The Orlando Magic have had a strong start to the season considering their injuries and lack of offense.
The team entered Friday's game against the Denver Nuggets at sixth in the Eastern Conference, but a game back of the Miami Heat and fourth and in a three-way tie with the New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers for sixth, seventh and eighth. The Eastern Conference playoff race figures to be a tight one.
And there are clear needs for the team moving forward both for this season and moving well beyond it. The Magic front office has done little to make win-now acquisitions in their tenure. But the team is in the thick of this race now.
The winning window is open. Now is the time to compete.
The young core is assembled and capitalizing on future draft picks to acquire areas of need will go a long way for this team. Orlando is starting a rookie point guard with little experience in Anthony Black. He needs time to develop his offensive game before he can be an elite contributor.
Through 34 games, the playoffs look like they are a real possibility. Competing late in the season in a playoff series would be instrumental to the development of winning basketball in Central Florida.
Drastic change might not be realistic but minor moves could significantly improve how this team operates on offense this year and make the most of this season.
The Magic could use some veteran players who can handle and shoot the basketball. Orlando needs to emphasize limiting turnovers and spreading the floor to allow Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner to create. A third-option scoring threat who can create for others and himself will open up the court for the entire roster.
President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman is certainly looking at options throughout the league, but it is difficult to determine who is on the trading block. There is still so much young talent this team will want to hang onto.
But the Magic have to assess their roster and determine who has a market and what the team can extract. While Orlando has valued its continuity and should continue to do so, the team clearly neeeds changes. And the trade deadline might be the first time this team can be aggressive since Weltman took over.
With the trade deadline coming up on Feb. 8, we are taking the step of evaluating the Magic's trade assets based on their contribution to the team, their existing contract and how they can help other teams around the league.
This is a ranking of players by how likely they are to be traded this season. Please note, Cole Anthony is not included here because he is ineligible to be traded after signing an extension this summer.