Over the past few seasons Orlando Magic fans have been spoiled into thinking they've had a team capable of making a run at a NBA title, after all any team boasting the likes of Dwight Howard could aspire to no less. But now that Howard has all but punched his ticket out of O-town, it looks like the franchise is about to enter a rebuilding phase, and one that will leave fans on the outside looking in when it comes time for the post season. Here then are five reasons, (besides the departure of Dwight Howard) why Orlando will miss the playoffs this coming season.
That they are about to lose Dwight Howard this season is bad enough, but given the right trade, Orlando could still have come up with enough fire power to make the playoffs. However, power forward Ryan Anderson would have had to play a large role in order to make that happen. Instead Orlando jettison one of their best players in a sign and trade with the Hornets. Why? Mostly because the team was not willing to pay the $34-$36 million over 4 years that Anderson would have commanded. So what did Orlando get in return for a player who last season averaged over 16 points and 7 rebounds per game? Well, they get the likes of 6-10 center Gustavo Ayon, a 27 year old refugee from the top Spanish pro league, who averaged a mere 5.9 points and 4.9 rebounds in the NBA last season. Those types of numbers will not make Magic fans forget the likes of Anderson and Howard.
There is no denying that recent draftees Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O'Quinn have turned a few heads this year in Orlando's Summer League. Nicholson for one is sure to pick up quite a few minutes of play time this season. However, he is undersized as a power forward, and without Howard in the middle to take pressure away from him the rookie's effectiveness will be cut down. As for O'Quinn, there is a reason he was taken just 49th overall. At best Kyle is a few seasons away from making a meaningful contribution to the team.
The re-signing of Nelson this year is definitely a move that does not have the backing of all Magic fans, after all Orlando's starting point guard got off to a slow start last season and his effectiveness as the team's quarterback can only take a nose dive after Howard is traded. So look for Jameer Nelson to all but disappear this season as a focal point in Orlando's attack and for fans to start chanting "overrated" at some point this season.
Let's face facts; Orlando got rid of head coach Stan Van Gundy and GM Otis Smith mostly to make Dwight Howard happy. Now that Howard is all but assured of leaving by trade, the move seems a major mistake since it does away with any type of continuity from last season. How will Orlando respond to a new GM and a new coach? Only time will tell, but one thing is for certain, new management means Orlando is headed for a rebuilding year.
With Howard and Anderson out of the picture, Orlando will have to come up with a new offense, one that can no longer rely on the NBA's most prolific 3-point shooter (Anderson) or the league's best rebounder (Howard). What does that leave? It leaves Orlando with a bunch of outside shooters that can't create their own shot. So before Orlando can even think about the playoffs, they need to be thinking of retooling its offense.
About this writer: A resident of Orlando, FL, the writer has been a fan of the Orlando Magic since their inaugural season in the NBA. The writer lists Scott Skiles and Hedo Turkoglu among his all-time favorite Magic players.