COMMENTARY | After an NBA-worst 20-62 finish a season ago, the Orlando Magic are in the midst of another tough year. The Magic have lost 19 of their last 23 games and are by no means in any position to go anywhere this season.
While Orlando won't be going to the playoffs this year, developing young players and putting the team in a position to succeed in the future are vital and should be the focus of the franchise this season.
Here are five reasons why the 2013-14 season for the Orlando Magic could be an even bigger failure than expected:
1. Head Coach Jacque Vaughn
Of late, head coach Jacque Vaughn's distribution of minutes has been staggering. Despite coaching a team fighting for last place and loaded with young players in need of experience and time on the floor, Vaughn has been giving guys like Glen "Big Baby" Davis far too many minutes.
Even without starting center Nikola Vucevic and starting guard Arron Afflalo of late, minutes have still been hard to come by for second-year players like Maurice Harkless, Kyle O'Quinn and Andrew Nicholson -- players who could be intricate parts of the Magic's future. Davis is fourth on the team in minutes per game and gets more than 10 minutes more than either Harkless or Nicholson.
Even guys like Jason Maxiell and Ronnie Price are getting more playing time than O'Quinn -- Orlando's second round pick from a season ago.
2. Keeping Veterans
With the trade deadline quickly approaching, the Orlando Magic should look to parts ways with veterans like Davis, Maxiell and Jameer Nelson. Neither of the three are free agents after this season and keeping them around not only adds to the salary cap, but it also hinders the development of the younger players.
3. Lingering Injuries to Vucevic, Afflalo
Early on in the season, center Nikola Vucevic looked like he could potentially make a run at an All-Star selection. Guard Arron Afflalo may have a more realistic chance as he ranks 15th in the NBA and fifth in the Eastern Conference in scoring, averaging just under 21 points per game. Vucevic has been out with a concussion while Afflalo has missed the Magic's last two games with an ankle injury.
Vucevic, who finished second in the NBA in rebounding a season ago, needs to be healthy to further his development as one of the league's best young centers. Without Vucevic, the Magic have been manhandled on the glass and have had no presence on the block whatsoever.
Afflalo, on the other hand, has been the heart and soul of the Magic and often the only player keeping them remotely competitive. Orlando will be bad with or without Afflalo but without him, it'll be tough to even watch.
At 10-28 and losers of 19 of their last 23 games, envisioning the Magic putting a serious win streak together is laughable. But in what is nothing shy of a horrible Eastern Conference, it is possible that the Magic could work their way up the worn and shaky ladder just a couple spots.
With an NBA draft that is going to likely include stars like Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins and Marcus Smart, getting a high draft pick is important. With that said, the worse the Magic are, the better off they'll be come June.
5. The Heat or Rockets Winning a Championship
While the days of the Orlando Magic competing for a championship are far beyond the horizon, the only thing that could make this season worse for one of the league's worst teams would be seeing the in-state rival Miami Heat winning a third straight title or watching former Magic center Dwight Howard win his first in Houston.
The Miami Heat are currently second in the Eastern Conference with a 27-10 record while the Rockets, at 25-14, are tied for the fourth-best record in the West. Orlando won't be celebrating much this season and fans in Central Florida should be hopeful that they don't have to watch the Heat or Howard do so either.
Mike Ferguson is a Central Florida native and an Orlando Magic contributor for Yahoo Sports.
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- Orlando Magic
- Arron Afflalo
- Jacque Vaughn
- Nikola Vucevic