Orlando Magic Season Preview

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Orlando Magic Season Preview

Josh Miller, Sports Staff

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         Things are looking up for Orlando Magic fans this semester. After making the playoffs last season for the first time in seven years, there is a new sense of optimism going into the 2020 season. 

         This year’s team features a variety of versatile players. There is also a handful of key team members, about 9 of whom are solid guys you will see on the court this season.

         This includes Nikola Vucevic, the first all-star player to be featured on the Magic since Dwight Howard played for the team in the 2011 season. 

         Leading the forward spots this season will be Florida State standout Jonathan Issac. Standing at 6’10” and weighing 230 lbs., Isaac is a well-rounded player who can play inside and outside of the paint. At the other forward spot is Aaron Gordon, who averaged 16 points and 7.4 rebounds and shot 45 percent from the field.

         Backing the two up from the bench will be the experienced Al-Farouq Aminu, who played deep in the playoffs last year with the Portland Trail Blazers, losing to the Golden State Warriors in the western conference finals. 

         7-year magic vet Nikola Vucevic will be holding down the center position in his first all-star campaign. Vucevic averaged 20 points and 12.8 rebounds a game in 2018. After Vucevic’s impressive all star year, expectations are that he will continue to perform this season and emerge as one of the top centers in the NBA. 

         Backing up Vucevic will be the 6th overall pick in the 2018 draft, Mo Bamba. 

         Bamba, standing at 7 feet tall, only played in about half of the games last season due to a stress fracture in his left tibia. In a one-on-one interview, Bamba stated “My body feels good, trained and conditioned hard in the offseason to get back to 100 percent and ready for this season.” Bamba also shows promise from behind the arc, hitting 3 of his five 3-point attempts in the Magic’s last preseason game against the Miami Heat. 

         Bamba talked about his 3-point shooting ability, saying, “It adds a ton. It’s a difference maker between being able to space the floor and getting my teammates better looks.” Look for him to breakout and come into his own in this, his second year in the NBA. 

         Taking the ball up the court as point guard position will be 11-year veteran DJ Augustin, who averaged 11.2 points and 5.3 assists last season. At the other guard spot, you’ll find Evan Fournier, who averaged a little over 15 points last season and can also use his big, 6’7” frame to play in the paint. 

         Look to see Michael Carter-Williams as the next guard up. Carter-Williams has been on 8 different teams in the last 6 years and is looking to make a name for himself in Orlando. 

         Next up, and perhaps the biggest question mark for the Magic this year, will be former 1st overall pick from the 2018 draft Markelle Fultz. Playing a total of just 33 games over the last two years because of a nerve disorder, Fultz is looking to have his breakout year here in Orlando. 

         Markelle talked about his health and a little bit about the season with me, “I’m doing great I feel really good, been working extremely hard this summer and rehabbing for the season…. Only goal is just to get on the court and get better each day.” 

         In a pregame conference, Magic head coach Steve Clifford emphasized Fultz’s attitude and love for the game: “Whatever you work on with him, he immediately applies it.”

         Look for Fultz to stay healthy and show his talents to the city of Orlando and the rest of the NBA. Be prepared to see Fultz and Augustin be a very possible guard combo in the season as the two on the court together could potentially be the best guard combo for the Magic.

         The Magic finished their preseason 3-3, closing it out with 3 tough losses at home. The Magic posted wins against the San Antonio Spurs, Detroit Pistons, and Cleveland Cavaliers before dropping three in a row to the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, and Miami Heat.

         In their matchups against the Celtics and the Heat, the biggest struggle seemed to be turnovers for the team which lead to fast break points.

         After the tough loss against the Miami Heat, Mo Bamba said the approach leading up to the regular season is simple, “Attack where we didn’t do well, address it all in practice and get better.”

         Bamba described himself and his teammates as “super excited” as they approach the regular season.

         The team has been working hard to continue and build off of last season’s success. The team is closer as a whole, as the majority of the team has played together for a few seasons. Fultz talked about the comradery and team chemistry, “It’s just getting better and better. We see the potential we can have.”

         Orlando is coming together around this team and will be with the Magic every step of the way. All that’s left is for the team to produce and start the season off hot to continue the momentum throughout the season, and hopefully lead to a deep playoff run.

         The Magic begin the regular season at home against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, October 23rd.