Another season has come and gone Magic fans. The 2018-19 version of your Orlando Magic provided the city and its fan base with many memorable moments to ring in the 30th anniversary of the franchise’s existence.
We were provided opportunities to celebrate big Magic road victories in Boston (twice), San Antonio, Los Angeles, Mexico City (against the Jazz and Bulls), Toronto, Milwaukee, Indiana, Charlotte, and Miami (twice). And don’t forget about those huge home wins against the Heat(opening night), 76ers (twice), Lakers, Raptors, Celtics, Rockets, Pacers, Nets, and the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
But none of that compares to the emotions all Magic fans felt after coming to the realization that the team they’ve supported through so many tough losing seasons had finally clinched their first playoff birth since the conclusion of the Dwight Howard era.
My progress reports were back for another season on Orlando Pinstriped Post in 2018-19 (third season featured on this site, I’m blessed). If you missed the first volume, Nikola Vucevic earned the highest grade in the class after the team’s first fourteen games due to his stellar shooting and solid defense. Vucevic again earned the highest grade in my second volume (which covered the team’s next fourteen games). And prior to his first career All-Star selection, Vucevic earned the team’s highest midterm grade.
Let’s explore who on the roster pulled their own weight this season. As a teacher who is used to assessing on a regular basis, “grading” is right up my alley!
Included in this series of final grade reports are statistics from Orlando’s 82 regular season games played this season, along with some comments from yours truly that hopefully explain why I graded the guys the way that I did.
In the comments section below, please feel free to agree or disagree with any of my assessments, or simply just let me know if this is something that interests you. Credit for statistics goes to Basketball Reference and NBA.com. Enjoy!
D.J. Augustin, 31 years-old (81 games played)
After a very lackluster first season with the Magic, veteran point guard D.J. Augustin has enjoyed incredibly efficient offensive seasons in back-to-back years here in Orlando.
He played well down the stretch in ‘17-’18, starting for the Magic after the organization dealt away former lottery pick Elfrid Payton to the Phoenix Suns at the trade deadline. Augustin entered this past season as the de facto lead guard due to the organization’s lack of movement acquiring a “proven” starting point guard, much to the dismay of many Magic fans.
But as it played out, Augustin was everything the Magic needed from the position (and more at times). The veteran, in his eleventh NBA season, orchestrated Steve Clifford’s offensive system to his head coach’s liking - limiting his turnovers and making defenders pay for going under screens.
Serving as an NBA starting point guard for the first time since his days in Charlotte, Augustin posted career-high marks in field goal percentage, two-point field goal percentage, effective field goal percentage, offensive rating, true shooting percentage (two consecutive seasons over 61%), field goal percentage at the rim (0-3 feet), and corner three-point field goal percentage.
The New Orleans native was Orlando’s most consistent guard on offense, leading the team in three-point field goal percentage (42%) and assist percentage, while ranking second on the team in free throw percentage, true shooting percentage, offensive box plus/minus, offensive rating, and overall +/- per/100 possessions.
Augustin accomplished all of this with a low usage rate, as well as a relatively low turnover rate. The former Texas Longhorn recorded seven or more assists with one turnover or less in a game on fifteen separate occasions this season.
And of course, Augustin waited for the national stage to create his defining moment of the season in Game 1 of the playoffs in Toronto. After a six year hiatus from postseason play, the Magic returned to the playoffs and beat the Raptors on their home floor, thanks to Augustin’s game-winning three-point field goal with less than five seconds remaining in the contest.
Best performance of the season: 12/30 vs. Detroit
26 points (4-7 3PTA’s, 10-10 FTA’s), 8 assists (1 TO), 2 steals
2019-20 Season Outlook
Augustin heads into next season with one year remaining on the four-year/$29 million-dollar contract he signed with Orlando in the summer of ‘16.
I wasn’t crazy about the contract when it was first awarded three years ago, but it obviously looks great at the moment. Having a guy like Augustin on the roster for less than $8 million next year is a win-win for the organization.
His veteran leadership and guidance for what is still a very young roster comes at a very manageable cost for the Magic. If the team is competitive next season, which I think most of us assume they will be, then Augustin will be around to see the end of his current contract (and perhaps longer) in City Beautiful.
If the team were to fall off for some reason, Augustin’s expiring contract would be easily moveable to a team competing for playoff positioning in ‘20. Now, that’s obviously a worst case scenario situation that Orlando’s management can deal with if they have to cross that bridge down the road.
For now, the Magic need Augustin to just keep doing exactly what he’s been doing for the last two seasons. Provide stability, consistency, and toughness from the lead-guard position.
Moving his locker directly beside Markelle Fultz’s locker wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
Previous “Season in Reviews” in this series