5 Things to Watch for During Orlando Magic's Final Games
There are five things that every Orlando Magic fan should have on their radar as the season comes to an end. Many young players are showcasing their skills now for Orlando, and one of them just might take home the Rookie of the Year award.
This season hasn’t been the dream season for the Magic, but they could set themselves up nicely for the future with a couple of moves that fans should be watching for.
Victor Oladipo's ROY Campaign
Victor Oladipo, last year’s No. 2 overall pick, has given early favorite Michael Carter-Williams a fight for the Rookie of the Year award.
It will be very exciting to watch Oladipo battle Carter-Williams for the award over the next few weeks, but the numbers right now are in favor of the Philadelphia 76er.
Carter-Williams is scoring 17.1 points per game this season, while the Magic guard has 13.9 points per game. Oladipo also trails in assists per game and rebounds per game. It will be tough to sway the voters away from Carter-Williams, but Oladipo still has a shot. Just recently in late February, he had one of the best games of his young career versus the Knicks, totaling 30 points and 14 assists. His momentum as of late could possibly persuade the votes in his direction.
Over the last five games, Tobias Harris and Nik Vucevic have been dynamite. During that stretch, Harris is averaging 20.6 points per game, while Vucevic is averaging 17.4 points per game. The pair was also on fire Sunday night when Orlando beat Philadelphia.
Harris scored 31 points and added eight rebounds in the win, and Vucevic had 18 points with 17 rebounds. That performance was Vucevic’s fourth straight double-double.
Looking ahead to next season, it will be interesting to see how these two emerging stars keep playing. Great finishes by the two this season could give Orlando a lot of confidence going into next year.
These last games will be important for Orlando not because of playoff contention, but because of the draft order.
Per Chad Ford of ESPN, the Magic have a 15.6 percent chance to win the lottery and come away with the top pick.
This draft class has some solid players near the top like Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, and Orlando could be in place to take their pick of the three.
Unless the Magic catch fire all of a sudden, they should stay in about the same range they are at now. It is worth watching how their record compares to others as the season closes out.
How Point Guard Position Plays out
The outlook at point guard could go in a few directions. The team could decide to stay with Jameer Nelson, draft a point guard or move Oladipo to the position.
Jameer Nelson could serve as a mentor for younger players like Oladipo or a future draft pick, but his contract is up after next season. Orlando could trade the veteran and possibly get a decent return for him, maybe another draft pick. Nelson’s production certainly hasn’t fallen off; he is averaging 12.3 points per game this season, which is right around his career average of 12.6.
If Orlando doesn’t decide to go with Nelson or move Oladipo over, they could also draft a point guard. Marcus Smart, of Oklahoma State, will probably be the best point guard in this year’s draft if he decides to come out.
Arron Afflalo's Marketability
Arron Afflalo is another player to watch over this final stretch of games. Orlando could decide to shop him around to other teams after the season, making room for Oladipo as the future shooting guard.
He would be a marketable trade option because he is in the midst of his best season, according to the numbers. His 19.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game are all career-highs.
Afflalo becomes an unrestricted free agent after the 2015-16 season, with a player option in 2015. How he plays in the next few weeks and how that affects his trade value will be interesting to watch.