Evaluating the Orlando Magic Roster Hierarchy

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NEW YORK, USA - APRIL 15: Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic during an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center in the Brooklyn borough of New York City on April 15, 2015. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The Orlando Magic have played their first 14 games. With an 8-6 record, they’re starting to look more like what was expected in the off-season (as opposed to their surprising 6-2 start). However, there are plenty of good things to look at. Many of Orlando’s struggles have been centered around early injury issues. Both of the Magic’s point guards have been hurt for quite a few games, which has cost the team. But some of Orlando’s most impactful players look good to start the season.

Evaluating the Orlando Magic Roster Hierarchy

While Orlando isn’t in an ideal position in the standings, some of its players have stood out among the rest of the league. Additionally, the Magic are getting some helpful contributions off the bench. Aaron Gordon, in particular, has been outstanding. He’s currently having a career season.

Aaron Gordon is Orlando’s best player

While Orlando has perhaps seen the most consistency from Evan Fournier, Gordon sticks out as the star. Gordon currently leads the league in three-point percentage at just below 52 percent. Al Horford trails him at about 48 percent. Gordon leads the Magic in rebounding and is second in points per game at 18.3.

What has been great for Gordon is his Total Points Added (TPA) number. While he is second on the team, he has the best amount of added points for players with a positive points saved number on defense. He’s not as high up in TPA as Fournier. However, Gordon’s all-around play has made him Orlando’s best player.

Evan Fournier has been an offensive rock

Evan Fournier hasn’t had any incredible scoring games like both Gordon and Nikola Vucevic have had. But he is certainly the most consistent. He’s slightly behind Gordon in three-point percentage. However, he’s leading the team in two-point percentage and has been scoring in a multitude of ways. Fournier also has the best TPA on the team.

Impressively, Fournier’s number of offensive points added is best on the team. At 43.49 per game, his impact is well above even Gordon and Vucevic. Their offensive points added are 28.9 and 21.16, respectively. Unfortunately, Fournier averages -6.76 in the defensive points saved category. While his overall TPA is still best on the team, Fournier’s defense needs to improve while he’s on the court.

Nikola Vucevic is cooling down

Nikola Vucevic started the season off really strong. He led the team in some wins while Gordon was out with a short-term injury. Vucevic’s three-point shot was looking phenomenal. Though he started the season out shooting 50 percent from downtown, he’s no longer shooting as well.

Through 14 games, Vucevic’s three-point shooting has dropped to 40 percent – still an excellent number. But his shooting, in general, has begun to decline. Vucevic’s field goal percentage is back down to 50 percent, though this is still tied for third-best on the team.

No one should’ve expected the big man to maintain the stellar numbers at which he started the season. It’s just not what happens in the NBA. However, Vucevic needs to start improving in some offensive areas for the Magic to regain some momentum.

Evaluating Orlando’s new bench

Last season, Orlando lost multiple games due to a lack of bench depth. This year, poor outcomes can’t just be blamed on the reserves. The bench is just stocked with more solid players. For instance, Marreese Speights led the team in points during the loss to Denver, finishing with 19. This topped both Vucevic and Jonathon Simmons‘ 18 points, even though they both played nine more minutes than Speights. Orlando also has a respectable backcourt, but head coach Frank Vogel should really consider giving Simmons some more minutes.

Simmons is still proving to be an excellent addition to the team. He’s fourth on the team in scoring and tied with Vucevic in shooting percentage. Keep in mind, Simmons is getting those numbers while playing some time at the point guard position while Elfrid Payton and D.J. Augustin have been out. This is impressive, considering point guard isn’t Simmons’ natural position. He’s been eager to help the team in whatever way he can, bringing a much-needed mentality to the squad. Simmons is easily Orlando’s best reserve. He could even earn a starting spot at some point.

Evaluating the team

Already this season, Orlando has made some surprises. Gordon is a blossoming star and the rest of the Magic’s veterans are at least pulling their weight. However, evaluating the team’s overall performance is difficult. If Orlando is so good, it would be more than just barely above a .500 record.

However, with a difficult schedule early on and some injuries to deal with, Orlando has been better than expected. The Magic still need to be more crafty on offense. They’re taking far too many contested shots. Additionally, while the defense has shown more effort, Orlando still needs to control the perimeter better. Poor discipline in committing fouls has also cost the Magic.

As the season keeps rolling and players get healthy again, Orlando will start winning more. The team has already had some impressive wins. If the best players can regain some momentum, they have a good bench to support them. With some simply smarter play, Orlando can be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.

 

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