It's the midway point and the Magic are bad, and that's ok!
But after back-to-back seasons, how much more bad can Orlando handle?
At 7-34, the Magic are in sole possession of dead last in the NBA standings. And while many would find that at the least concerning, Magic ownership are doubling down by re-signing the front office group to an extension through the 2025-26 season. Maybe this is a move of an owner showing faith in a group that has shown an eye for talent, or maybe it is chasing your own bet because you don't know what to do at this point. Either way, there are some things to look forward to going in to the second half of the season with first year coach Jamahl Mosley.
1. The return of Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac
I know, I know. We have been hearing about this all season but it is really going to happen. I think. At some point. Even if it is just to increase their value on the trade market, these two players are maybe the most talented on the roster at this point and could make some, sorry I have to say it, magic happen...... Just not too much, we don't want to lose any ping pong balls.
2. The return of Jalen Suggs
Who else was at the Amway Center on draft night and got to hear the arena erupt into cheers when Toronto passed on Suggs as he fell into the Magic's lap? Yeah, that may have been the loudest cheers for Suggs to this point in the season. He has had flashes of what made him great at Gonzaga, tenacious defense, good motor, and a great interview, but the offensive side of his game just hasn't transitioned to the NBA game just yet. And now a thumb injury has him sidelined next to Fultz and JI, still with no return timetable announced. But with all the pressure placed on him, maybe a few weeks on the bench is exactly what his game needed.
3. The NBA Rookie of the Year battle
While a lot of people will look towards maybe Evan Mobley with the Cavs or even No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham in Detroit, it's Orlando's other first round pick that is making the most noise. Franz Wagner has been the steal of the draft after the Magic picked him 8th, three picks after Jalen Suggs, leading all rookies in scoring so far this season and playing in all 41 games. He also earned NBA Rookie of the Month for December as his game continues to develop.
4. More Home Games
The Magic have played 7 more games on the road than at home so far this season, and currently rank 10th in the league when it comes to strength of schedule. Now it's not like this team is going to benefit much from an easier schedule going forward, they are still on pace to finish last in the league after all, but they will benefit from a little bit of home cooking. After only having 5 home games in the month of December, playing in front of the home town crowd a bit more may be just enough to snap the current 9 game slide they are on.
5. Another high overall pick
Now let's be really real, this team is not good. There are a lot of pieces missing and a lot of developing to do of other guys. But that leaves the Magic in a position for another high draft pick that can always lead to the hope of finding "that guy". And that is really all we want right? Just that bit of hope that next year everyone will be healthy and all those missing pieces and untapped potential come together with that one pickup that takes the team over the edge.
But how bad is too bad?
As someone who was against breaking up the team when they did last season, I can admit I like the direction the team is headed. Even if it is just a glimmer. But after back-to-back seasons of making the playoffs to back-to-back seasons at the bottom of the league, this franchise has taken a lot of risks that will need to payoff for a fanbase to accept the extensions of Jeff Weltman and John Hammond as more than chasing a bet.
But what do you think of the track the Magic are on right now? Let me know in the comments below or also leave a comment on social media @MySportsFlorida on Twitter and Instagram.
photo by: Greg Rhodes