Starting the season 3-0 must help you make a big jump in NBA power rankings, right?
In a few rankings, yes. But not in all.
The Magic jumped all the way into the top five in a few. In others, despite being one of the league’s few remaining unbeaten teams, the Magic didn’t gain much ground.
Sure, it’s only three games into the season and the Magic’s early success isn’t exactly an indication they’re headed to the Eastern Conference Finals. Two of the three wins came against a shorthanded Wizards team still finding its way. But to still have the Wizards ahead of the Magic in the rankings? Seriously, Kevin O’Connor??
Weekly power rankings should be based on what has happened, not on what the ranker believes will eventually happen. Explain how it makes sense to have a 3-0 team that made the playoffs last season behind an 0-3 team that didn’t make the playoffs last season after beating them on back-to-back nights in their own arena.
The Magic did however make huge jumps other very well-respected NBA power rankings.
Click on each publication for the full rankings:
NBA.com - Magic jump from 19 to 5
The Magic are an offensive team again (the 2019-20, post-All-Star version of themselves), or maybe they’ve played two of their three games against the Wizards’ defense. (Stay tuned.) Terrence Ross (23.3 points per game, 10-for-19 from 3-point range, 16-for-16 from the line) is on fire, Markelle Fultz has shot 18-for-29 (62%) in the paint, and Aaron Gordon (one of the league’s worst high-volume shooters from the outside last season) hasn’t tried to shoot too much.
They’ve trailed in the fourth quarter of all three games, but the Magic vs. their opponents in the final 12 minutes has been almost as lopsided (115-72) as Mavs-Clippers was on Sunday. Orlando was 12-40 after trailing in the fourth quarter last season.
Four of the Magic’s next five games are against the Thunder and Cavs, and it’s up to you to project if that’s a soft stretch of schedule (it’s the Thunder and Cavs) or a tough one (the Thunder and Cavs are both undefeated). — John Schuhmann
ESPN - Magic jump from 19 to 18
The hottest team in basketball through one week? The Magic can make a strong case after coming back from a 17-point deficit to start the fourth quarter in a win over the Wizards. Steve Clifford’s team is playing tough early and getting a big boost from young guard Markelle Fultz and veteran Terrence Ross. The pair combined for 52 points in Sunday’s victory. — Nick Friedell
The Ringer - Magic jump from 26 to 23
It brings me great joy to watch Fultz play competitive basketball. Fultz still isn’t shooting jumpers at the same level he did in high school and college, but he has made progress. Fultz led a 17-point comeback on Sunday, scoring 10 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter while looking the part of the player who was a worthy no. 1 pick.
It’s understandable if you aren’t a believer in his jumper, but his free throw shooting is encouraging: He’s made 83 percent of his 23 attempts from the stripe, including preseason, which could bode well for the success of his shot off the dribble. Perhaps more importantly, the rest of his game is back, which means energetic defense, slick playmaking, and hard downhill drives.
We’re coming up on the two-year anniversary of the Sixers dumping Fultz for Jonathon Simmons, a 2019 second-round pick (Carsen Edwards), and a 2020 first (Tyrese Maxey). Depending on how Maxey develops, the deal could work out for both sides. But Fultz is still only 22, and just signed a three-year, $50 million extension, so remain patient with his shot and enjoy the rest of his game. As is, he’s pretty good. — Kevin O’Connor
Sports Illustrated - Magic jump from 24 to 17
Markelle Fultz’s jump shot remains quite shaky, but does it really matter at this point? Orlando’s newly extended point guard crossed 20 points in each of the last two games, sporting an impressive offensive arsenal in the process. Fultz is a nightmare to defend in transition. He changes speeds with ease, always keeping defenses on their heels before finishing with either hand. Fultz’s vision continues to improve. He has a soft touch inside the foul line. The former No. 1 pick is finding his footing in a major way after a bumpy start to his career. — Michael Shapiro
CBS Sports - Magic jump from 16 to 5
Orlando took down the Heat on opening night, then picked up back-to-back wins over the Wizards to remain undefeated. Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon and Markelle Fultz have been solid in the starting lineup, while Terrence Ross has lit it up off the bench, averaging 23.3 points on 53 percent 3-point shooting over his first three games. The offense has been surprisingly potent, but playing two games against the Wizards always helps in that department. — Colin Ward-Henninger
Bleacher Report - Magic jump from 19 to 15
The Orlando Magic are not known for their offense, but they are averaging 121 points. They pulled off a big win against the Miami Heat to open the season and then pulled off two close wins against the Washington Wizards in their miniseries.
This has been the same Magic team for years; they know who they are and how Steve Clifford wants them to play.
The player to watch is Markelle Fultz for Orlando. If he can attack the paint and finish, it will open up opportunities for his teammates. Late in the first game against the Wizards, he attacked Thomas Bryant off a pick-and-roll and then flipped the ball back to a cutting Nikola Vucevic for an important bucket.
The Orlando Magic are the Joey Knish of the NBA. They are not flashy or fancy, but they grind out just enough wins to make the playoffs.
They look on track to be that team again if this past week was any sign. — Mo Dakhil
The Athletic - Magic jump from 23 to 4
Week 1 overreaction: Markelle Fultz is their most important player. I know Nikola Vucevic is their All-Star center. I know Aaron Gordon is their Swiss Army Knife on both ends of the floor. Evan Fournier is the sharpshooter, and Terrence Ross is the spark. But Fultz being able to push the tempo and put the defense on its heels is what makes the Orlando Magic go this season. The jumper from deep still isn’t there, but he’s making nearly all of his free throws. Fultz being overwhelming athletically as an attacker is giving them life early on.
Why are they ranked here? They always seem to beat the Heat, but the wins over the Wizards will look better as the season goes on. — Zach Harper