It has been six long years for the Orlando Magic outside the Playoff picture. That might still be a stretch. But the Magic might be in for a surprising 2019 campaign.
As the season inches closer, it appears that nearly every Eastern Conference team has a path to the postseason. While it may be a long shot for some, the Orlando Magic included, LeBron James‘ exit has created a wide-open race.
While it may not appear, the Magic can contend for a postseason berth, they have the potential to surprise the NBA. A young team full of hungry players and what projects to be a strong defense will not be an easy task for opposing teams. If things break right and their young players take some major growth, why wouldn’t the Magic be a surprise?
That seems to be Steve Clifford’s thought about his new team.
The Magic will not be able to match up concerning talent. But if the roster buys into Clifford’s system, they will be a scrappy team who fights during every possession.
Orlando is also gifted with players that have immense talent. Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac and Mohamed Bamba need time to grow. But the trio could be the foundation the Magic have been searching for since 2012.
The landscape of the Eastern Conference will also help matters. There are so many teams either tanking or trying to groom their young Draft picks that one team who has sat at the bottom of the East is due to rise.
If the Magic can stay within reach of the later seeds, there will undoubtedly be a handful of teams trying to sell at the deadline. As more teams fall out of the race in the dead of winter, the Magic need to be average to stay in the hunt.
It seems far fetched even now, perhaps. The Magic have not come close to the Playoffs in six years and this year’s roster is largely the same as last year’s disappointing 25-win team.
For Orlando, there are some key factors which could lead them to see a big jump in their win total and make some noise next season. Maybe they can surprise. And if they do these things, there will be plenty of reason to believe.