It’s been a decade since the Orlando Magic were relevant, they won 59 games back to back seasons and swung a grand-slam in the 2004 NBA Draft banking on Dwight Howard’s long-term potential over Emeka Okafor who seemed like the safer prospect going into the draft. Dwight Howard was able to take the Orlando Magic to heights not even former scoring champion Tracy McGrady couldn’t but ultimately Stan Van Gundy and Dwight Howard were not on the same page and the Orlando Magic traded away Dwight Howard for Nikola Vucevic who has been able to at least keep the Magic afloat but it seems like the Magic are on a treadmill going nowhere as the 2021 NBA season approaches. I was foolish enough to think Aaron Gordon would be a late bloomer but he has not been able to make the leap to stardom despite being a former slam-dunk contest champion. The Orlando Magic hold a pick in this shallow draft which at best might have 3 all-stars and Jonathan Isaac will be out for the entire coming season.
Jonathan Isaac has the potential to be a Defensive Player of the Year assuming he comes back 100 percent from his injury but I did not see any strides in Jonathan Isaac’s game this past season. Very inconsistent offensively and I would be highly shocked if the kid ever averages over 25 points per game in his career. He has the ability to create his own shot with a wing-span equivalent to Kevin Durant’s and covers a ton of ground on drives to the basket. I believe he must look for his shot a lot more going forward, I would not bank on him ever averaging more than 4 assists per game in his career as his strengths lie on being an elite rim protector as well as being able to guard up to 4 positions on the floor. Watching Jonathan Isaac over the next decade play passing lanes off the ball will be a treat, I do believe he is a game changer since he can move so quick for a player his size and has athleticism you were either gifted with or not.
I believe the Magic need a small-forward who can score 20 to 30 points consistently on a nightly basis and Kelly Oubre Jr could fit the bill. I think the Phoenix Suns will be focused on building with Devin Booker,Mikal Bridges, and Deandre Ayton over the next 2 seasons at the very least. Makes sense why the Phoenix Suns opted to trade for Mikal Bridges in the 2018 NBA Draft now, Mikal has that on ball defense reminiscent to a Trevor Ariza and looks primed to be an All-NBA defender multiple times over this coming decade. Kelly Oubre Jr was brought back on a 2-year deal so Orlando will have to move quick to retain him but I think he is worth the gamble, the guy just averaged close to 20 points per game this past season on 15 shot attempts in Phoenix on 35 percent from the 3 point line. Aaron Gordon is still under 25 years old and has failed to live up to being the franchise player of the Orlando Magic, he’d make a good 3rd-4th option behind Booker,Ayton,and Bridges.
If the Orlando Magic stand pat I see them missing the playoffs, I haven’t touched on Markelle Fultz who I have been a fan of since his 16 point triple double as a Sixer close to 2 years ago. General Manager John Hammond spoke of taking a patient approach with Markelle Fultz and I think NBA fans have given up on him ever becoming a top 5 point guard in the NBA but I haven’t. He has pretty good size for a point-guard and is as crafty as they come and knows how to maneuver through traffic and evade opposing defenses drawing charges. He has exceptional court-vision and can actually run an offense, he won’t make the Magic any worse over the next 4-5 years so I would keep him in the starting lineup he will bloom eventually.
Mohamed Bamba was someone I remember watching in draft workouts prior to him getting drafted and I thought to myself this kid is going to rival Dikembe Mutombo some day. He has great form on his jump-shot and is a legitimate stretch 5, he won’t be able to pick up guards on switches at the top of the key like Clint Capela did in Houston and will do going forward but Bamba will limit opposing teams driving to the basket with the intention of getting to the free throw line. If I could send away Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon I would do it in a heart beat, not because they don’t help you win they just aren’t players worth re-signing when the time comes to retain them. With Bamba getting more minutes at center with Nikola being traded away at least we could look forward to seeing what he could develop into by playing more minutes, the Suns never saw Devin Booker bloom until they gave him more minutes. Not saying Mohamed Bamba will become the best center in the game if he starts at center but he certainly has the tools to become a force on both ends of the floor.
To conclude when you rebuild you build through the draft and the Orlando Magic already have 3 players who could become All-NBA players if health is on their side. If the Orlando Magic trade away Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon their chances of making the playoffs diminish but they’ll likely be in the running for a top 5 pick to go with what should be a healthy Jonathan Isaac,Mohamed Bamba,and Markelle Fultz. Those names don’t jump out at anyone at the moment but when did Giannis Antetokoumpo,Jimmy Butler,Kawhi Leonard,Steve Nash,Dirk Nowitzki,Kobe Bryant,and Stephen Curry ever jump out as us early in their careers? Certainly not me, Jonathan Isaac,Mohammed Bamba,and Markella Fultz all pack athleticism,youth,and all have infinite ceilings on defense which is needed to get stops and make runs throughout a game. If you ever read this, you’ll make a connection when the Magic are back in the Finals within the next 3-4 years.