As the 2016-2017 NBA season is coming to a close, another abysmal campaign for the Orlando Magic is coming to an end. The Magic are 28-53 and this will mark their fifth consecutive losing season, and fifth straight year without a trip to NBA Playoffs. Following the 2011-2012 NBA season wholesale changes were made in Orlando as general manager Otis Smith and head coach Stan Van Gundy were let go, while All-Star center Dwight Howard was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. Rob Henningan would replace Smith and his first order of business was to hire Jacque Vaughn as his head coach. However Vaughn was never able to kickstart things with the Magic as he compiled a record of 58-158 during his tenure in the Magic Kingdom. Vaughn would be fired midway through the 2014-2015 NBA season, and since then Orlando has employed three different head coaches. The Magic have consistently missed in the category of drafting as this organization is an afterthought in the NBA. But make no mistake about it that wholesale changes should be forthcoming in Orlando at the conclusion of this season.
The Magic are no closer to being a playoff team than they were when Hennigan became their general manager. Only two of Hennigan’s first-round picks with the Magic are still on the roster. Shooting guard Victor Oladipo was the second overall pick of the 2013 NBA Draft. Oladipo came into the NBA being compared to Dwyane Wade, but after averaging 15.9 points in three seasons with the Magic, he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder last summer. Power forward Aaron Gordon was taken fourth overall by the Magic in 2014, and although that his numbers have improved in each season in the NBA, he is a classic tweener as he is too big to be a small forward, while being too small for the power forward position. And unfortunately for Gordon, he is primarily known around the NBA for his dunking ability. Shooting guard Mario Hezonja was taken fifth overall by the Magic in 2015, but he is only averaging 4.8 points per game this season as his production doesn’t match where he was selected in the draft as all of this falls into the lap of Hennigan. And as a small-market franchise, the Magic don’t have the luxury of being able to lure big named free agents to Orlando which puts that much more emphasis on the NBA Draft for them as they cannot afford to miss there.
Frank Vogel is finishing up his first year as the head coach of the Magic and this will just be the second time in his coaching career that he’ll miss the NBA Playoffs. The last six years saw Vogel as the head coach of the Indiana Pacers and he led them to the postseason five teams. But in Orlando, Vogel simply doesn’t have the pieces in play yet for his system to be effective. And if the Magic decide to move on from Hennigan, is Vogel’s job as head coach safe?
But regardless of who is running the show in Orlando next season, there needs to be a huge culture change there. As the Magic have missed the playoffs in each of the last five years, they made it there in the previous six seasons. This is an organization that has lacked a buzz for quite some time and this season didn’t make it any better. The Magic have not posted a winning record at any point of this season which includes them going 9-21 in their 30 contests. And the icing on the cake of this futility was a 114-75 beatdown at the hands of the Chicago Bulls this past Monday night.
Shooting guard Evan Fournier is leading the Magic in scoring this season at 17.2 points per game, while center Nikola Vucevic can consistently get double-doubles which is evident by his 14.6 points and 10.4 rebounds per contest, but the Magic simply lack a centerpiece for their team that everyone can play off of. And until the Magic can find those kind of players in the NBA Draft, they are going to continue to be an afterthought in the league.