2018 record: 42-40
- Jonathan Simmons
The Magic surprised everyone last year by earning the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs behind the strong play of Nikola Vucevic. The squad enters the 2019-20 season largely unchanged, with everyone a year older and a year more experienced. Newcomers Markelle Fultz and Al-Farouq Aminu should be welcomed additions to the team in both fantasy and real life. Aminu is a hard worker who plays his role well, and should be efficient while contributing in all areas. Fultz will hopefully provide some much needed help at the PG position, as the Magic have been relying heavily on a 31-year-old DJ Augustin. Look for them to be a playoff contender again, although they are unlikely to do a lot of damage in the early rounds.
DJ Augustin had a mini resurgence of sorts last year, averaging 28 minutes per game as the starting point guard to go along with 11.7 points and 5.3 assists. However, his starting gig will be challenged this year by Markelle Fultz, who is reportedly healthy and working his tail off this off-season. The former #1 overall pick is an intriguing late-round flier this year, as the starting PG job is his to lose, and there’s a chance he may finally fulfill some of his draft hype.
The PG situation in Orlando isn’t exciting, but the risk/reward ratio is favorable for a swing-for-the-fences pick in Fultz. Who knows? Maybe he will find his allegedly lost love for the game and become the star that he was drafted to be.
I recall during the 2012 draft when my precious Raptors were on the clock at pick 8, and Andre Drummond was still on the board. I screamed frantically at the TV, begging them to pick the star big man, who was once the top overall prospect before Anthony Davis decided he wanted to be tall. The Raps shocked everyone and picked Terrence Ross, who wasn’t supposed to go until later in the first round. Seven years later, Ross has become a serviceable member of the Orlando Magic, and should continue to be productive in the 6th-man role.
Evan Fournier is likely to start and get you some nice counting stats, but nothing to write home about. He’ll be a good source of points, treys, and even assists provided you get him late enough to make it worth your while. Ross isn’t too far behind with fairly similar numbers and better efficiency. Both will be usable, but I suspect you will be able to get Ross much later, which makes him a nice value to round out your team.
Small Forward / Power Forward
I had to combine the SF and PF categories, since the Magic have a bunch of tweeners that will be splitting playing time between these positions. Aaron Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Jonathan Isaac are all capable of playing the 3 and the 4, and there should be enough minutes to go around. Gordon is the ultimate tease, showing flashes of brilliance and early-round potential, but marred by cold streaks and inconsistency. Could this be the year he finally breaks out?
Speaking of potential, Isaac was a favorite sleeper pick last year. He didn’t quite turn into a stud, but he did have a productive year and almost joined the 1-1-1 club. Isaac had a nice run late last year to push the Magic into the playoffs while helping owners win fantasy championships. Early reports say that he’s making some nice gains during the offseason. Temper your expectations, though, but look for him to take another step forward towards fantasy stardom.
Aminu is another addition that will help the team, and should be able to carve out fantasy relevance. He may not get as much playing time as he did last year, but his defense and energy should be enough to get him on the floor to make him worth owning in standard leagues.
Remember last year when Nikola Vucevic‘s ADP slid because there was talk that Bamba was going to start, and Vuc was going to back him up? I swear people were treating Bamba like Shaq was in town again. This was a blessing in disguise for those who took a chance on Vuc in the 5th round, as he returned first-round value. Heck, he even finished ahead of Jokic for total value in standard 9-cat leagues. This year, there will be no sleeping on Vuc, as you will have to spend a second-round pick to get him. There are too many goodies in the first round to justify reaching for him there, but he is certainly in the conversation once the second round begins. Treat him as a slightly watered down version of Towns, as his help-you-everywhere numbers are similar. There are again questions about whether he can do it again, or if he will get traded. What does the man have to do to get some respect?! Vuc should be well worth a second-round pick this year, so don’t be afraid to pair him up with a stud wing that you got in the first.
As for Bamba, he did make a brief appearance at Summer League, but the Magic shut him down after one game. All indications are that the team was just being cautious. Bamba reportedly added 20lbs of muscle to his frame, which puts him at 240 pounds now. That should allow him to deal better with the physicality down in the paint. Some are still on the Bamba hype train from last year, but make sure you’re not one of them if Vuc is still in town.