2017-18 Orlando Magic Predictions and NBA Futures Odds Picks
I went to a game in Orlando last year while on a family vacation. Beautiful new arena. Amazing parking. And the loudest P.A. I have ever heard in a sporting venue by a wide margin. Almost deafening. And it has to be so that the place doesn't feel like a mausoleum. The place was far from full on a Friday night, a good portion of the crowd was tourists, and people were so quiet that it was almost eerie. But can you blame them? What in the world do they have to cheer for with this team? What reasons have they had for hope since Dwight Howard left town? And I hope the speakers are tuned up for this season, because it's not like they are suddenly going to be turning any corners.
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2017 Orlando Magic Betting Storylines
Answer this question in a vacuum, ignoring the context of the team - what kind of player is Elfrid Payton? Nice enough point guard, but not a star now and not likely to be one. Does that seem fair? Well, on paper the problem is that Payton, as much as anyone, is the core of this team. He's the guy that is the focus of marketing and game planning as much as any other player on the team. And Payton is never going to be a star in this league - not a truly elite one, anyway. He's a complimentary piece for a good team, but he's the core of this team. Now, erase what I said and let's ask the exact same question about Aaron Gordon. Same answers. The Magic seem to be patiently waiting for these two to realize their full potential. But do they realize that they could both be the best versions of themselves and this would still be a bad team playing in a quiet arena?
The team has invested well over 30 percent of their payroll in centers Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo. First, that's insane - especially the incredibly stupid deal they are locked into for three more years with for Biyombo. But beyond that is another problem. They have learned that Payton can't perform at his best when more than one big man is on the court at the same time. He is far from his best on the outside and was a much better player last year after Serge Ibaka left and the team played with one big man at a time. The coaching staff has been open about the fact that they want to give Payton room, and that means a smaller, more athletic lineup. So the team has taken a disproportionate amount of their payroll and put it into a position that they can't maximize the impact of. And here's another problem. The team drafted Jonathan Isaac this year, and he's perhaps the best athlete in the draft. He's long and talented. He probably needs some time, but his best chance of success is playing with Gordon in a combination that could terrorize opponents at full potential. But that would be a lineup that would minimize the two expensive centers even more. The best lineups compliment each other to maximize their impact. This lineup looks to be built to get in each other's way.
2017 Orlando Magic Additions and Departures
Drafting Isaac with the sixth overall pick is the centerpiece of the draft. The ridiculously long forward from Florida State seems to be really good value with the sixth pick, and the upside is there. He may not have superstar potential, but he's the best asset the team has right now.
The team spent a lot more money before last season than they did this summer. They did shuffle a lot of players around, though. Shelvin Mack was added to provide depth at the point. Jonathan Simmons joins Mackin the backcourt with a three-year deal after leaving San Antonio. Arron Afflalo and Marreese Speights were given cheap contracts in hopes that they have a little left in the tank. And they took a flyer on Khem Birch, though he's behind Gordon and Isaac on the depth chart so he's not going to be beating serious minutes. To make way, guys needed to leave. Jeff Green was given a totally insane $5 million contract last year, and it didn't even remotely pay off, so he left for Cleveland and won't be missed. Jodie Meeks signed with Washington, and Stephen Zimmerman was waived and joined the Lakers.
2017 Orlando Magic Futures Odds and Trends
Orlando Magic Futures Odds
NBA title odds ( from BetOnline ) : +50000
Eastern Conference title odds : +20000
Jonathan Isaac ROY Odds : +5000
Season win total (from BetOnline): 31.5
If you were consistently pessimistic about the Magic last year, it served you very well - they were 32-49-1 ATS, so there were serious profits to be made betting against them as often as possible. The total was not at all profitable, though - the record was 39-42-1.
2017 Orlando Magic Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
I like Isaac, and I don't even mind Payton as the kind of player he is. But the sum of these parts just isn't very impressive. This is a pretty underwhelming team, and it's not clear to see how they are planning to get back to relevance. The biggest thing in their favor is that the East is just lousy beyond the top few teams, so a team like this could win more games than they deserve to. I'd lean towards the under on the season win total, but not with any particular enthusiasm.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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