2020 New Year’s Resolutions for the Orlando Magic

Aaron Gordon helped the Orlando Magic debut their new City Edition jersey.(Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Aaron Gordon helped the Orlando Magic debut their new City Edition jersey.(Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic will end the 2019 calendar year under .500 and will need to make some New Year’s Resolutions in order to remain in the hunt for a Playoff spot.

The decade is almost over for the Orlando Magic.

Unfortunately for them, it was one they want to forget.

The Magic went 302-453 (40.0-percent win percentage) but also went through a difficult rebuild that saw them miss the playoffs for six straight years.

That came because of Dwight Howard‘s trade request in 2012 and his ultimate departure in a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers. That whole ordeal seemed to rip apart the entire franchise and there are still reverberations from the Dwight-mare playing out within the organization, even if Howard’s play has fallen off significantly.

Orlando tried to go through a rebuild that focused on adding young players in the draft and fostering their growth. It was difficult and saw the team mired in the muck of the lottery ringer — going through coaches in Jacque Vaughn, James Borrego, Scott Skiles and Frank Vogel in a three-year period — and eventually move on from general manager Rob Hennigan.

This was the lowest point for Magic fans in Central Florida. Things seemed bleak.

Fast forward to Wednesday which marks the beginning of a new decade, a new opportunity for the Magic to improve on last season where they finished with a seventh seed in their return to the Playoffs.

While the Magic sit in eighth in the Eastern Conference entering the new calendar year, the Magic feel a bit uneasy of their position. A surprising and disappointing loss to the league-worst Atlanta Hawks — without Trae Young — at home has raised plenty of new questions about this team’s urgency and focus on improving its playoff standing.

There are things that need to be fixed at the beginning of the new decade for the team to have success.

First, the Magic have to find a way to play with more passion on both sides of the ball. The team has not found its pulse yet and in order for the Magic to play at a high level, they need to add this element to their team in the new year. We have seen it in spurts but not consistently.

Sometimes that takes someone being benched in favor of someone who plays with more passion, sometimes it takes a coach making changes in their offensive or defensive philosophy. And sometimes it means making a trade to ensure you get a player you know will bring that element to the table.

The Magic have not played up to their potential this year. Players acknowledge they have not played to the standard they set for themselves. It is time for the team to lock in at every level and play at that level.

Secondly, the Magic have to find a way to get Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac to play at their nearest offensive potential. Right now the two are considered role players for a low-seeded Eastern Conference team.

But if the Magic want to win big and reach their full potential these two guys have to be able to lead on both sides of the ball.

Right now that is not the case.

Aaron Gordon is averaging 13.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game in more than 31 minutes of action per game. While Jonathan Isaac is averaging 12.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. Although both of these guys are putting up good rebounding efforts, this is not the stat line that you would see from the leaders of a NBA team.

At this point,  Evan Fournier is stepping up and proving to be the leader for this particular unit. He is averaging 19.5 points, 2.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. While the second-leading scorer, Nikola Vucevic, is averaging 18.1 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. Not too shabby.

But these types of numbers should be coming from the higher draft selections like Isaac and Gordon. They are the one who should define the franchise’s future.

Making the playoffs remains an important goal for the Magic. But it is also clear the limitations of this Magic roster. At some point, the Magic have to test these two young players to see if they are players the franchise can build itself around.

As of right now, the team is hanging on to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference primarily due to the bottom half of the East being so weak. The Magic will need to play better in the new year in order to hold off the Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets.

Lastly, the team needs to make adjustments on how they are going to pressure opponents from the start of the game.

The Magic’s defense has slipped this year, falling to 11th in the league after finishing eighth last year. And while Orlando has some strong defensive moments, it is nowhere near consistent enough to lift this team to the heights it wants to achieve.

More ball pressure may create more opportunities to get steals. More steals could lead to the defense creating offensive opportunities for a team that does not have a superstar player who can get their own shot consistently.

These are three new year resolutions that the Magic need to make in order to make another Playoff run and continue moving in the right direction.

dark. Next. Orlando Magic must continue to be patient

The Magic certainly still have a lot of work to do. But this team is more than capable of starting off this decade right and building a better future for the next 10 years.