More NBA previews out there as training camps are opening up. This one comes from Grantland's pre-eminent podcasters Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose as they take their irreverant look at the Magic, Orlando and the NBA.
The summary of this preview — they have the Magic No. 28, with some disagreement — is that Orlando is selling Magic fans on hope. Lots and lots of hope.
No one doubts that there is a lot of great talent in the upcoming NBA Draft and that scoring a high draft pick would really set up the Magic well. That is why Bill Simmons feels Orlando could make some sneaky moves late in the season to ensure losing — including the move to play Victor Oladipo at point guard.
But Jalen Rose believes there is a lot of talent on the roster and the team could be sneaky good. Certainly better than 28th. They both seem to like the young talent — particularly Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris — the Magic have begun to amass and let grow.
A lot of the podcast is spent debating the Oladipo question at point guard. That argument probably needs to be proven on the court.
Hope though is what the Magic are selling — well, hope and nostalgia. And, according to Alex Martins, they are selling it well.
Magic COO Alex Martins told Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld that the team is selling tickets at a solid rate for a team coming off the worst record in the league and that financially the team is tracking well:
What I will tell you is that our fan base and corporate America in particular is as interested in this team as they ever have been. From a business standpoint, the pre-sale for the season has been tremendous. Even last year, our fans proved that they’re among the best fans in the league coming out for a team that record-wise was the worst team in the NBA and still coming out with over 17,000 people a night, and I do believe that we’ll see similar results this year so the fans understand what we’re doing. I do believe that they like the way that we are developing this team for the future to consistently win over a long period of time and they’re continuing to invest in the product.
That is very much a good sign for the organization. Fans have been extremely understanding and patient with the rebuild. Although, there is no telling how long that will last.
And while season ticket sales might be on track, actual attendance at the Amway Center might not be. That may not affect the bottom line so much.
In either case, the Magic seem to be in a good place all things considered. The team will be trying to show continued progress. That is the team's stated goal this year. Everyone else can figure out right now where that places the Magic in the NBA.