The Magic are in Prime Position for the Draft
The NBA has reached the unofficial second half of the season and for a handful of teams including the Magic, it will be all about tanking. Now as Orlando fully embraces the rebuild with the departure of Elfrid Payton, they will be competing with the likes of roughly eight other teams for the first overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Realistically anyone of those 9 teams could land the top pick, so it will be crucial for the Magic to put their best foot forward and continue to let games slip away in the end.
What makes this year’s race for the worst record different than other years is that the NBA has already agreed to tweak the NBA Lottery for next season to discourage teams from tanking for the top pick. With that said it’s not a 3 or 4 team race…but rather a wide-open race with potentially 9 teams who could finds themselves with the first selection this summer. As it stands, six teams including the Magic have 18 wins…followed by the Nets with 19, Bulls with 20, and the Knicks, who have been in a downward spiral since losing Kristaps Porzingis.
Now if you are wondering what it will take for Orlando to land a top 3 pick, there are many ways to achieve that goal. For starters, head coach Fran Vogel should play rookie Jonathan Isaac more than the 19 mins a game he has been averaging so far. Of course, Isaac will need to be healthy for this to happen as he is currently dealing with an ankle injury that has kept him sidelined for much of the season. Another way to keep stock piling the lossless is to let big man Nikola Vucevic take as much time as needed before returning to the lineup after suffering a from a fractured hand in late December. Vucevic has been a double-double machine for years now, so having his production out of the lineup will give Orlando a boost. Lastly, coach Vogel should not hesitate to go deep into his bench, as it will give the younger guys some much needed experience but will give a glimpse of who can actually be a building block going forward. A great example of this is Mario Hezonja, who has flourished as of late with increased playing time. The 3rd year guard now has 20 or more points in his last 3 games, which is more than double his season average of 8.8 points a game.
Overall, the second half of the NBA season should be fun as teams race for both the playoffs or the bottom of the standings. With 25 games left in the season the Orlando Magic could significantly hurt or help their re-build, depending on how many losses they are able to rack up.