5 teams the Orlando Magic will be fighting for a playoff spot
Last Year: 41-41, 8th East
Key Additions: Kobe Bufkin
Key Losses: John Collins
It was a fairly quiet offseason for the Atlanta Hawks after making the very loud move to acquire Dejounte Murray last summer and suffering through a disappointing season in 2023. Still, it is hard to map out what this Hawks team’s future looks like.
They just re-upped Murray on a huge four-year, $120-million contract. So Atlanta is committed to its two-guard lineup of Trae Young and DeJounte Murray for the foreseeable future (although there were some rumors the Hawks might entertain Young trade talks at various points this season).
The guard pairing worked to an extent. Both were stellar at passing and getting the ball moving and consistently put pressure on the defense.
Like everything else, two stars in this league are enough to get you in playoff contention. Orlando is banking on Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner to be its solid stars this year. It is a team’s depth that really makes you a contender or not — for the Magic that should come in the form of Markelle Fultz, Wendell Carter, Cole Anthony, etc.
Depth is the Magic’s biggest strength among a lot of the teams in this group. There is a lot of youth on this team. But there is certainly a belief that youth can come together in a meaningful way.
That is not the strength for the Hawks. They traded away a starter in John Collins in essentially a salary dump, acquiring Rudy Gay and a second-round pick.
Atlanta may be fully embracing a spread offense with Saddiq Bey filling in at power forward to start the year. The Hawks could also be looking to move Clint Capela to give Onyeka Okongwu more minutes. That would be a smart move.
That inevitably means the Hawks might be due for a soft reset this season. They began wiping away some of the older pieces of their previous generation so they could rebuild anew around their two guards. That is a promising idea, but it is still one in progress.
That makes this something of an incomplete team.
They lack consistent shooting — although De’Andre Hunter remains an interesting piece and Saddiq Bey is probably due a bounce-back season — and that means the Hawks are hoping to tread water this year and use their star power to win them that single game int he Play-In Tournament as they did last year in Miami to earn the 7-seed.
The Magic will have to climb over the Hawks in the division and that is a fair goal. Orlando was competitive with Atlanta last year, although the team won just one of the four matchups — that one featured a 50-point quarter in a December win.
This is the team the Magic should be as focused as any other to vanquish and overcome in the standings as that would be a sure sign the Magic are in postseason contention.