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The NBA season starts one week from today. The Magic open up in Indianapolis against the Pacers. And despite the very likely possibility that the Magic will not win very many games, there are a lot of reasons to be excited.
This is going to be another year of growth for this young squad, but there is plenty of young talent to develop and watch that should continue to make the season interesting.
How interesting? That is what I asked Chris Barnewall of Rufus on Fire and HawkHoop on this week's episode of the Orlando Magic Daily Podcast. We start off talking about this year's team, move on to talk of the 25th Anniversary season and end up on random topics around the NBA.
Philip Rossman-Reich, Orlando Magic Daily: What has you excited about this year's Magic team?
Chris Barnewall, Rufus On Fire/HawkHoop: This year's Magic team is going to be really exciting and fun because this is the year we get to know what these guys are made of, what their roles are and who is really going to be the future of the team. Is Andrew Nicholson going to be around the whole time? Is Harkless really a starter or is he a bench guy? Who is trade bait? What is Tobias Harris really? Is he just a high-volume shooter or can he actually consistently score efficiently? It's going to be really fun to see what guys can become. And, of course, the Victor Oladipo point guard experiment. On a bad team, watching a guy play out of position, that's going to be fun.
PRR: There is obviously a lot of talent on this team. I am interested to see how all this comes together too. I have always toyed in my mind: is Nikola Vucevic a guy the Magic are going to let go in restricted free agency? I think this is a big year for him too to show that the results from last year weren't kind of a fluke. I don't think a lot of people think it was a fluke. But to kind of see whether he's going to hit restricted free agency or the Magic are going to throw some money at him.
CB: I'm pretty sure you've seen, I'm not the biggest Vucevic fan. He's a very very solid rebounder and I think he could develop into something more. But right now, the only attribute I see him contribute to the team is rebounding. Yeah, he had some 20/20 games last season, but in those he got them mainly off rebounds or dump offs from other guys. I want to see him be able to do something on his own whether it is excellent passing or develop that mid-range jumper he showed a couple times last season. Just something besides reading.
PRR: And I think we would all like to see him develop a bit of a mean streak on the defensive end.
CB: Something on defense becuase his defense is not terrible, but it could really use some improvement.
PRR: And, of course, the problem with big men is that there are so few of them that you know someone is going to throw a lot of money at him. I think he is going to really test Rob Hennigan's ability as a general manager to spend money and to spend it wisely.
Of course, that is a few years away. I think it is still going to be a feeling out process with Vucevic and a lot of these guys this year. Who is the guy you see as going to make the biggest strides this season?
CB: Kyle O'Quinn definitely. He spent the majority of his time last season on the bench, not playing a lot of minutes on the team. I am very excited for how he is going to do. It looks like, from what I've seen, he has played a lot of minutes in the preseason and he played a lot during Summer League too. He is ready to be playing with the team at an NBA level. I can't wait to see what he brings.
PRR: Is he going to crack that power forward rotation that the Magic have? They've got a lot of guys that can play the 4 right now. Who is going to be the odd man out? Eventually Glen Davis is going to come back. Harris is going to see some time at the 4, I bet. Jason Maxiell is on the team. Andrew Nicholson is on the team. Is he going to be the odd man out? Is he going to be backing up Vucevic? How do you see Vaughn managing that rotation?
CB: I see him trying to get him minutes at the 5 until the team trades or releases Davis in some way. I think there is not a Magic fan out there who thinks Davis is going to be here for the long haul. We all have our gripes and our loves of Big Baby but we can't see him being around as part of the future when he is at his age and at his current skill set.
PRR: Many thanks to Chris for joining me on the podcast. You can listen to the full podcast by clicking the MP3 players above or by downloading the podcast on iTunes. Just search Orlando Magic Daily and you will see our banner come up with all the episodes.