Are the Orlando Magic better today than they were in April?
Scricca: 100 percent. The Magic significantly improved their bench by effectively replacing Jeff Green, D.J. Augustin and Mario Hezonja with Jonathon Simmons, Shelvin Mack and Jonathan Isaac. They now have several great athletes who can blitz opposing offenses, disrupt passing lanes, switch on the pick-and-roll, dunk on everyone and play both ends in transition. The half court offense might not be pretty at times, but it will be better. There is still a long road ahead before this team is close to contention, but the future looks brighter and the present looks like it will be exciting to watch.
Rossman-Reich: It seems odd to say a team that made just three changes (so far) and none to the starting lineup is significantly better. And maybe significantly is not the right adjective. But the Magic are better today than they were to end the season. They got at least two quality rotation players to bolster a bench that dropped the ball consistently to end last season. They have confidence from the way they finished the season. And the comfort of having the same coaching staff and knowing each other. Orlando’s best decision may have been to stand pat and evaluate things. The Eastern Conference has fallen to the Magic’s level, it seems. It is easy to start believing again. That might be getting too far ahead. There are still reasons for skepticism. But the Magic sure do feel more optimistic these days.
Doyle: Yes, but barely. Jonathan Isaac is not going to be much of a factor in his rookie season and Shelvin Mack and Jonathon Simmons are just role players. But the team is in a better place than it was in April. The front office has not had the flexibility to make wholesale changes to the roster yet. But a foundation should be in place soon. Like Philip said, the Eastern Conference has fallen to Orlando’s level. To be frank, it is a pathetic conference on paper. There is hope the team can figure it out and at least be in the race for a late seed. Much of that hope is due to the quiet moves the front office made this offseason.
Treadway: Absolutely. The immediate improvement to me that jumps off the page while looking at the new roster is how much better the bench has gotten. A big reason for this is clearly the additions of solid players picked up in the offseason: Isaac, Simmons and Mack. But even more so, the Magic shed players who were eating up bench minutes while not contributing much on the floor. By letting go of Jeff Green and C.J. Watson, it allowed the Magic to replace them with players who will right away make more impact in Jonathon Simmons and Shelvin Mack. By waiving Stephen Zimmerman it adds more space for Jonathan Isaac to play and grow. And even though some may say the Magic lost scoring off the bench by letting Jodie Meeks go, they got Jonathon Simmons in return who may not shoot as well but provides solid defense and hunger to get better and win. The biggest improvement of all, getting a new front office who seems to have a direction, a sense of what a team needs to look like to compete in this league and experience on how to make the right moves at the right time. They also kept the coaching the same, the first time in a while that has happened. They added some much-needed stability. It is often said that for winning to happen in an organization it starts at the top and trickles down becoming infectious. Hopefully with this new front office, and a coach with a winning background and some comfortability that winning attitude will trickle down to the players and translate on the court to some wins.