Over the past few months, the sensational headlines and obstinate columns have been vastly dominated by the Western Conference movements. Or, more recently, the whole Cleveland debacle.
While it is getting exceedingly difficult to miss articles both online and on paper involving these topics, one team are continuing to operate under the radar with their dealings. That team is the Orlando Magic.
After it was confirmed on Tuesday that Arron Afflalo would be returning to Orlando on a one-year deal for his second stint with the Magic, the franchise notched their fourth free agency acquisition of the period.
Free agent Arron Afflalo has agreed to a one-year deal with the Orlando Magic, league source tells ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 25, 2017
Afflalo joins versatile guard Shelvin Mack, talented swingman Jonathon Simmons, and stretch-five Marreesse Speights in donning the Magic blue and white for next season. Not only does this offer a large pool of talent for coach Frank Vogel to construct a pretty decent rotation from, it also creates a fierce competition for places. With many players able to offer a degree of versatility both offensively and defensively, Vogel may have quite the decision on his hands come opening night.
With all that being said, Orlando have a lot of choice with what to do with their rotations this summer, with the following being the most likely:
Revised following Afflalo’s signing:
— James (@JCraggSport) July 26, 2017
At point guard, Elfrid Payton came on leaps and bounds last season, and will continue to do so with the starting minutes he will receive. With the signing of Mack on a two-year, $12 million deal, it is presumed he’ll play understudy to Payton as he continues his growth to becoming a possible franchise point guard.
Mack won’t offer anything extraordinary to the Magic in terms of stats, he’s a 32.1-percent career shooter from deep and boasted a mediocre 20.4-percent assist ratio last season, so don’t expect his nightly box score to jump off the sheet. What he does bring is experience, having been in the league for six years, playing for four different teams, he’s been involved in postseason action four times. This experience will be a welcome addition to a youthful, naive Magic core, and is sure to help around the locker room.
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) July 26, 2017
In a fairytale-type move, glossed even more so by an abundance of mushy Instagram posts by the shooting guard, Afflalo re-joined Orlando at potentially the perfect time. He won’t be a starter, that’s for sure, but he will likely contribute off the pine a lot more than one would first imagine.
The former Sacramento Kings wing had his best years in Orlando, averaging a career-high 18.2 points per game on 42.7-percent shooting from downtown in the 2012-13 season. Back then, he was averaging 35 minutes per contest, he’ll get a fraction of those minutes upon his return. But while age is not on the 31-year-old’s side, he still has a tremendous scoring touch that has been amiss in the Magic’s second unit for quite some time.
Last year, Afflalo shot the three-ball at a 41.1-percent clip in what was his worst scoring season (8.4 points per game) in eight years. However, the two-guard comes at almost a third of the price of former second unit two, Jodie Meeks, who signed a two-year, $6.7 million deal with the Washington Wizards earlier this month.
In fact, the newly re-jigged front office have been nothing but stout in their summer acquisitions, bringing in seasoned veterans and useful pieces for discounted prices, an unfamiliar trait that was found in predecessor Rob Hennigan.
Orlando are paying Mack ($6M), Simmons ($6.5M) and Mo Speights ($2.1M) a combined less than Jeff Green’s $15M deal last year.
— James (@JCraggSport) July 24, 2017
The forward spots are a tricky area. With Simmons signing on a three-year, $20 million deal, this will significantly cut rookie Jonathan Isaac’s minutes, which may stint his development. But not to fear, as the lanky 6-foot-11 forward’s tall frame allows him to play the four all too easily, which will result in Isaac seeing more of the court.
Isaac’s length and defensive versatility will come in handy in Orlando, who also trialled Mario Hezonja as a small-ball four towards the back-end of last season, however it is clear where his weaknesses lie; his offense.
In 32 games for Florida State, Isaac put up a meagre 12 points per contest, while shooting 34.8-percent from deep on 2.8 attempts. While not entirely unsettling numbers, he has a notorious habit of streaky shooting. In March, Isaac shot 19.7-percent from deep, it is a must that he shakes this habit of inconsistency, as it is known that in today’s NBA a competent three-point shot is a prized asset in a player.
After a tough debut (2-10), Jonathan Isaac shot it much better yesterday. Great footwork. 8-18 from 2, 1-4 from 3 & 21 REB in 2 GP (43 min). pic.twitter.com/5fr1B3Ly4S
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) July 3, 2017
Mo Speights was added to Orlando’s roster with the hope of even further stretching the floor, even with franchise centrepiece Nikola Vucevic off the court. This would allow Aaron Gordon to work inside and away from the three-point line, where he shot 28.8-percent last season, as well as a shocking 16.9-percent on open (closest defender within four-to-six feet) threes. The power forward is evidently not a deep shooter, and needs to decrease the 30.7-percent shot frequency from outside.
A Gordon and Payton pick and roll with Terrence Ross, Evan Fournier and Speights or Vucevic spreading the floor has the potential to cause defensive nightmares for opponents.
Speights, who has only just recently developed a killer three-point stroke, has been brought in to add more firepower and depth to a roster where bench reconstruction was a necessity. With the aforementioned additions, the front office have achieved just that, and for a cheap price as well.
There are endless possibilities for this Magic roster, with several players able to play up two and maybe even three positions, a trait donned by many that is sure to leave Vogel with a selection headache.