NBA Heat Check: Feeling the Magic

John Scriffiny

Feeling the Magic: After years of mediocrity following the departure of Dwight Howard, things are finally looking up for the Orlando Magic.

Despite having just a 23-29 record, the Orlando Magic are definitely on the up and up. The young core built by their front office has a lot of promise, with Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Mario Hezonja, Nikola Vucevic, and Aaron Gordon. Their athleticism is apparent as Aaron Gordon is in the dunk contest and Oladipo was quite impressive a year ago when he attended.


The Magic have a very intriguing backcourt, with Rondo 2.0 in Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo. However, Oladipo was moved to the bench, giving Evan Fournier the starting nod. The move seems to have worked, as Oladipo has impressed, bringing much needed energy to bench units while Evan Fournier has been effective in a starting role, averaging career highs in points, assists, rebounds and steals. Give their young backcourt some time to grow (especially Mario Hezonja), and the Magic will be making noise sooner rather than later. 

However, not all their talent is in their backcourt. The Magic have some pretty intriguing big men in Nikola Vucevic, Channing Frye and Aaron Gordon.

Vucevic is undoubtedly the most talented of the three. He his a great post player, as he is both adept at getting boards and creating shots around the rim.

Additionally, he is very good at hitting midrange jumpers. He is a prototypical offensive big man. He has taken a small step back this year, but is still averaging a very solid 17 points and 9 rebounds per game. Channing Frye is also a very interesting piece, as he can stretch the floor shooting the ball. He doesn’t defend or drive as well as prototypical stretch fours, but his floor spacing helps this offense go. Aaron Gordon is still a work in progress, but the sky seems to be the limit for him with his crazy amount of athleticism.

A good barometer of how athletic this Magic team is the fact that they have had two different players take part in the All-Star Slam Dunk Contest, but give this team a year or two, and Orlando will start having All-Star players instead of All-Star dunkers. Until next time.

Collegian NBA Blogger John Scriffiny can be reached online at or on Twitter at @JScriff.