Happy Media Day!
Our Zach Oliver will be reporting live from Orlando Magic Media Day so be sure to follow him (@ZachOliverNBA). We already had a mini Markelle Fultz Media Day last week, and now we get some updates on the rest of the roster. Here are some questions that should be asked....
What’s the rotation at center?
As we discussed over the offseason, the Magic made a sizable investment in size, with about 40 percent of Orlando’s salary cap this season devoted to bigs. Nikola Vucevic will remain the focal point for the team, but how will Steve Clifford allocate minutes to both Mo Bamba, a player drafted sixth overall to be the Magic’s center of the future, and Khem Birch, who replaced an injured Bamba as back-up center last season, helped solidify and spark the second unit, and re-signed over the summer.
How does Nikola Vucevic build on his All-Star season and avoid regression?
The Magic don’t hand out nine-figure contracts too often. But they did so this summer, making a hefty investment in Vucevic by re-signing him to a reported four-year, $100 million deal. As solid as Vooch was during his career season, and as necessary as it was too re-sign him, there is some risk that comes with banking on a 28-year-old center in a league dominated by wings and the three-point shot. Some regression is expected, and the hope is that some of the younger core can make a leap to compensate. But Vucevic, who was exposed in the postseason, must return to 2018-2019 regular season form for the Magic to build upon last season’s success.
Will Steve Clifford stick to a nine-man rotation?
The Magic returned almost entirely intact and are banking on continuity and internal improvement. Last season, with good health on their side, Steve Clifford exclusively utilized a nine-man rotation. But with the core returning, and with the additions of the newly-signed Al-Farouq Aminu and the recently-cleared-for-training-camp Markelle Fultz, it appears that there will be an odd man out or two (Khem Birch? Wes Iwundu?) unless Clifford expands his bench.
What’s the plan at point guard?
There won’t be a clear answer to this question until we see Markelle Fultz back on the court for game action. But the Magic’s failure to address their point guard depth in the offseason, outside of bringing back MCW, puts a risky dependence on an aging D.J. Augustin. At 32-years-old, and in the final year of his contract, Augustin has been everything and more the Magic could have expected from him as a starting point guard. But how many times can they go to that well before it dries up? The Magic are a point guard injury away from big trouble, arguably making Augustin their most indispensable player. At least until Fultz proves himself on the court.
Will Evan Fournier have a bounce back season?
The Magic desperately need the Evan Fournier of the World Cup and not the Evan Fournier of 2018-2019. Fournier’s performance over the summer - scoring in a variety of ways and showing no hesitation in initiating the offense - was very encouraging for Magic fans. Coming off what was his worst shooting season as a member of the Orlando Magic (shooting 43.8 percent from the field and 34 percent from three), we’ll see if his World Cup performance translates to the upcoming NBA season.
Who takes the leap?
It’s been an annual question for Aaron Gordon, who IMO doesn’t seem to be getting the proper amount of praise for the season he had at both ends of the court last year. This year, that question is better directed at Jonathan Isaac, who is a consistent three-point shot away from a breakout season.