After six consecutive playoff trips (including a Finals appearance in 2008-09), the team anticipated some bumps in the road after cutting ties with perennial All-Star Dwight Howard in a four-team blockbuster trade over the summer.
Orlando appeared to receive pennies on the dollar for the big man, a bounty that included a collection of draft picks, unproven talent and fringe starters.
Needless to say, the prospect of a complete overhaul seemed, at the least, a daunting project for first-year coach Jacque Vaughn. His main task was to identify players who should be part of Orlando's future and then work on developing the selected few.
Then something unexpected happened. Vaughn's scrappy roster scratched and clawed its way to victories over the Denver Nuggets, L.A. Lakers and Golden State Warriors. Perhaps the cupboard wasn't as barren as it first appeared.
The Magic have more than just a few valuable pieces already on their roster. Not to mention the fact that many of these players aren't ready to contribute—they're actually leading this club to some impressive wins.
But there's still a lot of work left to do. These unexpected successes have been a bonus for a reeling fanbase, but they're nothing more than pieces for this team to build around.