A four-game winning streak against lesser competition. A three-game losing streak against tougher competition. And the return of an All-Star.
The Magic have fluctuated in power rankings, and the return of Nikola Vucevic should help stabilize that. But in order to climb any higher than middle of the pack, they’ll have to start defeating some winning teams. As NBA.com highlights below, the Magic have gone 1-11 against teams over .500 this season, with their lone victory coming against the Joel Embiid-less Sixers.
The Magic have a chance to change that during their road trip against playoff contenders this week.
Click on each publication for the full ranking...
ESPN - Magic at 17
The Magic were tested this week with three games against elite competition, and they struggled in losing by a combined 41 points to the Rockets, Lakers and Bucks -- before bouncing back with a win over the lowly Pelicans. The Magic got excellent news with the return of Nikola Vucevic from an ankle injury on Sunday; their lone All-Star is the key to Orlando remaining in playoff contention this season. -- Andre Snellings
CBS Sports - Magic at 15
The Magic were victims of a rough schedule this week with losses to the Bucks, Lakers and Rockets. They did, however, take care of business against the Pelicans on Sunday. The big news is that Nikola Vucevic returned to the lineup in the win over New Orleans, putting up 20 points and nine rebounds in 29 minutes. -- Colin Ward-Henninger
NBA.com - Magic at 17
The Magic entered a tough stretch of schedule (10 of 15 against teams with winning records) last week, and things went just as you would have expected. They couldn’t hang with the Bucks, Lakers or Rockets, scoring less than a point per possession against the two top-three defenses and then getting torched by James Harden. They’re 1-11 against the 13 teams currently over .500, with the one win having come against the Sixers without Joel Embiid. But they got Nikola Vucevic back from an 11-game absence on Sunday and began a four-game trip by taking care of business (with eight of their nine rotation players scoring in double-figures) against the Pelicans. Their starting lineup with Vucevic has been 17.5 points per 100 possessions better than the version with Khem Birch in his place, and the All-Star came back just in time for a week in which the Magic will run into two All-NBA centers. -- John Schuhmann
Sports Illustrated - Magic at 14
Aaron Gordon’s reasonable contract will keep him as a commodity on the trade market, but his current play isn’t doing Orlando any favors. Gordon is shooting a paltry 43.5% from the field this season while dipping to just 14 points per game. The Magic’s potential return for Gordon dwindles as he struggles through the start if 2019-20. -- Michael Shapiro
Bleacher Report - Magic at 15
Most teams are going to struggle with a three-game set that includes the Bucks, Lakers and Rockets, so we’re not going to bury the Magic for going 0-3 against that gauntlet. Plus, Nikola Vucevic finally got back on the floor after missing nearly a month with a sprained ankle, scoring 20 points and hauling in nine rebounds in Sunday’s 130-119 win over the crumbling Pelicans. Markelle Fultz tied his season high with nine assists against Milwaukee on Monday and produced a highlight in transition when he shed Jrue Holiday with a behind-the-back dribble and elevated for a dunk as JJ Redick made a business decision and ducked out of the way. Orlando’s 130 points Sunday were a season high, but the Pels tend to make most offenses look good. The Magic, 12-14, still need to get their offense out of the league’s bottom six before they’ll scare any top-quality opponents. -- Grant Hughes
The Athletic - Magic at 18
The Magic looked pretty good against a soft spot in their schedule when they rattled off four straight. But this past week hit them with games against Milwaukee, the Lakers, and Houston. All of that without their All-Star big man and it’s understandable the Magic lost three straight games this week. The good news is Nikola Vucevic is back and the Magic get a chance to correct this slide. As much as Orlando has struggled this season, it’s +5.0 per 100 possessions with Vuc on the floor and -4.9 per 100 with him on the bench. His presence should boost them. -- Zach Harper