As we inch closer to the quarter mark of the 2013-14 NBA season, the Orlando Magic are showing a bit more promise than expected. Given the current embarrassing state of the Eastern Conference as a whole, it is not ridiculous at all to declare them ready to make a playoff run.
Certain players have exceeded expectations while others have fallen short. Two of the team's best players have also yet to even get their feet wet this year. All thoughts of tanking have to be temporarily put to rest until we see exactly what this team is capable of doing at full strength.
As for the power rankings, 14 guys have seen court time so far this season, with Hedo Turkoglu being that party guest who just won't leave.
11. Ronnie Price
Ronnie Price was brought in during free agency this offseason and has had little opportunity behind Jameer Nelson and Victor Oladipo on the depth chart. In his limited minutes, he has produced some solid performances and has protected the ball very well. Regardless, he will remain an afterthought unless Nelson gets injured or traded.
12. Solomon Jones
Jones surprisingly made the roster out of training camp and has contributed very little in his minuscule amount of playing time. He does not provide much outside of a big veteran body to eat up garbage-time minutes, as he has throughout the majority of his career. With Glen Davis and Tobias Harris remaining injury risks, Jones still has value to this team as an emergency big.
13. Doron Lamb
Doron Lamb has shown little outside of a decent three-point shot thus far in his underwhelming NBA career. It was thought that he could contribute more this season, but to this point he has been just as much of a non-factor this year as he was last season. With other players at his position playing well on the roster, there is little use for him right now.
14. Tobias Harris
Harris can't seem to overcome his high ankle sprain, but he could be eased into action some time relatively soon. This was supposed to be a breakout campaign for the young forward, so it is a shame to see his train stuck in neutral at the moment.
Harris scored six points in his one game so far this season and could give this team a huge jolt whenever he returns to the hardwood.
Orlando has received a considerable boost now that Glen Davis is not only back, but looking like his old self.
Davis was having a career year last season before his foot injury derailed it. It lingered into this year, but now he is rounding into form with no minutes restriction, as evidenced by his 50-minute, 33-point performance against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Davis still clocks in at No. 10 on the power rankings because his handful of games have provided a solid impact in the wake of Harris' absence. Orlando was on a roll early last season, and with a healthy Davis they just may be able to make a little bit of a run in the laughably-weak Eastern Conference.
Of all the young players on the Magic roster, O'Quinn is the one who has progressed the least.
With Davis out, O'Quinn had his moments to seize a bigger role on this team. He performed miserably throughout the preseason, and although has put up solid per-36 numbers in his small role, he has foiled an opportunity to carve out a larger niche.
Now that Davis has returned, O'Quinn is truly behind the eight-ball. He is likely to see a few "DNPs" as he slides down the depth chart. However, the young big still has big value to Orlando as he is the first man up if Davis goes down again.
Jason Maxiell was brought to town to instill toughness and veteran grit to a very young roster. He has done that in parts, but his numbers leave much to be desired.
Maxiell has never been a big threat on the offensive end, but he has been even less productive this season on that side of the ball. His defense and rebounding are also lacking.
In 19 minutes per game, Maxiell is averaging just three boards, well behind his career-high 5.7 per game last year in just 24 minutes a night.
Maxiell checks in at the eight spot for weathering the storm along the front line in midst of the injuries. He will not likely go any higher than this spot unless another injury creates a bigger opportunity for him to thrive.
The early portion of the 2013-14 season has not been too kind to Maurice Harkless.
His numbers are equal at best to what he churned out last season so far. There was some noise in the offseason that this would be a big year for him after working on his ball-handling and outside shot as well as making a change to shooting guard.
The Harkless shooting guard experiment has not gone without speed bumps. Inconsistency has been the biggest hurdle that young 20-year-old Harkless has been unable to overcome. During a stretch of games in mid-November, Harkless followed up three consecutive double-digit scoring games with five consecutive games scoring five points or less.
The season is still young and Harkless is still loaded with potential, but he is going to have to start showing it a bit more frequently to avoid fading away once Harris comes back for good.
E'Twaun Moore has been a pleasant surprise in the backcourt for Jacque Vaughn this season.
