The summer has begun to settle throughout the NBA. The Orlando Magic largely made their moves in the first day announcing the signings of Jeff Green, Bismack Biyombo and D.J. Augustin along with the re-signing of Evan Fournier.
The roster feels very much transformed as the team has two elite rim protectors now alongside returning starting center Nikola Vucevic and have turned the keys even more to the young players Rob Hennigan has drafted the last three years.
The Magic are under some significant pressure to win and win now, it would seem. After four years outside the Playoffs, the Magic clearly feel like it is time to take a major step forward and at least carve an identity that can move them closer to the postseason if not already in this April.
The roster is more or less finalized now. The Magic have 12 players under contract and could add one more with Devyn Marble’s contract getting guaranteed if he is not cut before Friday. That is more or less a complete roster.
Not all the answers are particularly clear. But some things on the roster are relatively resolved. Whether that is enough to make the playoffs is a matter of judgment.
Like we did at Orlando Magic Daily, it is time to review the depth chart as it stands now.
This is probably the most solid position for the Magic, but also the one with the most question marks.
Elfrid Payton clearly is the starting point guard. There was some reported in fighting before Scott Skiles’ sudden resignation. The Magic seem solidly behind Payton as their starting point guard. And the key to the team taking a step forward might very well be on Payton’s shoulders.
The free agent signing of D.J. Augustin and the return of veteran C.J. Watson should bolster the bench. But this is Payton’s team to run. And his growth and development is now even more important as the team tries to move forward.
The Orlando Magic clearly made a decision this offseason with their shooting guard position. Victor Oladipo was sent out and the team committed to Evan Fournier on what amounts to a team-friendly deal. The Magic feel confident and comfortable with Fournier as the shooting guard.
What Fournier provides is someone who is overall solid. He is not a flashy guard by any means. He can shoot the ball and defend his position well, but not lock down the very best in the league. Fournier is a solid option.
Behind him, the Magic have some options. Mario Hezonja will get meaningful minutes off the bench at both wing positions. Jodie Meeks also should provide some support as a sharpshooter off the bench. The Magic now have some shooting options at shooting guard, if not the same dribble penetration and creation.
The small forward position is where the mystery begins for the Magic. There is no clear fit at this position for the team.
Aaron Gordon is slated to start at the moment. There seems to be some question of whether this is the right position for him. Gordon played 40 percent of his minutes at small forward last season according to Basketball-Reference. It is hard to say just how effective he could be there.
The Magic though are relying on him and similarly tweener forward Jeff Green to fill those small forward minutes along with Mario Hezonja.
Positional versatility is a hallmark of this Magic team right now. That is something they want to pride themselves on. So the small forward position is the most fluid. The Magic could go small and run Hezonja or even Fournier at the 3. Or they could go big with Gordon there. Gordon has to play and this is where he fits best.
The Magic made a big move to acquire Serge Ibaka on draft night and he will remain the fulcrum for the team in the post. Especially on defense. With the Magic investing so much in him and still having Nikola Vucevic and now Bismack Biyombo at center, Ibaka slides in at power forward.
This position will also feature plenty of versatility. Aaron Gordon and Jeff Green will also play a lot of backup power forward. The Magic are likely to go small with their bench lineups for that reason.
Maybe the Magic look to add another more traditional power forward to clean up some of the spot minutes. But the rotation here is set with Ibaka leading the charge.
The Magic will face some big questions when it comes to the center position. It is very unclear what direction the team will go.
Certainly Orlando could use some offense and Nikola Vucevic remains the best offensive option on the team. It would seem Vucevic has to start.
But, the Magic paid a lot of money for Bismack Biyombo. And Biyombo’s rim protection and shot blocking would be valuable even with Serge Ibaka on the team. And Ibaka would be a viable option at center for smaller lineups. That does not even get into rookie Stephen Zimmerman.
The Magic have an intriguing roster for sure. It is one that has some holes and some question marks. But it feels like a deeper, more flexible and versatile team and one still loaded with talent.
The question is whether the team will commit to defense and whether it can come together on the offensive end.
The questions about the Magic remain as the team goes silent before training camp in October.