Over the next month, Blazer's Edge will be rolling out season previews for all 30 NBA teams. Continuing this feature, we discuss the Orlando Magic with Philip Rossman-Reich of Orlando Magic Daily.
Orlando Magic 2014-15 Season Preview
2013-14 Record: 23-59, No. 5 in Southeast Division, No. 13 in Eastern Conference
Roster additions: Kadeem Batts (rookie, undrafted), Drew Crawford (rookie, undrafted), Seth Curry, Channing Frye, Aaron Gordon (rookie, No. 4), Ben Gordon, Willie Green, Roy Devyn Marble (rookie, No. 56), Elfrid Payton (rookie, No. 10), Luke Ridnour, Peyton Siva
Roster subtractions: Arron Afflalo, Doron Lamb, Jason Maxiell, E'Twaun Moore, Jameer Nelson, Ronnie Price
SB Nation affiliate: Orlando Pinstriped Post
Blazer's Edge: Will the Magic taking Elfrid Payton at No. 10 cut down on Victor Oladipo's minutes at point guard? How do you expect them to coexist in orlando's backcourt together?
Philip Rossman-Reich: Ultimately Elfrid Payton is going to be this team's point guard of the future. There is no getting around that. The Magic gave up some major assets to move up two spots for Payton -- pretty much two first round picks. It is inevitable for Payton to start at point guard. I do not think it happens immediately however.
I think Victor Oladipo gets another quarter or half season as point guard before shifting over to shooting guard more permanently. Those skills cannot be bad for him to have in his development. The starting backcourt for the Magic at the end of the season is going to be Payton and Oladipo if things go according to plan.
It is a pretty dynamic backcourt with two guys who can aggressively attack the basket. One of them -- preferably both -- will have to develop a jumper to unlock their full potential. But this is an interesting duo of guards especially in the Eastern Conference.
BE: Channing Frye is a fan-favorite in Portland...what does he bring to the Magic and how will he fit in?
PR-R: Frye looks to be a big part of the Magic. This team lacks shooters and Frye is the best shooter on the team by far. He is going to be relied upon to space the floor and give Oladipo and Payton those lanes to drive to the basket. Frye is going to be relied upon to ease a lot of pressure on the offense this year. His salary certainly suggests he will be a major player for this team this year.
Orlando has always said it wants a mix of veterans and young players during this rebuild. With Arron Afflalo and Jameer Nelson both gone, the Magic needed that presence and they put their money where their mouth was by investing a hefty amount in Frye. Judging by Media Day, he should help lighten things up in the locker room as well. He is going to hold everyone to a high standard and should be a welcome addition.
BE: How much faith do you have in coach Jacque Vaughn? Do Magic fans generally buy into the job he's done so far?
PR-R: Jacque Vaughn is probably the most controversial thing about the team's rebuilding efforts so far. Magic fans are pretty divided on the job he has done. It is hard to argue with that since he has amassed only 43 wins in two seasons. Fans want results now in Year Three and are kind of tired of the puzzling rotation decisions and . . . I dare not speak that word the starts with 't' and rhymes with cranking.
I give Vaughn a little more credit than that. Vaughn was tasked more with developing players and making sure players stayed positive and did not succumb to the losing. In the last two years, I believe he largely did that. The young players got better. They were allowed to make mistakes and play to improve. Everyone with Andrew Nicholson as a glaring exception did this.
Now, does that lead to wins? That is what this year is supposed to prove.
BE: What has to happen for Orlando to improve on it's 23-win campaign last year?
PR-R: To make the improvements, the Magic have to have individual players get better. Victor Oladipo has to become a better playmaker and scorer with Nelson and Afflalo on to greener pastures. Nikola Vucevic has to take advantage of the extra touches and become a better post player. Kyle O'Quinn has to be about more than energy and be a boost off the bench. Maurice Harkless has to improve his 3-point shooting. Tobias Harris has to become a solid defender.
Internal improvement from the young players is the key to any improvement in wins. The Magic have turned the keys over to these young players and they want to know exactly what they have in them.
BE: With so many young players on the roster, do you expect any breakout players to emerge this season -- maybe someone who'd be unexpected for the average NBA fan?
PR-R: I think Maurice Harkless is due for a breakout year. His rookie year was marred by a sports hernia early on in the year and the fact that he was not completely ready at 18 years old to be in the NBA. Last year, Harkless began putting some things together, but he was still in need of some refining. He got better as the year went on as shown by his 40 percent 3-point shooting after the All-Star Break.
Harkless has some athleticism and his shot is continuing to get better. He is going to get minutes as his defense is invaluable and his ability to fit into the background of an offense and work off the ball is invaluable on a team full of guys that can create their own shot to some extent.
Special thanks to Philip Rossman-Reich of Orlando Magic Daily for taking the time to discuss the Orlando Magic's upcoming season with Blazer's Edge. Philip Rossman-Reich can be found on twitter @OMagicDaily. Orlando Magic Daily has you covered for Magic news and analysis.
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