2013-14 NBA Season Preview Player Power Rankings for Orlando Magic
The more games Orlando plays, the more we are starting to get a gauge on how the Magic will handle their diverse and talented roster this season.
This is a team with a plethora of uncertainties that will have to play themselves out. One certainty that is mostly indisputable is that Orlando will rack up a ton of losses this season.
For now, they are a group of very intriguing talents who will most-assuredly produce a handful of head-scratching plays to go along with the jaw-dropping ones. Their pecking order in terms of minutes and levels of production will depend on both the team's foggy expectations.
On one hand, they can play out the season with the roster as is and see where it gets them. On the other hand, they can do some heavy experimenting with their young talent as well as ship some veterans out of town to try to land one last cornerstone player in a loaded 2014 draft. A closeted season of tanking could unfold, so stay tuned.
Here is how the roster stacks up in terms of power rankings and what to expect from each member of your Orlando Magic.
11-15: Guaranteed Contracts
11. Ronnie Price
Price was brought in this offseason for added point guard depth and to bring veteran experience to an otherwise inexperienced roster.
Jameer Nelson is not what you would call injury-prone, but he does have the propensity to get banged up from time to time.
Having little other than Victor Oladipo at point guard would have left them ill-prepared should Nelson go down or get traded. Price gives them a solid presence behind the ol' Meerkat.
12. Doron Lamb
Lamb is currently nursing a sprained ankle, but upon his return there will be plenty of room on this team for what he can bring to the table.
The second-year man out of Kentucky shot 38 percent from three-point range during his rookie year for a team that was second-to-last in the NBA in that category.
He is likely to see an uptick in minutes on a Magic squad that could desperately use an effective long-range shooter off the bench.
13. E'Twaun Moore
Moore played very well in spurts last season to the tune of 7.8 points and 2.7 assists per contest. He is still very young and inexperienced and will benefit greatly from another season alongside Nelson and the new backup point guard Price.
Moore could work on his consistency a bit, but he is an intriguing talent going forward. It will be interesting to see if he can improve upon his surprising 2012-13 season and take a step up this year.
14. Solomon Jones
Jones won the battle for the final roster spot over the likes of Manny Harris and Kris Joseph. He has seven years of NBA experience and will bring a much needed veteran presence to this young team and teach the young bigs the nuances of the game.
15. Hedo Turkoglu
Yes, Hedo Turkoglu is still on this roster. His buyout will inevitably be settled at some point which will leave Orlando looking to replace his spot.
10. Kyle O'Quinn
Kyle O'Quinn has clearly improved his physique since his rookie year, but his overall basketball prowess has not taken the next step whatsoever.
So far during the preseason, O'Quinn has been very up and down. The final few games saw some improvement, but still leaves much to be desired. He has gotten blasted on the defensive end by the likes of Anthony Davis, Tristan Thompson and Dirk Nowitzki. He has brought pretty much nothing positive to the table so far.
Yes, I understand it is only the preseason. He could very much just be working the rust off, but with Glen Davis out he has been starting at power forward.
If he keeps this up much longer he will be relegated to the bench.
Despite his ineptitude so far, O'Quinn projects as one of the first big men on this depth chart. He is an imposing body in the paint who will hopefully be a more reliable rebounder and defender moving forward.
The team has plenty of scorers, so O'Quinn will need to spend a lot of time with Jason Maxiell to pick up some of that tenacity and use it for his own benefit.
He can be a vital member of this team with a little more seasoning, but the young big man is in a position to take a step forward this year if he can get his act together.
9. Jason Maxiell
Maxiell was brought in on a minor two-year contract this offseason as one of the more underrated signings of the summer.
Maxiell is a banger. He brings toughness to this roster in a way that nobody else is capable of doing. Don't let the Kurt Rambis-esque goggles fool you.
He has always been slightly undersized for his position, but he can eat up minutes at either the four or the five due to his sound fundamentals and powerful build.
Maxiell will shoulder some of the load while Glen Davis is out, as well as eat up a few minutes at center when Nikola Vucevic needs a rest.
Don't expect too much scoring from Maxiell, but expect him to come in and be a veteran leader from day one. He is going to hit the boards hard and contribute to an already strong rebounding team.
This was a good signing by Rob Hennigan. Maxiell will go a long way towards improving this team's overall mentality.
8. Andrew Nicholson
Andrew Nicholson showed some flashes of brilliance during his rookie season, but he will need to show it on a more consistent basis this year to establish himself as a building block on this roster.
The main thing Nicholson worked on this offseason was his outside shot.
It was unreliable last year as he chose to not even attempt a single three-pointer. Along with a shaky and inconsistent mid-range shot, it left him with a limited offensive game.
He has already displayed a confident and legitimate outside shot during the preseason, particularly from the corner. If he can knock those shots down with regularity, it will help out his development tremendously.
Last year, he was left to fend for himself down low too often amongst players way bigger than he is. He will have to make his living in this league as a combo forward, and to do that he will need to hit that outside shot.
If Nicholson proves to be less of a defensive liability, he should see an increased role this season. There is plenty of opportunity for him to show what he can do and the coaching staff has shown lots of faith in him.
It could be a very nice season for Nicholson.
7. Glen Davis
Provided Davis were healthy, he would find himself much higher on this list.
Since he doesn't like the nickname "Big Baby," we may have to now start calling him the "Big Question Mark."
Davis recently expressed concern that his surgically repaired foot will never be the same and that he is legitimately scared about what the future of his career holds.
Prior to going down last season with the foot injury, Davis was having a career year at 15.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. He and Vucevic played off each other perfectly and had Orlando on the rise as one of the surprising teams in basketball.
