After their first year in the post-Dwight Howard era, the Orlando Magic are looking to get out of the NBA cellar. A rough 2012-13 campaign saw the Magic win just 20 games, finishing with the league’s worst record. Now general manager Rob Hennigan must develop a new team identity.
The Magic weren’t even successful at being bad, earning the second choice in the NBA lottery despite having the best odds at the top pick. However, this may be a blessing in disguise.
With a draft class lacking an undisputed star, the Magic will have their decision made easier by having one name taken off the board when it comes time to make a selection. So the draft should be simpler with the second overall pick and they’ll still have their choice at nearly all of the top talent available.
As the NBA's worst team, the Magic's needs could loosely be defined as "everything." However, they do have some promising talent. The frontcourt, led by Nik Vucevic and later, Tobias Harris, turned out to be somewhat respectable sans Howard.
Vucevic (13.1 PPG, 11.9 REB) averaged a double-double and Harris, acquired in a deadline deal with the Milwaukee Bucks, broke out and averaged 17.3 points in 27 games with the Magic. The cast around them includes developing youngsters Moe Harkless and Andrew Nicholson, as well as veteran Glen Davis.
The Magic don’t have a glaring problem at shooting guard, but could use some depth. Aaron Afflalo led the team, averaging 36 minutes and 16.5 points. Although, according to ESPN, he was six games short of qualifying, making Vucevic the team's de facto leading scorer. Either way, that's not the production you'd like to see from your go-to guy. E’Twaun Moore and Doron Lamb are still young, but don't provide much off the bench.
As Bleacher Report's Riley Allen noted, where Orlando has its biggest problem is at point guard. Starter Jameer Nelson missed 26 games last year and at 31 years of age is not getting any younger. Beno Udrih is set to be a free agent, but even if they bring him back, he's a serviceable backup at best.
So, since the Magic need a point guard, drafting Trey Burke would make sense, right? According to ESPN's Chad Ford, he's the best point guard available and the Magic are interested. However, Ford also said the Magic don't believe Burke is necessarily worth the second pick.
Scouts Inc. analyst David Thorpe said no pick was too high for Burke:
For whatever it is worth, I see Burke going #1 overall. Unless the top pick already has a prime time pg.— david b. thorpe (@coachthorpe) April 9, 2013
That was back in April, though, and evaluations can change. From now until the draft, though, things can change again. According to Nick Baumgardner of mlive.com, Burke said where he ends up won't affect his preparation. "Wherever I go, I'm going to be ready to play right away," Burke said.
Ideally, the Magic would be better suited to trade back to a position where it would be more reasonable to take Burke. For instance, they could make a deal with the Phoenix Suns for the fifth pick. This would give them additional assets and allow them to draft Burke before the New Orleans Pelicans, whom, according to The Times-Picayune's John Reid, many expect to take Burke with the sixth pick.
However, the Magic's best move could potentially be to make a trade but stay at their current position in the draft. According to probasketball.com, the Magic are looking to take either Ben McLemore or Victor Oladipo and trade for a point guard:
A source tells me Orlando is leaning towards McLemore or Oladipo over Burke at this time. Really like Bledsoe but not sure Clips deal him.— Probasketballdraft (@Probballdraft) May 31, 2013
For argument's sake, let's say the Magic take McLemore, the younger of the two prospects. According to the Orlando Sentinel's Josh Robbins, McLemore said he could see himself in Orlando. "The Orlando Magic, I think that's a great program," McLemore said. "I think I could fit perfectly in that system and that organization and help that team in different kinds of ways."
If they could unload Afflalo in a trade for Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe, they could hypothetically field a team consisting of Bledsoe, McLemore, Harkless, Harris and Vucevic. That lineup would have an average age of 21. Not a bad situation for a team looking to rebuild.
Year 1 AD (After Dwight) in Orlando was rough, but the Magic have nowhere to go but up. Hennigan must continue to be an active GM, which he has shown thus far in his short tenure. If he is, he should be able to put together a young group of guys with the potential to make the Magic respectable again.