The news out of Indiana wasn’t great for the Orlando Magic on Thursday.
One night removed from losing to the Toronto Raptors, a pair of MRI’s revealed the extent of injuries that sent starters Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic into the locker room early. Both Gordon and Vucevic injured their right ankles, just minutes apart from each other, in the second quarter. Both went straight to the locker room, with Vucevic unable to put any weight on the ankle.
Gordon’s return will likely come sooner than Vucevic.
Per a team release on Thursday evening, the results of the MRI showed Gordon suffered a right ankle contusion, and his return to action will be predicated on how he reacts to treatment.
Vucevic wasn’t as lucky. The former All-Star center will be re-evaluated in 7-to-10 days after suffering a right lateral ankle sprain.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Vucevic will miss a minimum of four weeks due to the injury.
Any extended absence for either Gordon or Vucevic will test the Magic’s depth, and cause them to have to find a new way to play on the offensive end. Both Gordon and Vucevic are key parts to the Magic offense, with many of their sets running through Vucevic in the high post.
Khem Birch, who saw his first extended action of the season after Vucevic exited on Wednesday night, will likely see a large uptick in minutes, and will likely be tabbed as the starter in place of Vucevic. Mo Bamba, who has struggled on both ends of the floor early on this season, will also see a slight uptick in minutes, and will need to make the most of those minutes if he wants to hang in the rotation once Vucevic returns.
In Gordon’s absence, the likes of Al-Farouq Aminu and Wesley Iwundu will likely see the biggest impact minutes wise. Jonathan Isaac, who has flashed brilliance on both ends early this season, will also likely take a larger role in the offense, and be challenged more on defense.
Should Gordon only miss a short amount of time, the injury to Vucevic could also open things up for the Magic to experiment with a lineup featuring Isaac as the center. He’s played a fee shorts bursts there this season, and could open things up for the Magic to try something else once Gordon is healthy.
Both of these injuries are big blows to the Magic, but are happening early enough in the season they would be able to overcome any potential blow to their record.
This is going to be a test of the Magic’s depth, and mental toughness, but is a hurdle that they need to face, and could end up helping them as the season wears on.