The Orlando Magic finished with the league's worst record in 2012/13, losing 62 games as they recovered from trading All-Star center Dwight Howard and losing key rotation players Glen Davis, Arron Afflalo, and Jameer Nelson to season-ending injuries.
Despite taking a step back in the standings, Orlando took a step forward in ESPN's Future Power Rankings, a semi-regular feature at ESPN Insider which ranks the potential of each of the league's 30 teams based on their rosters, management, salary-cap situations, markets, and future Draft picks.
The latest Future Power Rankings, released Thursday, rank the Magic 22nd in the league, just ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves and just behind the Brooklyn Nets. Orlando moved up four spots from the last edition of the feature, which had it at 26th.
"[T]he Magic have begun their move back upward thanks to shrewd pickups by first-year GM Rob Hennigan," Kevin Pelton says. "The package Orlando received for Dwight Howard exceeded expectations, with Nikola Vucevic solidifying the center position and Maurice Harkless starting 59 games at age 19." Pelton also points toward the acquisition of Tobias Harris at the trading deadline as another reason for optimism, as the trio of Harris, Harkless, and Vucevic "could start together up front for the Magic for the next decade."
The top five teams in this edition of the Future Power Rankings are, in order, the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, and Golden State Warriors. The bottom five teams are the Toronto Raptors, Milwaukee Bucks, Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns, and Charlotte Bobcats.