Over the next few weeks Orlando Magic Daily will be taking a look at the things that went right and wrong this season as Orlando ended its season with its first Lottery season in six years.
The long-term picture for the Magic looks relatively bright. There is young talent, high draft picks and cap space on the horizon. The long-term view requires patience and heartache. There will be more difficult seasons ahead as the Magic try to build back up. And some luck will be needed.
The future might look bright but it is still the future. It is still uncertain and can take many winding paths.
What we know is the present. And in reviewing this season in isolation, it was a a major struggle.
Orlando was 20-62, the second worst record in franchise history. The Magic finished with the worst record in the league for just the second time in its 24-year history. No way around it, finishing with the worst record in the NBA is a bad thing.
Or maybe it isn't. After all, if you want to build through the draft, you have to lose a little bit to get those high draft picks. The Magic are getting their high draft pick. Mission accomplished.
But the point is to win games. And the Magic did not do that.
Quite simply, whether intentional or not, this Magic roster was not built to win and some guys who played extremely hard were met with the disappointment of losing. You could see it as the days dragged on in January and February. Arron Afflalo was quietly trying to push the team to bigger heights, tempering wins and instilling a hunger to win. Jameer Nelson did that too, and Glen Davis seemed to take losing personally.
But losing still sucks. And being the worst team in the league is not a goal by any means. Nor is it something fans or management should accept under any circumstances.
It might be a long-term benefit. It just is not a title you want to have.
As Mike from Illinois of Orlando Pinstriped Post notes, the Magic set several record lows this season.
This was not the worst team Orlando has had. That distinguished mark is likely held by one of the early teams or the 2003-04 team that finished a disappoitning 21-61 after pushing the top-seeded Pistons to seven games the previous year. That season led to upheaval. This was a season after upheaval and was filled iwth hope.
Not knocking hope, not at all. But, again, when you finish with the worst record in the league something is clearly wrong.
The biggest thing wrong was the Magic were simply asking several players to play roles they simply are not capable of doing at a high level in the NBA.
Arron Afflalo had to take over the role as the team's leading scorer — he did that, averaging 16.5 points per game only being eclipsed by Tobias Harris' 17.0 points per game with the Magic this year. But he was asked to use the ball more than he has ever been asked to do so before. His shooting percentage suffered as did his efficiency.
Jameer Nelson posted career numbers in several areas, including assists and points per game. But he too was left the responsibility of creating for an entire team. Something he can do in spurts but not for an entire game.
Glen Davis was really the only player who stepped up his game and showed real improvement and ability to create offense out of nothing. And he was lost about a quarter of the way through the season.
Once again, this team simply was being asked too much to win. Orlando averaged only 94.1 points per game, 24th in the league, and posted a 101.6 offensive rating, 27th in the league. The Magic knew they would have problems scoring just because there were no guys seemingly capable of taking over that lead scoring role.
It is tough going into a season knowing that it will take perfect basketball to win.
Again, perhaps, that was the design for the roster from the beginning. That is likely.
When you look at the season in isolation though, the roster was doomed from the start. In some sense, that is not a good thing.
What Went Right: Rob Hennigan