2018-19 Orlando Magic Player Evaluations: Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic are eager to get things going in the 2020 season. (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic are eager to get things going in the 2020 season. (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic, Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
DETROIT, MICHIGAN – MARCH 28: Aaron Gordon #00 of the Orlando Magic gets his shot blocked by Andre Drummond #0 of the Detroit Pistons during the first half at Little Caesars Arena on March 28, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Final Grade

7th Eastern Conference. ORLANDO MAGIC. A-. . 42-40

The Orlando Magic entered this season seemingly ready to transition. The team needed change, the saying went, and success was going to be fleeting and perhaps capped with this group. Fans, at least, believed they had seen all this team could do.

Coach Steve Clifford raised the expectations about the team and got them to play at a higher level. They were a different group and had a different focus. Once they began to believe their talent truly came out.

He turned the team over to Nikola Vucevic and ran the offense through him. That seemed to put other players in the right spot. Everything clicked and the team thrived because of it.

At least, well enough.

While the team accomplished its goal and made the playoffs, they did so in ways that do not seem entirely sustainable. Or at least do not fit a neat vision of the future.

It was free-agents-to-be Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross leading the charge offensively. Aaron Gordon was a vital part, but he filled in gaps throughout the season. And Jonathan Isaac was still growing and getting comfortable on a NBA floor.

The project for the Magic is to build a sustained championship-level team.

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While this team could certainly repeat this magical season — including its extreme injury luck — the team has to be prepared for some major change. And that change could very well create a different atmosphere and different pecking order next year.

The common complaint was that this was some one-off trip to the playoffs for the team. And that is certainly not what Orlando wants or any of the players. And so things will have to shift and change next year as young players improve and take on new, expanded roles.

The Magic have tasted success. They have made their playoff trip. That makes this season an unmitigated success. They surpassed every expectation and delivered fans a ride they will not forget.

In doing so, they laid a foundation for the future iterations of this team. As the team’s core begins to take hold and grow, they will look back to this season as the base.

But that does not mean the team has set itself up for the future quite yet. There are still a lot of unanswered questions that matter for the team’s future. Many will get some answer this offseason. The rest will come with internal development.

Next. Lessons from the Blazers: Find your core and stick with them. dark

The 2019 season saw the Magic discover what is possible. Even when no one expects it.