Standing at 20-59, the Orlando Magic are just one game ahead of the Charlotte Bobcats in the loss column for the NBA's worst record. They've lost 46 of their last 54 games and rank among the league's worst teams in offense and in defense. And yet Rob Mahoney of The Point Forward, Sports Illustrated's NBA blog, lists Orlando as one of the league's biggest surprises, alongside other "teams and players who exceeded expectations in 2012-13."
Mahoney points toward the performances of Nik Vučević, Maurice Harkless, and Arron Afflalo, all of whom the Magic acquired in the Dwight Howard trade, as positives as Orlando rebuilds in the post-Howard era. Tobias Harris, added at the trade deadline in exchange for J.J. Redick, "provides the potential for production and lineup flexibility."
The Magic, and their promising newcomers, still have room to grow; as Mahoney points out, the team still doesn't have a cornerstone player. Nonetheless, new general manager Rob Henningan's moves so far "suggest a stable, cogent process — the hallmark of great management and the foundation of a quality NBA franchise," Mahoney says.