Photo by Fernando Medina/Orlando Magic
Few teams come to Summer League with more than one or two rotation players. Fewer still come with multiple players that are expected to be focal points for the team in the upcoming season. Few teams are the Orlando Magic.
What we’ve seen from the Magic so far this week is likely two-fifths of Orlando’s starting lineup for the 2013-14 season (it would have been three-fifths if Tobias Harris didn’t bang his knee during practice last week).
There are two ways to look at this situation.
First, Orlando is doomed. A roster of mostly rookies and sophomores can’t possibly compete for a playoff spot — not that they were supposed to in the first place — even in the weaker Eastern Conference. It’ll be another year of shameless tanking for the franchise in hopes of landing Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Dante Exum, or any of the other supposed stars in next year’s draft.
The second, however, is much more uplifting. It still carries the truths of the first point of view (though, without the “shameless” part), but it also adds the following caveat: the Magic, just a year removed from the Dwight Howard trade, have accelerated the rebuilding process to the point where they have as few as five and as many as seven foundational pieces.
Their frontcourt rotation alone, comprised of Harris, Nikola Vucevic, Andrew Nicholson, Kyle O’Quinn and now Romero Osby is enough to make other teams envious, if not downright jealous.
It gives Jacque Vaughn a myriad of flexibility when it comes to lineups: he can go small with Harris and Nicholson, big with Nicholson and Vucevic while moving Harris to the three and Maurice Harkless to the two, enormous with O’Quinn and Vucevic, a mixture of small and big with Harris and Vucevic, and so forth.
Meanwhile, in the backcourt and on the wing, Orlando features two players that, like Tony Allen and Andre Iguodala, make individual defense legitimately exciting to watch.