What a difference a week makes.
In last week’s assortment of power rankings, there was talk of panic as the offensively inept Magic slipped as far as 24 in some rankings. But after completing a 4-1 homestand, finding their offensive rhythm (albeit against some weak defenses), and some encouraging performances by Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier and Markelle Fultz, the Magic have calmed the rankers. The Magic are on the rise. Hopefully the upcoming four-game road trip doesn’t change that.
Click on each publication for the full ranking...
ESPN - Magic at 18
The Magic have bounced back from their slow start, winning four of five after losing four straight. One big change that they’ve made is leaning more on Evan Fournier as a lead guard. He averaged 21.0 points and 5.4 assists per game during the 4-1 stretch, after accounting for only 10.8 and 2.0, respectively, during the losing streak. Per Second Spectrum data, heading into Sunday, Fournier had produced 1.002 points per chance as the ball handler in pick situations, significantly up from point guards Markelle Fultz (0.779 points/chance) and D.J. Augustin (0.773 points/chance). -- Andre Snellings
NBA.com - Magic at 15
The Magic went 4-1 and scored 114.7 points per 100 possessions on what will be their longest homestand of the season. It helped that three of the five opponents had bottom-10 defenses and that the shots are starting to fall (Evan Fournier and Nicola Vucevic were a combined 28-for-48 from 3-point range over the homestand), but their starting lineup change -- Markelle Fultz for D.J. Augustin -- appears to have worked, and they kept things going with Al-Farouq Aminu (who was out of the rotation on Wednesday) starting in place of the injured Jonathan Isaac over the weekend. With the other three starters -- Fournier, Vucevic and Aaron Gordon -- on the floor, the Magic have scored more than 110 points per 100 possessions with Fultz at the point, and the former No. 1 pick had the best game of his career on Sunday, scoring 19 points (on 8-for-10 shooting), draining two 3-pointers, and sealing the win with a steal and fast break in the final minute. A four game trip begins in Toronto on Wednesday and with two games against top-10 defenses. -- John Schuhmann
Bleacher Report - Magic at 14
Markelle Fultz continues to start, but the Magic’s offense remains ineffective. That’s largely why D.J. Augustin played the final 17 minutes of Wednesday’s 112-97 win over the Sixers. With Augustin at the helm, Orlando outscored the Sixers (who were playing without Joel Embiid) 32-15 in the final frame.
Jonathan Isaac’s sprained ankle is a concern, but Al-Farouq Aminu rendered it moot on Friday, starting and putting up 13 points and 13 boards just two days after head coach Steve Clifford told him he was out of the rotation.
The Magic have quietly shaken off a horrendous start on offense that saw them fail to break the century mark in their first seven games. They’ve gotten over 100 in each of their last six contests and have won four of their last five games overall. -- Grant Hughes
CBS Sports - Magic at 14
A 3-0 week came at the best possible time for the Magic, who had gotten off to a horrible start. They’re finally putting some points on the board, a great sign for a team with one of the league’s worst offensive ratings. Nikola Vucevic has been steady, and Evan Fournier caught fire this week, hitting nearly 60 percent of his 3-pointers over the three-game streak. Markelle Fultz scored a career-high 19 points in Sunday’s win over the Wizards, including an emphatic steal and and-one dunk to seal the game late. -- Colin Ward-Henninger
Yahoo - Magic at 15
Markelle Fultz has provided a much-needed spark for the Magic this month. Orlando has won four of their last five games, with their most recent victory coming Sunday vs. Washington. Fultz scored a career-high 19 points vs. the Wizards, making 8-of-10 shots with two 3-pointers, three rebounds, two assists and one steal in 26 minutes. His steal and dunk in the final minutes sealed the deal for the Magic. -- Tommy Beer
Sports Illustrated - Magic at 18
Orlando made a prudent move signing Nikola Vucevic to a four-year deal this summer, and his $22 million salary in 2022-23 could look like a bargain. But the 29-year-old will need to re-establish his jumper to be a true fulcrum for Steve Clifford after a shaky start to the season. Perhaps Sunday’s 30-point, 17-rebound effort in a win over Washington will return Vucevic to his 2018-19 form. -- Michael Shapiro
UPROXX - Magic at 16
The Magic just completed a five-game homestand with a 4-1 record and, well, they needed it. Filing Orlando’s positive run under “taking care of business” is the right approach given their slate of opponents, but every win counts. -- Brad Rowland
The Athletic - Magic at 17
In the first eight games, Orlando posted a league-worst 96.6 offensive rating and a league-worst true shooting of 49.3 percent. They were the only team during this stretch of games that had a sub-100.0 offensive rating or a sub-50 percent true shooting. Over the last five games, their offensive rating is 114.7 (fourth best) and their true shooting is up to 57.0 percent (10th best). During these five games, Vucevic has averaged 21.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 4.2 assists with a 60.8 percent true shooting. The Magic look a lot more like the team that finished last season, even if we want to skew the schedule into a softer spot than the names might look at first glance. Good to have them back. -- Zach Harper