The head coach's office in Orlando surely has a revolving door. If it doesn't then it really should. Up until Feb. 5 of last year Jacque Vaughn was in charge, as he had been for three very unspectacular seasons. When he left, assistant James Borrego was made the interim coach, and eventually given the rest of the year. He wasn't retained past the end of the season and went to San Antonio as an assistant - one of the all-time great job upgrades in league history. Scott Skiles took over for last year, but then this spring he decided, bizarrely and totally unexpectedly, that he was not the right man for the job. He left the team in the lurch, but they recovered nicely by hiring Frank Vogel, who had just been fired from Indiana. Vogel is the best coach of the group, so they got it right eventually, but what a strange path it has been.
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2016 Orlando Magic Betting Storylines
It's not just the head coach situation that has seen a whole lot of change lately. The team dramatically overhauled the roster - only six guys from last year survived the summer. The most dramatic change involved a trade to Oklahoma City - a really bad trade. They shipped out very solid guard Victor Oladipo, forward Ersan Ilyasova, and the draft rights to Domantas Sabonis. In exchange they got Serge Ibaka. Ibaka is a strong defensive talent, but he isn't at the peak of his career, and he can become a free agent after this season. That's a ridiculous price for a rental, and it creates some roster balance issues. The Thunder must be beyond thrilled about this deal.
There's another thing I don't like about the Ibaka deal. Last season they traded Tobias Harris to Detroit for Brandon Jennings and Ilyasova. That was a bad deal then, and it looks much worse now with Ilyasova traded again and Jennings gone to New York. If Ibaka leaves after the season then the team could have ditched Oladipo and Harris - two of their brightest lights - and have nothing left to show for it. Hardly the ideal model for a team trying to rebuild.
About that roster imbalance. The Magic and the Washington Wizards should get together. Washington has a deep and talented backcourt and real concerns about depth up front. Orlando is the opposite. With the addition of Ibaka, and the rest of their free agent action, they have a real load up front and a backcourt that is downright scary. And not the good kind of scary. Elfrid Payton is the point guard, but as of yet he has done little to make us think that he is worthy of being a starting guard in this league. That's a recurring theme - they don't have any guards who are what contending teams have as starters. Up front, meanwhile, they have all sorts of depth - at least relatively - Ibaka, new-and-overpaid-and-unproven-but-still-talented free agent Bismack Biyombo, promising youngster Aaron Gordon, Jeff Green, Nikola Vucevic, Mario Hezonja - it goes on and on. It's not the best frontcourt in the league or anything, but if the guard depth was half as good as the forwards it would be much easier to be optimistic about the squad. To make matters worse, they traded for Ibaka and then paid handsomely for Biyombo. In other words, they invested heavily in what was already a relative strength, and they did little to improve a backcourt that is sure to be an issue.
2016 Orlando Magic Additions and Departures
We've largely covered this. Oladipo and Ilyasova were traded. Jennings left. Andrew Nicholson went to Washington. So did Jason Smith. Aside from Ibaka and Biyombo, interesting additions include Jeff Green, Jodie Meeks, and draft choice Stephen Zimmerman, who was a value pick at 41st. It was a whole lot of shuffling but far less improving.
2016 Orlando Magic Futures Odds and Trends
Orlando was not a great team, but they were certainly nice to bet on - at 45-36-1 ATS they were tied as the second-best betting team in the whole league. The under had a small 42-39 edge on the total, so there was no real money to be made on the totals.
Orlando Magic Futures Odds (from Bovada)
NBA title odds : +20000
Eastern Conference title odds : +5000
Season win total (from Westgate): 36.5
2016 Orlando Magic Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
Vogel is better than a lot of options, so he'll do what he can with the roster. The overhauling will have to continue - hopefully much more logically - in order for this team to turn into a real force, though. It is going to be a long season for the Magic as they sit now. I don't see them finishing better than fourth in the division, and the playoffs just aren't happening. I think there is decent value in the "under" on the season win total here.
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