Frank Vogel has no Magic wand, Orlando Magic still need to get better

Mar 29, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo (5) drives to the basket as Brooklyn Nets guard Wayne Ellington (21) defends during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 29, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo (5) drives to the basket as Brooklyn Nets guard Wayne Ellington (21) defends during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic were largely hailed for hiring Frank Vogel. He certainly makes the team better. But the Magic must still improve their personnel and core.

The dust has settled from last week’s introduction of Frank Vogel as the Orlando Magic’s next head coach. The focus has moved quietly to the Draft, as the Orlando Magic do.

There is still something of a celebration among Magic fans in hiring a coach of Vogel’s caliber. Somehow, the Magic backed their way into one of the very best coaches in the entire league in a universally praised hire.

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It seems the Magic have become instantly better just by Vogel’s presence. That is not even with a shred of evidence that what he wants to do can work with this roster. Ostensibly, he is a calmer, more successful version of Scott Skiles. And the Magic did not quite take to his defensive wizardry.

That is not to say Vogel cannot succeed or that this hiring is doomed from the start. Vogel is a very capable coach and exactly the coup everyone is characterizing him to be.

Still, he is not a magician. His mere presence is not going to drastically change things for the Orlando Magic.

Sure, his principles and skill as a defensive tactician should make the Magic a better team. It already feels like the team is better even before it makes changes. Probably not Playoff good but still better.

Vogel is the kind of coach that makes the players on his roster better. The Magic are better just for having him.

But that does not mean they have climbed that mountain. Not for sure. There are still questions about this roster and its personnel that need answering. Answers that are still not likely to be get complete solutions through free agency, more controversy through trades and hope through growth and development.

The future for the Orlando Magic is not on Vogel’s shoulders. Not entirely. His reputation is established and strong. If he cannot do something with this team, there may not be anyone who can.

It is this Magic team that is still greatly unproven. And as much as Vogel can add to their talent through his coaching, it is still up to them to take the next step in 2017 and become that Playoff team everyone seemed to believe they were in 2016 and seemingly have to be by next April.

A good coach is important. It can be the difference between a team reaching its potential and woefully underperforming. The Magic during the four years of this rebuild have collected a lot of talent. Everyone seems to agree there are some quality NBA players in Orlando, if not a good fit at least they are quality players.

It is also abundantly clear that the first three years, coaching held them back in some way. The Magic were not put in positions to succeed all the time and the team did not reach its potential.

Scott Skiles pushed the ball a little bit further. The team improved and had more accountability. But it was also clear some of his coaching decisions did not help the team long term.

It was also somewhat clear the Magic players themselves were either not getting what Skiles wanted them to do or simply not doing what made them successful for the first half of the season. The Magic will go as far as their players will take them.

That is always the case. This is a players’ league. They ultimately determine how far a team will go.

Vogel can amplify what they do, but how much better the Magic will be is dependent on how the players development. It is dependent on answering whether Victor Oladipo can take the leap to stardom. It is dependent on Elfrid Payton growing and developing as a point guard, becoming more consistent on both ends. It is about Aaron Gordon and Mario Hezonja beginning to scratch their potential.

Yes, the Magic will be making a push in free agency and looking to add to this core. That will be as important as anything the Magic do this summer. Barring a major change to the Magic’s key players though, the season is still on those players the Magic drafted.

Orlando’s rebuild was about the four players the team has drafted the last three years — Oladipo, Gordon, Payton and Hezonja. That is essentially the team’s core.

They have now had two full-time coaches and are going on their third to figure this all out.

Vogel is the kind of coach that can get the most out of these players. At least that is the going belief. There is no reason to think otherwise.

With so much change to the roster and its coaching staff the last few years, the players hold the responsibility for turning things around. Simply changing coaches, even to one as good as Vogel is going to change things — although it certainly will boost the team.

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The reality for the Magic though does not change. For the team to take a step forward, the pieces they bring in — coach and free agent — have to make the current core better. The current core has to be better to turn this team around and accomplish the goals they have set for themselves.