The Orlando Magic have languished in the bottom five of SB Nation's NBA power rankings for three straight weeks, but that indignity ended Monday: buoyed by a three-game winning streak--their first such run of success in more than a year--the Magic inched out of the bottom five, coming in at 25.
Power rankings author Drew Garrison pats the Magic on the back, but does question the wisdom of a rebuilding team's racking up late-season victories. "While the wins certainly help morale and give interim coach James Borrego a few wins under his belt," says Garrison, "what Orlando is really accomplishing is giving those top-four draft lottery teams a cushion."
At 19-39, the Magic own the league's fifth-worst record. The next-worst team, the Los Angeles Lakers, holds a 4.5-game "lead" on Orlando in the NBA Draft Lottery order. The Minnesota Timberwolves, Philadelphia 76ers, and New York Knicks stand "ahead" of L.A.
Orlando has a fairly easy remaining schedule, with only 10 road games left against 14 at home. And in a 10-game span from March 20th through April 11th, the Magic will play eight at home. In short, the Magic could rise more than they fall in the weeks ahead. Whether that's in their best long-term interests remains up for debate.