With nothing going on in the NBA this month, ESPN has resorted to lists to fill space. This year, they picked an interesting one by ranking teams based on their under-25 talent.
You would figure that with Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, Maurice Harkless and even Doron Lamb, the Magic would rank pretty highly considering the young talent they have put together.
ESPN does not appear to think so. Amin Elhassen of ESPN (Insider, sorry) ranked the Magic 17th in terms of talent under 25. Here is his rationale:
The Magic don't have any birds in hand, so they decided to plant an orchard of bushes. Vucevic was unexpectedly the best center to come out of the Dwight Howard-Andrew Bynum trade last summer, providing finishes out of the pick-and-roll and solid rebounding on both ends. Orlando has other promising young talent: Harris blossomed after being acquired midseason from Milwaukee; Nicholson has shown promise as a post scorer who can also step out and shoot the medium-range jumper; and Harkless has the potential to be a do-it-all wing player. The addition of Oladipo via the draft brings someone who can set the culture and tone for Orlando's future.
There is a good collection of young talent with the Magic some very young talent that is sure to grow. Even Andrew Nicholson (24) and Kyle O'Quinn (23) could easily develop into solid rotation players.
What teams could the Magic possibly pass in the rankings? The Bobcats are 15th with Kemba Walker, Bismack Biyombo and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Indiana is 13th with pretty much Paul George the only key player under 25 (maybe Lance Stephenson too?). The Wizards are 11th with Bradley Beal, John Wall and Otto Porter under 25.
You could certainly argue the Magic are better than a few of these teams in terms of under 25 talent. Another year growing together definitely could have them climbing this list in the coming year.
The Thunder are in first understandably with Kevin Durant at 24, Serge Ibaka at 23 and Russell Westbrook at 24. The Pelicans are second (Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans) and the Jazz (Trey Burke, Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward).
Let the debate begin.