Since 2017 has been unkind to the Magic, lets look ahead to 2018 and list one resolution for key members of the team.
To be treated like a first-option and eliminate the prolonged stretches where the offense does not run through him. Per NBA.com, Gordon is averaging 19.3 field goal attempts per 48 minutes, which is fewer than players such as aging third-option Carmelo Anthony, defensive specialist Avery Bradley and Gordon’s own teammates Evan Fournier (20.5) and Jonathon Simmons (19.7). He closed 2017 out with a 39-point performance on 14-of-22 shooting, once again illustrating the type of scorer he has the potential to be when the offense flows through him. In 2018, as the Magic shoot for another top-five pick, AG should be given free reign on the offensive end.
To not play again this year. Don't care how good he thinks his ankle feels, give him the rest of the season and the offseason to recover. As one of only two players that, IMO, should be guaranteed a spot on next season's roster, Isaac must focus on the long term rather than returning during a lost season.
To play for a contender. And that won't happen in Orlando in 2018. Vooch being out with a fractured hand no doubt hurts his trade value, but now may be as good a time as ever for the Magic to deal him to a contender in need of a big who can light it up on offense but has clear shortcomings on defense. Vucevic has suffered through the Magic rebuild long enough, though his lack of rim protection has no doubt helped prolong it. Send Vooch somewhere he isn't expected to be a defensive anchor and hope to get something of value in return.
To get "Mo Buckets" hats on the shelves at Lids and other major retailers across the country.
To not look lost on the defensive end. Ending 2017 by getting carved up by Goran Dragic overshadowed the positives Payton can bring on the offense end (13 assists). As Zach Lowe of ESPN recently wrote, Payton seems to "roam around doing whatever the hell he wants" on defense. EP's future with the Magic will be decided in the coming months as he heads for restricted free agency. Baring significant improvement on the defensive end - which if it hasn't happened by now, in a contract year, will in ever? - the Magic may take a long, hard look at Trae Young in the draft if he is available to them. There has also been much debate over whether Payton's hair effects his vision while shooting. So perhaps 2018 is also the year he makes a trip to the barber to take a little off the front.
To reduce the “We miss Oladipo” talk. When the Magic traded Victor Oladipo, it was not only because they were hoping Serge Ibaka, freed from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, would develop into a legitimate franchise player. It was to free up minutes, shots and cap space for Fournier and Aaron Gordon. While Oladipo has taken a massive leap that no one really saw coming, Fournier himself was playing perhaps the best basketball of his career early this season by shooting efficiently from the floor, making the extra pass and being active on the defensive end. He cooled off, then got injured. Time for Fournier to return to early-season form, while also fully accepting playing second-fiddle to Gordon.
To continue to bring the defensive intensity he has showed since stepping in for Nikola Vucevic in the starting lineup. Biz over the last three games, during which he has swatted 10 shots and altered many others, has given Magic opponents reason to think twice about attacking the basket. He has also recorded back-to-back double-doubles and infused some much-needed energy into what can at times be a lethargic team. If only we could take the best of Biyombo's skill set and combine it with the best of Nikola Vucevic's skill set, the Magic would have the ideal center. While we're at it, let's do the same for Elfrid Payton and D.J. Augustin.
To bring swag to the Magic the way he did early in the season. That, of course, is easier to do when the team is winning as it was at the time. And, as one of the few members of the Magic that can attack the basket and get to the free throw line, to do more of that.
To make the Magic regret declining his fourth-year option. When Hezonja saw an increase in minutes and production during injuries to Gordon and Fournier, fan reaction wavered from "See, this is why we should have picked up his option!" to "One really good game inflated his numbers and he still isn't worthy of a spot in the rotation!" Relegated to the bench the past two games, Hezonja has recorded four points in 18 minutes and six points in 12 minutes, respectively. Barring a firesale or more injuries, Hezonja won't see much of an uptick in minutes. So, should he make the Magic feel regret, it probably won't be until late 2018 at the earliest, when he is wearing a different uniform. Another Super Mario resolution: to never attempt a 4-on-1 fast break between-the-legs pass again.
To have one starting lineup and stick with it. Preferably one that pushes the pace, boxes out regularly and consistently shows energy on the defensive end. Whether due to ineffectiveness (Terrence Ross being benched in favor of Jonathon Simmons) or injury (the list is too long to compile), the Magic have been forced to use 15 different starting lineups so far this season, the most variations in the league. The unit of Elfrid Payton, Evan Fournier, Jonathon Simmons, Aaron Gordon and Bismack Biyombo could be here to stay for the time being.
It will be interesting to see what the Magic starting lineup will look like at the end of 2018 after potential trades, free agency and what we hope will be a top-five draft pick.