Why the Orlando Magic could be the surprise package of 2016/17

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The NBA has seen a summer of change as head coaches and players have switched franchises at an almost unprecedented rate.

It leaves a number of fans wondering exactly how their team is going to perform this season. The likes of the New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat are almost unrecognisable from the rosters that ended the previous campaign.

One team that has flown under the radar but could be in for a big season in the Eastern Conference is the Orlando Magic. While they have risked their future for a short-term reward, the franchise could finally be set for a return to the playoffs. Here are three reasons why. 

Head coach 

After Scott Skiles surprisingly jumped ship after less than 12 months in charge, the franchise made a smart choice in hiring former Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel. 

There were murmurs of discontent in Indianapolis about Vogel's defensive-minded style of play, but he is perfect for an Orlando franchise who are not flush with volume scorers.

Vogel knows how to organise a team; reaching two conference finals in his time with the Pacers - falling to LeBron James and the Miami Heat on three occasions in the postseason - and he knows how to get the best out of elite players. 


Trading away Vitor Oladipo for a rental of Serge Ibaka may have been a risk for the future of the organisation, but there is still enough young talent that should continue to develop next season.

Aaron Gordon has proven he is more than a dunk contest phenomenon and, having overcome his injury problems during his rookie season, looks set to have a big campaign. 

Elfrid Payton still has many questions hanging over his head; jump shooting is a major issue, but he is developing into the floor general the Magic need. Mario Hezonja also has a huge amount of upside despite struggling through his rookie campaign.

Free agency

The franchise made some strong moves in the offseason, Bismack Biyombo really had a breakthrough season with the Toronto Raptors and offers a fantastic presence in the paint. He will fit perfectly into Vogel's way of thinking.

Ibaka will become a primary threat for the organisation and, if he can rediscover his form of two seasons ago, then he can be a real weapon for the Southeast Division team. Jeff Green still has a lot to offer in the frontcourt while D.J. Augustin can be a huge plus as a guard. 

Couple these additions with the continued development of Nikola Vucevic and the effectiveness of Evan Fournier and the Magic have a strong unit that can squeeze a place in the top eight. 

Southeast Division
Eastern Conference
Orlando Magic

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