Tanking can be a strange and somewhat controversial subject. For Magic fans, a lot have embraced the idea of tanking. Most Magic fans either think that the team should tank, or believe that this team is one of the worst in the league and a team that isn't good enough to go anywhere next season. I am here to give you all a different perspective and explain why I think the Magic shouldn't tank. I am not a fan of the Magic, but I followed the team closely last season, especially near the end of it.
There are great players on this team. The whole league should come to terms with that. The Magic have had their fair share of luck in trades and even through the draft. They Acquired Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris. Two guys that exceeded all expectations. They were able to draft a very good player in Moe Harkless (of course drafted by 76ers, and soon after traded to the Magic) and they most recently drafted Victor Oladipo. That's four players right there that I can confidently say are part of the big picture with this Magic team. That may not sound like very much, but that is great for a team that is considered one of the worst in the league. Let's look at some April stats from last season (last 8 games).
Tobias Harris: 19.8 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.4 BPG, 0.8 SPG
Nikola Vucevic: 18.5 PPG, 15.3 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.5 BPG, 1.5 SPG
Moe Harkless: 13.1 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.1 BPG, 1.1 SPG
Of course, these guys logged some heavy minutes at this time (Harris 40 MPG, Harkless 37 MPG, Vucevic 36 MPG) and had minor shooting deficiencies. The only one of the three that will get the same amount of minutes next year as they did in April is Vucevic. 36 minutes per game is fairly realistic for him, and he was still able to average above 50% from the field in April. Let's remember one thing, these guys are young, practically kids. Harkless is 20, Harris is 21 and Vucevic is 22. They are going to get better, more efficient and will learn to play in a team concept.
Jacque Vaughn is a great coach. Back in his Kansas days, he was one of the smartest players you could watch. Vaughn has played and coached as an assistant under Gregg Popovich. Bottom line is that he knows what he is doing, and obviously gets the best out of his players. It isn't entirely by chance that Vucevic and Harris put up borderline All-Star numbers in April. Vaughn gets the complete best out of his players. He isn't here to mess around, he's here to take the Magic places.
We have all heard about the greatness of the 2014 draft class. The Magic just can't afford to miss out on a top 3 pick to get Wiggins, Parker or Randle right? Wrong. The strength of next year's draft is everywhere. There will be quality players falling in the late lottery/middle of the first round. I'm talking Wayne Selden, Aaron Gordon, Donte Exum, Gary Harris and much more. The Magic don't need to tank to have a chance at landing a great player. There is also a pretty impressive group of free agents in the 2014 offseason. If you're a free agent, would you rather join a team that has a ton of youth but had a depressing season and was one of the worst teams in the league, or would you want to join a team with a ton of youth and competed for a playoff spot while showing a lot of promise?
But are the Magic able to compete for a playoff spot? Even if they fall short, it would be a huge step in the right direction. This would put them in the dreaded middle of the pack in the NBA, but maybe not so dreaded if you're the Orlando Magic. Not too long ago the Thunder missed the playoffs, the next season they managed to get the 8 seed, next year the 4 seed and most recently they earned the top spot in the West. The Magic could make similar progression. Maybe they won't make the playoffs this season, but being in the middle of the pack isn't a bad thing if you are as young as the Magic. Also, this team isn't going from one of the worst teams to a championship contender in one season. They have to be in the middle at some point. If this group can be at least near the playoffs, add one of the top free agents, draft a good player and assuming they improve and Victor Oladipo isn't a bust, they will really be able to get back on its feet as a dangerous team in the playoffs.
Maybe the Magic aren't that great and would finish in the bottom of the league whether they are tanking or not. Well if that's how it is that's how it is. We should be able to determine if they are good enough to compete early on. If they are, they should just go for it, it would be better off than tanking.