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Vegas Win Total Projection: 33.5 (VegasInsider.com)
The Orlando Magic are certainly on the rise. They've added some depth, youth, and should be starting to increase their win totals for the next two to three years. With younger lottery pick players like Aaron Gordon, Mario Hezonja, Victor Oladipo, and Elfrid Payton, they've got a great young nucleus to build off. They resigned Tobias Harris, grabbed C.J. Watson in the free-agent market, and lost underrated big man Kyle O'Quinn. Overall your looking at a fairly deep, young, talented team. I can see them get in the playoffs, somewhere in the 6 thru 8 range. With Scott Skiles at the healm I think they'll have a good shot.
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My top pick for the upcoming season is Victor Oladipo, the man from Indiana University. He's been in the league 2 years, coming into his 3rd.His first season, he averaged 13 points per game and his second his average went up 33% to 17.8 points per game. That shows massive improvement and I expect that to improve. His assists and rebounds have been decent as a shooting guard at 4 a piece on average. But where I look to see him really take a leap is on the assists part. He now has a much improved team over last season, a team that appears to be fully bought-in, and those younger players growing like Gordon, Hezonja, and Payton. When you have a bad team like Oladipo has had in the past, its difficult to get assists, and when your team is good, people create space and it's a lot easier to get those assists. So with Oladipo, I'm looking at a stat line close to 19, 7, and 6, I think he greatly improves as well as the team and we see a very good fantasy play out of him.
The big money man, Tobias Harris, is going to be expected to do more. He may be expected to do more, but I don't realistically see him becoming all-star caliber this season. With the amount of money given to him, that's what he's now looking at, and I just don't see that happening. I actually really like Harris as a player, I like what he brings with athleticism and play, but I think there are a lot of young players and I don't see him as a number one fantasy option.
I think Aaron Gordon is poised to have a breakout year. His athleticism, size, and ability to play multiple positions, helps add to my case. He thoroughly impressed me in the Summer League and showed immense growth from last year. His outside shot was greatly improved, shooting close to 50% from the field, hitting mid-range and 3-point shots. With O'Quinn gone, the front-court needs him more than ever and I expect him to put up higher numbers with that. Last season, Gordon only averaged 5 points and 4 rebounds a game, that's not good enough. But this season, I think he can move to around 12 points and 9 rebounds with a block or two per game. He really can move up and down the court and if he can improve his outside shot, he will be a nightmare to guard. The former Arizona standout has waited his turn and is certainly ready for the challenge.
The Magic are certainly a sleeper pick in the Eastern Conference. Their depth and youth are in their favor, but they need to make sure Oladipo, Gordon, Vucevic, and others stay healthy and play well together. Scott Stiles certainly has his work cut out as far as getting this team playing well together and improve offensively. Mario Herzonja certainly helps with keeping the opposing defenses true, but they were one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA. Only 4 starters averaged over double digits per game and not one averaged over 20 points per game. In total, the Magic were in the bottom 5 teams in scoring and that needs to improve. In order for the Orlando team to have success, they are going to have to improve points per game and I fully expect with this young group that it happens. My guess is this team sneaks into the 7 or 8 seed in the Eastern Conference with about 37 wins.