Moore has taken on the role of first guard off the bench. He has hit the ground running and is playing like he never wants to let go of his new role. For what it's worth, any Jameer Nelson trade would leave the team in much better hands now that Oladipo has shaken off the rookie jitters and Moore has taken a step forward.
Moore has played a steady 23.4 minutes per game and has averaged less than one turnover in his time on the court. He has also knocked down 41 percent of his threes and done a solid job on defense and distributing the ball.
It would have been easy to see Moore slide down the depth chart, but he has forced Vaughn's hand and played his way into some legitimate court time so far.
Although Jameer Nelson is having his worst season in years, he is still fifth in the power rankings for Orlando.
Nelson's field-goal percentage has decreased for the sixth straight season, while his assists are down and his turnovers are at a career high despite the decreased minutes.
Oladipo has started to show signs of putting it all together at the point guard spot, which has had an adverse effect on Nelson's play. Nelson will never be more than a secondary player at this point, whereas Oladipo is already showing signs of being a star.
At age 31, it is highly unlikely Nelson will improve much. He has been trending downward for some time.
Andrew Nicholson has taken some profound steps forward in his second season down in Orlando.
All his offseason work to develop an outside shot has noticeably paid off. He has already made 11 threes after not launching a single trey throughout his rookie season.
Nicholson continues to score at an elite rate for a forward, just as he did during his rookie year. He has consistently converted at over 50 percent and has now become a bigger threat on the glass as well, logging 9.8 boards per 36 minutes.
Due to Orlando's depth at the position, Nicholson has gotten the short end of the stick. He has been playing phenomenal basketball so far and is proving that he can be a very reliable guy to help build around for years to come.
Oladipo has left very little doubt as to why he was drafted second overall this past June.
Despite leading the league in turnovers, he has shown glimpses of toning it down recently. It didn't take him long to drop his first triple-double in Jameer Nelson's absence. Almost as impressive were his measly three turnovers in his whopping 50 minutes of playing time.
The turnovers were to be expected for a guy making an unexpected transition to point guard. He has struggled with his outside shot at times as well, but Oladipo is a terror in the open court and on the defensive end. He is beginning to play with more confidence and get to the rim as well by breaking down defenders and getting to the line.
The next step for Oladipo is to continue to decrease his turnovers and increase his proficiency in getting his teammates involved. The former Hoosier has made a loud statement in his quest to win Rookie of the Year.
There are few, if any centers who are undeniably trumping Nikola Vucevic's early-season dominance this year.
Vucevic has somehow improved upon last year's breakout campaign. He has increased his field-goal percentage and is now scoring 14.7 points per game by working on his post game and jacking up his free-throw percentage to a more-than-respectable 77.6 percent.
His rebounding is slightly down at the moment, but he is still elite in that category. Vucevic has made a marked improvement on defense as well as he continues to make use of his titanic 7'5" wingspan.
Vucevic is becoming more than just a mid-range shooter and dominant rebounder. He is continuing to develop into a dominant franchise center in a league devoid of great talent at that position. It is hard to believe that he is not atop this power rankings list, but there was just one man who has done too much to keep off the throne.
Arron Afflalo has so far fixed his uncharacteristic shooting woes that plagued him last season.
Afflalo is currently among the elite scorers in the league at 21.4 points per game. His peripherals are also at career highs in terms of rebounds and assists. It is a real possibility that he is making due on his untapped potential and becoming the go-to guy Orlando thought they might have been getting when they pulled the trigger on their Dwight Howard trade last year.
Afflalo put up some nice numbers scoring the ball last year, but his shot selection was questionable and his efficiency suffered dramatically. Now, he is up to 47.6 percent from three-point range, a huge leap from his paltry 30 percent last year.
It is up for debate whether or not his numbers are sustainable, but one would have to think that they are at least to a certain extent. His poor shooting from last season could have easily been an outlier and an example of him struggling to adapt to being the main option on offense.
Orlando has been forced to put their expected season of tanking on hold, and the man leading that charge has been Afflalo. He has been as good as anyone could have asked so far.