The Orlando Magic took the NBA by surprise when it started it’s 2017-18 season strongly. However, early injuries have hurt the Magic’s good start. Through 28 games, the Magic have suffered seven injuries, two of them from D.J. Augustine. The Orlando Magic aren’t a strong enough team to be contenders unless they’re at least relatively healthy. The injury problem could be a major speed bump on the season.
Injuries Impede the Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic started the season on a high note. They were beating established teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs. Unfortunately, even in those games, the Magic had already begun to suffer injuries to important players.
The Bad Beginning
In only the second game of the season, starting point guard Elfrid Payton suffered a hamstring injury. This was particularly problematic because of the uncertainty that comes with hamstring injuries. To add to their woes, backup point guard D.J. Augustine suffered a hamstring injury of his own shortly after. Forced to carry the load were fringe point guard Shelvin Mack and Jonathon Simmons, a natural shooting guard. Unsurprisingly, the Magic stopped winning after suffering injuries at such an important position.
Starters Terrence Ross and Evan Fournier‘s injuries only magnified the troubles the Magic face. In particular, Terrence Ross’s long-term injury really sets the team back. Ross suffered a sprained MCL and a non-displaced fracture of his right tibial plateau and is out indefinitely. Losing Terrence Ross is a major problem for the Magic because of the strong defense he’s been playing on an otherwise defensively limited roster. However, the silver lining to losing Ross is the opportunity for players like Mario Hezonja or Wesley Iwundu to earn more minutes.
Fortunately, Evan Fournier’s injury doesn’t seem to be long term. However, his absence will hurt the team now that there isn’t a strong floor spacing shooter on the floor. Significantly, Orlando’s starting corps is spread thin with fellow starter Terrence Ross out. Unfortunately, the Magic are now without two of their starting wings. Overall, until at least Fournier returns, the Magic will really struggle.
Unfortunately, the Magic’s injury woes don’t end there. Rookie Jonathan Isaac suffered an ankle injury early this season. Strangely, it seemed implied that he would be out short-term at first. However, Isaac has now missed 16 games, and it doesn’t appear he’ll be back in the immediate future. The Magic have had a losing record since the lottery pick’s injury. Especially felt has been the absence of his defensive skill.
The injury of Orlando’s star play Aaron Gordon is worst of all. The power forward was recently put on concussion protocol during a loss to the Denver Nuggets. Fortunately, it seems like the former 4th overall pick won’t be out too long. However, it seems unlikely he’ll return in the next 2-3 games. He hopes to complete concussion protocol and return soon and has shown positive signs of doing so. Of all the players injured, Gordon’s absence will hurt the most if he’s out for any period of time. He’s been Orlando’s most important player so far this season.
What Orlando Will Do Moving Forward
The injuries have really started to mount for Orlando. The Magic will have 5 players out from injury after 28 games, three of them starters. Additionally, Orlando now has injuries to important positions and players. The power forward spot has become so depleted Mario Hezonja, a combo guard/forward, started at the 4 in their loss to Atlanta. Orlando is going to continue to struggle until it’s starters are healthy again.
The best way to get back on track will be to stay healthy once the short-term injuries are back. While that’s obvious, it will have to be a literal strategy for the team. The season will be derailed by the All-Star break if Orlando loses any more starters. Risky plays will always be necessary for a contact sport. However, forced adjustments may be necessary to combat the injury dilemma. Orlando can reduce risky contact plays by emphasizing a range shooting style of play. It’s not the Magic’s strength, but it ultimately will keep the team healthier. It may even help them improve one of their weaker areas in the long run.
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