The expectation for this team is to make the playoffs. Even without Jonathan Isaac.
Everyone talks about culture and accountability in a franchise, it starts with building a baseline expectation. This is a franchise and a team that should expect nothing less than a postseason appearance.
That is not the end of the journey. That does not define success. But the Orlando Magic should be at a stage where they believe they have a playoff team every time they step on the floor. At least with this group they have assembled.
After all, the Magic went 15-19 before Jonathan Isaac’s injury in January and 15-16 until the season went on hold. As good as Isaac is, the Magic were not that much better or worse without him — although the Magic’s defensive numbers slipped and were slipping before Isaac’s injury.
That is not to say the Magic should commit or believe this group is the answer for the long-term or that the Magic should not prepare for changes in the near-term.
But unless the team does a complete overhaul, this team should believe it can make the playoffs. Yes, teams beneath them will get better. But last year was also a “bad” year for Orlando. Why wouldn’t the Magic get better too?
But a soft reset is definitely something possible too. The Magic should not be selling out to save their playoff spot. They should be trying to build their position for the future and the team they want to be.
I think the Magic will enter the 2021 season trying to make the playoffs with whatever group they come in with — likely with some cosmetic changes, but nothing significant. But if things go wrong quickly in 2021, I think they will look to reset a little more fully and start to sell off pieces.
But the Magic are going to enter the season trying to make the playoffs. That should be the standard and the expectation.
It is a good thing we were disappointed with this season. It is a good thing to be disappointed at being just the 7- or 8-seed. But the baseline expectation for this team is the playoffs. Even if they do not make it this time around.