For the first time in what feels like forever, Orlando Magic fans can confidently say they have a great basketball team.
The days of talking about the future and refreshing Tankathon might just be over.
Yes, the Magic do have a bright future. They have not even begun to scratch the surface of what they can be. But right here and right now, we can finally have nuanced conversations about this season, without even having utter the word potential.
And it feels good.
As it currently stands, the Magic are the third in the Eastern Conference, boasting a 16-7 record, and owners of the third-best defensive rating in the league at 108.7 points allowed per 100 possessions. They have the fifth-best net rating at +5.2 points per 100 possessions and quite frankly play some of the most physical and aggressive basketball in the whole NBA.
And, for the cherry on top, the Magic are 16th in offensive rating at 113.8 points per 100 possessions. They are on track to be outside the bottom 10 in offensive rating for the first time since Dwight Howard was on the team 2012.
You would be hard-pressed to find another team in the league competing at their level night in and night out. All of this is also coming with a real home-court advantage at Amway Center, with the Magic only losing two homes so far this season -- and one of those was in Mexico City.
Given their choice of possible outcomes to start this season, Magic fans might not be able to dream up a better result, except for maybe an appearance in the In-Season Tournament Quarterfinals.
The best part about being in the mix at this point in the season is these games now mean something. They always mean something in the win-loss column. But now fans get to watch games with an eye on the playoffs.
Each regular season game could be a potential playoff matchup down the line. The Magic will be trying out lineups, different defensive assignments and mixing up the offensive sets, all in preparation for trying to make some noise later in the season.
The second quarter of the schedule holds some serious tests for this Magic team. Just like the first, when the calendar hits mid-January, we will have an even clearer picture of where this team stands.