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One week into the 2013-2014 season, the Orlando Magic are 2-2. They’ve won two consecutive games against playoff contenders by more than 20 points, lost in overtime at Minnesota, and put a legitimate scare into the undefeated Indiana Pacers on the road in the season opener. The Magic currently rank in the top 10 in offensive efficiency, defensive efficiency, total rebound percentage, and True Shooting percentage.
This start, basically, seems like no fluke — Orlando has been very good. And while this sample size is so small as to render any takeaways close to meaningless, the eye test confirms what advanced metrics suggest. In a vacuum, without crucial context, the Magic would be considered a surefire postseason threat after these first four games.
The scary thing is that Orlando could be even better.
Tanking, rebuilding, constructing — call the big-picture goal of 2013-14 whatever you like, but winning games is just a small portion of it. This season, first and foremost, is meant to develop young talent and build Orlando’s stable of assets ahead of next summer’s loaded draft. But Rob Hennigan’s patient primary objectives differ from those of his coaches and players. There’s only so much big-picture perspective he can implement on game night from a press box above the floor.
Jacque Vaughn appears compliant with front office directives. No coaching staff — no matter how seemingly doomed its team prospects are for a current season — would ever employ on-court strategy that encourages failure, and Vaughn is no different. He has the Magic’s intricate half-court offense firing on all cylinders, and his players rarely deviate from the team’s strong principle values on defense. To that end, Vaughn’s done nothing to discourage those who saw his first season as a head coach promising. In fact, it’s actually quite the opposite.
When looking at things from a rotation standpoint? Hennigan might as well be calling the shots.