The Orlando Magic finally appear to be heading in the right direction after missing the playoffs the past three seasons. The Magic have struggled since trading away Dwight Howard in August 2012 while trying to rebuild the through the draft.
Since starting their youth movement, the Magic have won a combined 68 games — the team went 25-57 last season. Orlando has drafted well over the past three seasons, but the Magic weren’t able to put everything together under former coach Jacque Vaughn. However, the future is starting to look bright for the Magic.
The Magic have a new coach in Scott Skiles and with the re-signing of restricted free agent Tobias Harris, the core of the team has been kept intact. Real GM’s Shams Charania reported that Harris will be in be in Orlando for the next four years.
Harris revealed how happy he was to be back in Orlando via his Instagram page.
With Harris in tow, the Magic will likely have seven players under contract through the 2017-18 season (this assumes that options and qualifying offers are exercised) — rookie Mario Hezonja, Victor Olidipo,Nikola Vucevic, Channing Frye, Aaron Gordon, and Elfrid Payton are the other players.
Harris averaged 17.1 points to go along with 6.3 rebounds in 68 games for the Magic. The soon-to-be 23-year old shot 46.6 percent from the field and a career-best 36.4 percent from the three-point line as well as 78.8 percent from the free throw line.
Stephen Shea of Basketball Analytics, a mathematician whose work has been featured all over the world and the Interwebs, had high praise for Harris.
“The numbers suggest that Tobias Harris is one of the better VFs (versatile forwards) in the NBA today. Statistically, he stands among some of the game’s biggest stars. He is only 22 years old and has been praised for his character and work ethic. Harris is certain to improve on his already first-class ability. Tobias Harris is the most underrated player in the NBA, but it won’t be long before he gets the credit he deserves.”
While Orlando appears to be better, Harris needs to continue to improve to get the Magic back into playoff contention in the Eastern Conference. Bleacher Report suggests that Harris needs to continue improve his three-point shooting and get better in catch-and-shoot situations — Harris averaged one point per possession when spotting up, which left him in the 62.9 percentile according to NBA’s statistical database. He also needs to improve on the defensive end.
The Magic have been relatively quite this offseason. In addition to re-signing Harris and drafting Hezonja, Orlando has added Tyler Harvey via draft and also own the draft rights of Janis Timma a 2013 draft choice of the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Magic have extended a qualifying offer to restricted free agent Kyle O’Quinn and ESPN‘s Marc Stein is reporting that they are pursuing free agent point guard C.J. Watson.
Watson would backup Olidipio at the point if he does indeed sign with the Magic. The 31-year old is coming off a career year with Indiana, averaging 10.0 points and doling out 3.6 assists a game. He also shot 40 percent from beyond the arc but just 43.4 percent from the field overall.
[photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images]