As August winds to a close, ESPN's panel of experts has begun tackling key questions of the forthcoming NBA seasons, and it forecasts "turmoil" for the Orlando Magic. The Worldwide Leader surveyed more than 100 writers on topics including projected standings and best and worst newcomers, and the experts believe only the New York Knicks will have a more tumultuous season than Orlando. The Knicks, who lost restricted free-agent point guard Jeremy Lin to the Houston Rockets, earned 41 votes in Team Turmoil balloting, while the Magic picked up 15 votes and the Sacramento Kings tallied 10.
Orlando famously traded superstar Dwight Howard, the league's consensus top center and arguably the best player in franchise history, to the Los Angeles Lakers and now faces a long rebuilding process. Its top player is probably either Arron Afflalo or Jameer Nelson, and it hired first-time head coach Jacque Vaughn to replace the departed Stan Van Gundy.
Is the "Team Turmoil" designation for Orlando fair? It depends on how one classifies the word "turmoil." The Magic will surely struggle in the season ahead as its rebuilding process begins, given their lack of talent defensively and in the paint.
Yet struggling on the floor does not necessarily indicate tumult. The likes of Nelson, Afflalo, and Glen Davis should provide strong leadership for the club, which has placed the Howard drama squarely in its rearview mirror and can now turn its focus to winning games and developing young talent.
Orlando went 37-29 in the lockout-shortened 2011/12 campaign and, with Howard sidelined due to a back injury, lost to the Indiana Pacers, 4-1, in the first round of the playoffs.