Abysmal. Dreadful. Without hope. Washed up. Irrelevant. Embarrassing.
That's just a tiny serving of the terms that were bandied about in regards to Orlando after Dwight Howard's trade to Los Angeles in August.
A team built around the NBA's most dominant inside force was to contagiously crumble. The city of Orlando was to forever be cast into darkness in Howard's immense shadow. The very team that spent almost half a decade among the league's elite was to wallow in the depths of despair for years to come.
To the NBA world, no other result was seemingly possible.
Yet amid all the sensationalized drama, the Magic have quietly conducted themselves honourably, humbly demonstrating a collective sense of fortitude.
While there hasn't been a breakthrough, watershed moment that has diluted the pain of Howard's ride into the LA sunset, Orlando has shown it is willing to embrace the immense challenge ahead.
At 5-8, the Magic have clearly separated themselves from the depths of the Eastern Conference. With each game that passes, steady development is evident across the team. That's not to say there haven't been any growing pains. There have. But that's all part of the process for this team, all part of the long journey back to the top.
So what has steadily developed? Who has embodied this best? Who has experienced the growing pains the most?
Here's what we've learned about Orlando after the first month of the NBA season, its first competitive month without Dwight Howard.
*All stats accurate as of Nov. 27.