Offseason grades: Do you believe in Magic?

Offseason grades: Do you believe in Magic?
September 19, 2013, 2:45 pm
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Recently we have looked at a few grades various sites have handed out to the Wizards. Of course, context is everything. In other words, how are the other teams in the Southeast Division shaping up?

We started by analyzing NBA.com's look at the Wizards, and then moved to AtlantaCharlotte and Miami. Up next, Orlando.

Magic, D: To this point, can't say I've had any issue with the grades. This one, a little bit; the Magic are not a playoff team, but they are not equal to Charlotte either. However, I can see why there is a difference of opinion based on this section of the NBA.com overview referencing the Magic moving on from Dwight Howard:

"What still stings, though, is the precipitous drop from Eastern Conference power to lottery crew and how hard it is and how lucky you have to be (in the lottery) to change your fortunes. This group can show all the promise in the world this season and squeeze every ounce of production out of this roster that they can and they'll still be light years away from where they were as recently as 2009, when they finished the season as the best team in the Eastern Conference and matched up against the Lakers in The Finals."

Sure, these aren't your older brother's Orlando Magic, but they are quickly bouncing off the bottom. Big props to Orlando GM Rob Hennigan for winning the Dwight Howard multi-team trade thanks to the play of impressive big man Nik Vucevic plus guard Arron Afflalo and forward Moe Harkless (the Magic also picked up future first round picks - and new Wizard Al Harrington). Tack on landing 2012 first-rounder Tobias Harris from Milwaukee in a short-sided deal for J.J. Redick and Hennigan snagged building blocks for players who wanted out or were weeks away from becoming a free agent. 

Fine, we're not talking about any transcendent talents in that mix - yet so many believe rookie guard Victor Oladipo has that level of upside. I'm hardly the biggest Oladipo backer and Jameer Nelson is a lower-tier point guard, but combined with Afflalo, that backcourt is better than a "D" (Orlando didn't receive better than a "C" at any of the five graded areas).

On some level, the Magic remind me a bit of where the Wizards a before the Nene trade but without the knucklehead factor; a collection of promising young assets without the proven anchor, though Vucevic is already a force inside. If the grades are purely based on 2013-14 only, I get it. Orlando won't finish better than fourth in the Southeast Division. But seeing as their trajectory is headed higher thanks to some crafty deals and the drafting of Oladipo, "D" stands for "don't dismiss Orlando."