They were never remotely the same without him.
Moving forward, no one is sure exactly when he projects to return to the court or how effective he will be if and when that day comes.
6. Maurice Harkless
Harkless has a lot on his plate this year with the added responsibility of playing shooting guard. It is a lot of pressure to put on a 20-year-old.
Orlando could either be preparing for a season of tanking, an Afflalo trade or they could legitimately think that the 6'9" Harkless could excel at the two.
During his rookie year, Harkless proved to be the most talented defender on the roster. He averaged a cool 1.2 steals despite inconsistent minutes.
This summer, he worked diligently to improve his outside shot and his ball-handling to help make a seamless transition to playing shooting guard. It remains to be seen how well the position change will work out, but it is not a permanent change. He will still log most of his minutes at the three.
Regardless of how well he adapts to shooting guard, it will benefit him greatly to have a better outside shot. He is one of the most talented players on the roster already and only stands to improve.
If Harkless does not get overwhelmed with the position change, he could force Jacque Vaughn into fielding some pretty imposing lineups such as, Oladipo, Harris and Vucevic all on the court together.
That lineup would cause nightmares for opposing teams.
5. Victor Oladipo
If early impressions are indicative of what is to come, Afflalo and Nelson better watch their backs because Oladipo is coming.
Although he has shown some early growing pains, which is to be expected since the organization is attempting to make Oladipo a point guard, this kid has quickly burst onto the scene with some incredible basketball on both ends of the floor.
He has very quickly proven to be a more adept passer than he was originally given credit for. It may not take long before Hennigan and Jacque Vaughn decide their best course of action is to roll their dice with Oladipo running the team.
He is likely to start off the year as a spark off the bench, but don't expect that to last too long. The No. 2 pick has thrown his name into the hat for early Rookie of the Year candidates.
Victor Oladipo is the kind of playmaker that Orlando lacked last year.
He disrupts teams on the defensive end and causes turnovers, two things that no one outside of Maurice Harkless did much of last season. He will quickly prove to be invaluable when the season starts and push his way into huge minutes from the get-go.
Fans should all be clamoring over this kid. No matter what the final record turns out to be, Oladipo will make basketball in Central Florida much more fun this year.
4. Jameer Nelson
At this point in his career, Jameer Nelson isn't going to surprise anyone. You know for the most part what you're going to get with him.
Last year, he averaged a career high 35 minutes and saw his efficiency dip significantly as a result. He shot under 40 percent from the field for the first time in his career.
Nelson is a solid point guard, but he is not the kind of player you can rely upon to go win games on his own. He is a very good complementary piece, but not one to build a team around.
Also, Nelson has only played more than 70 games one time in the last six seasons. If he gets banged up this go-around, Oladipo could play him right out of Orlando.
With some added talent around him, Nelson should improve on his numbers from last year. He may not put up 14.7 points and 7.4 assists like he did last season, but his percentages should see a spike with more help throughout the team.
Regardless, Nelson is still a key member of the Magic. He still is the straw that stirs the drink as long as he is in town.
3. Arron Afflalo
Arron Afflalo was deemed a huge breakout candidate prior to last season when Orlando acquired him in the blockbuster trade where they sent He Who Must Not Be Named to the Lakers.
In some ways, it was a breakout season for Afflalo. He posted career highs of 16.5 points and 3.2 assists per game.
Despite the numbers, Afflalo saw big dips in his efficiency much like Nelson did. He shot a career-worst 30 percent from beyond the arc, well below his career mark of 40+ percent.
Not having the depth around him like he saw in Denver was likely a huge reason for his swoon. He went from being a middling third or fourth option to being number one. Defenses were able to key in on him like never before.
This year, Afflalo will have a fresh start with some improved players around him.
It is unlikely he will see the type of attention he did last season with Harris and Oladipo in the fold along with a healthy Nelson and a more established Vucevic.
Look for Afflalo to get his three-point percentage back up around 40 this season. After all, he could be showcasing himself for another team.
2. Nikola Vucevic
Vucevic exploded onto the scene last year, averaging 13.1 points and a staggering 11.9 rebounds, good for second in the NBA.
The big man showcased much of the repertoire that made him such a force in the Pac-12 at USC. He was an extraordinary center throughout the entire season and established himself as a foundational player going forward for Orlando.
Now as a player to build around for the future, more will be expected of Vucevic. He can improve on defense as well as becoming a better passer out of double teams.
Vucevic has an impressive array of post moves as well as a mid-range jumper that demands respect. Hopefully for his sake someone else on the roster steps in at power forward to take some pressure off of him on both ends of the court.
This is a player Magic fans need not worry about. Vucevic is one of the best young centers in the game and is going to be around for a while. An improved 2013-14 season could put him in the All-Star discussion.
1. Tobias Harris
J.J. Redick, who?
It took Tobias Harris all of about 15 minutes to erase memories of the former fan favorite from the minds of Magic fans after he was acquired late last season from Milwaukee.
Harris burst onto the scene and quickly proved why he is one of the most compelling young players in basketball.
The question now is whether or not Harris' otherworldly performance last season was a fluke. Early indications are that Orlando is buying into him as their go-to guy.
It doesn't take any stats or extended evaluation to decipher the fact that Harris is Orlando's best player. He is a tremendous offensive talent who is still learning on the other end of the floor.
After beefing up to 240 pounds this offseason, Harris could become more of an impact player on the defensive end.
For now, that is really the only thing separating him from being talked about amongst the absolute best young up-and-comers across the league.
There are exciting times ahead with Harris at the helm. Once he settles more into his comfort zone, the rest of the league will be heading for cover.
He is a rare specimen that Orlando is lucky to have as a building block going forward.