on offense is concerningly subpar, while their defense is a lone shining light with around seven steals and four blocks a game last year. However, a lot of that production on defense came from stellar defensive player Serge Ibaka, who departed via trade to the Toronto Raptors.

They have shown flashes of offensive ability, enough to average over 100 points per game last year, but it was never enough to win when it mattered. Unfortunately, the leadership in Orlando does not compensate for the inexperience among players. Over time, this young team will mature giving them the experience needed to stay cool under pressure.

The pickup of Jonathon Simmons was a good one, but not good enough to truly get the team past the edge.

Despite that strong pickup, the rest of their team is subpar. Players like Elfrid Payton and Nikola Vucevic have not shown that they can be consistent offensively, and most of the team also lacks defensively. It is unlikely for that to change soon, and it is a possibility that Vucevic could be on the trade block this season. They do not have enough scorers on their team, and their bench remains awful. Shelvin Mack and Arron Afflalo will help that unit, but not enough. If they want to win anytime soon, they need to focus on their bench.

Perhaps they do have a bright spot in their youth, with players like Simmons, Aaron Gordon, Mario Hezonja, and this year’s sixth overall pick Jonathan Isaac, but that future is slim. Hezonja has yet to develop, and it is unlikely he will ever become a starter-caliber player in his career. Simmons is good, but is he good enough to truly elevate his game? That remains to be seen. Gordon is all flash, but he does have talent – unlocking that talent will be hard, the only way he’ll open that vault is if the offense runs through him, and that isn’t happening, at least not yet. Isaac needs to develop now, as they do not want him becoming another Hezonja, who is on the verge of becoming another could-have-been type of player.

The expectations for this team are low, as always. This season, they are likely to still be stuck in that limbo of asking themselves should we trade our assets for picks and tank, or should we focus on another run at the playoffs. Tanking is the most logical choice, and you can expect to see them do that in years coming. If you are a Magic fan, you will likely not see a playoff run by your team for at least five years.

Projected Strengths: Shooting, youth

Projected Weaknesses: Defense, lack of depth, inexperience

Projected Win Total: 25-30 wins

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Love the NBA. Follow me on twitter @tscoerr

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