2017-2018 Orlando Magic Preview: Running It Back With Youth

09.13.17 5 months ago

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2016-17 Record: 29-53 (13th in East)

Players Added: Arron Afflalo (FA), Khem Birch (FA), Jonathan Isaac (Draft), Wesley Iwundu (Draft), Kalin Lucas (FA), Shelvin Mack (FA), Adreian Payne (FA), Jonathan Simmons (FA), Marreese Speights (FA)
Players Lost: Patricio Garino (FA), Marcus Georges-Hunt (FA), Jeff Green (FA), Jodie Meeks (FA), Damjan Rudez (FA), C.J. Watson (FA), Stephen Zimmerman (FA)

Projected Team MVP: Aaron Gordon

There are a handful of teams in the NBA that do not have an obvious “best player,” and the Magic are one of them. In fact, Aaron Gordon was unequivocally not the best player for Orlando a season ago, making this something of a bold proclamation. Still, there is no question as to who the most talented player (sans potentially rookie Jonathan Isaac) on this roster and, entering his age-22 season, Gordon appears to finally be occupying his natural position of power forward.

In 80 games (72 starts) a season ago, Gordon averaged 12.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game in 28.7 minutes and there were flashes of his considerable potential. Defensively, he has the size and athleticism to credibly defend the biggest and best at the small forward position while not giving away too much against the more traditional, bulky players. With that said, Gordon was often asked to chase around smaller wings by virtue of Orlando’s (insane) plan to play big and, hopefully, that will evaporate in 2017-2018.

There are still real questions about his offensive game and his jump shot is a work in progress at this point. Still, Gordon will be given every opportunity to shine in what amounts to a contract year and he edges out Evan Fournier (and others) as the player that will be the most valuable for the Magic this season.

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