That’s all, folks.
The end of the NBA regular season is finally, and thankfully, upon us. And with it, the Orlando Magic’s prolonged run of defeats is brought to a halt. The focus can now be placed completely on the future, and how the team gets back into playoff contention.
That will depend on a variety of factors — lottery luck, whether Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac can put their injuries behind them and the level of improvement in the young players on the roster to name a few.
There is cause for excitement in Orlando with the youth movement in place, but a lot has to go the Magic’s way for this rebuild to be successful.
The team is still a long way off seriously competing. Steve Clifford’s team had the second-worst offensive rating in the NBA this season, scoring just 104.5 points per 100 possessions which is above only the Oklahoma City Thunder – a team that completely and unashamedly tanked but still ended up with worse odds than Orlando.
Defensively, things are not much better. The team had the fifth-worst defensive rating in the league this season, giving up 113.7 points per 100 possessions.
But while this team’s struggles on both ends of the court are evident, there is hope things can improve sooner rather than later. There have been positives to take from this dreadful season if you look hard enough.
One of the biggest being the sheer number of exciting options the Magic have in the backcourt.
For a long time, there had been little to shout about among fans when it came to the team’s guards. Fultz’s arrival changed that slightly, although there remained questions about his long-term health and the team’s depth behind him.
But in just a few months, the Magic have gone from having limited options in the backcourt to a host of intriguing and impressive talent for both positions.
The Orlando Magic have completely flipped their roster and the promise of a talented and young backcourt has the Magic growing from a new base.
Cole Anthony‘s rookie season has been frustrating but has seen him exhibit plenty of positive moments. Recently named May Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month R.J. Hampton has been a breath of fresh air since his arrival. And while Gary Harris has left a lot to be desired offensively he has displayed his fine ability as an on-ball defender.
Partner those new arrivals with a returning Markelle Fultz, a complete scorer in Terrence Ross and another solid defensive guard in Michael Carter-Williams and coach Steve Clifford has players for all kinds of scenarios at his disposal.
That is before even thinking about this year’s draft, where the Magic may well have two top-10 picks and could take at least one more talented guard to add to the already stacked selection.
If the Magic get lucky and get a top-five pick, we could well see a Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green or Jalen Suggs. All would obviously need a lot of playing time alongside the current crop of guards to develop.
There are plenty of lower lottery guards that would need that too — Keon Johnson and Davion Mitchell to name a couple.
The excitement around the Magic’s possible future backcourt rotation is palpable but throws up plenty of questions too. How will the rotation work? And who deserves priority when it comes to time on the court?
Here are some of the big questions the team must consider next season, and how they might go about answering them as the offseason begins.