Reviewing the 2019-20 Orlando Magic

November 10th, 2020

by Alan Lu

The Orlando Magic’s logo in 2020.
(Photo:
Orlando Magic, via Wikipedia)

The Orlando Magic had their ups and downs throughout the 2019-20 NBA season.  They may not have won as many games as they expected, but they were still able to snag a playoff spot as the 8th seed in the East. The Magic even had their moment in the sun in the postseason, and for one day, they stunned the NBA basketball world.

The Orlando Magic even defeated the Giannis-led Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of the 1st Round of the 2020 NBA playoffs, and it even sparked a trend setting mood from notable Ringer writer, Slow News Day podcaster, and prominent Orlando Magic fan Kevin Clark, as seen on NBA Desktop.  

The 2019-20 Orlando Magic won Game 1 of the first round against the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2020 NBA playoffs due to the tremendous performance of Nikola Vucevic, and for one game, the Magic shocked the nation. The Orlando Magic segment starts around the 6:09 mark.
(Source: YouTube/NBA Desktop)

Without a doubt, the Magic’s Game 1 win over the Bucks in the first round was their greatest win of their year, and star center Nikola Vucevic powered them to the victory with his dominant 35-point, 14-rebound, and 4-rebound performance in which he made 5 threes in that game.

Unfortunately, the Orlando Magic still had to win three more games to advance to the next round, but they were unable to do so against Milwaukee, as they fell to the Bucks in 5 games in their first-round series.

Orlando Magic’s one-time All-Star center, Nikola Vucevic had a very good season that was punctuated by his sterling 35-point performance to lead his team to win in Game 1 of the first round series against the Milwaukee Bucks, though the series was far from over after that.
(Photo:
Kim Klement/USA Today Sports, via The Guardian)

C Nikola Vucevic – B+

2020 (ORL): 19.6 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 3.6 APG, 48 FG%, 34 3PT%, 78 FT%, 32.2 MPG, 21.9 PER, 6.4 WS

Vucevic is a very skilled big man that excels at scoring, rebounding, and passing the basketball, and he had his best game by scoring 35 points to help get his team the Game 1 win over the Milwaukee Bucks early in their first-round series.    Vucevic is currently Orlando’s best player, and he is kind of like a poor man’s Jokic.  On the other hand, he recently turned 30 and may have only several good years left, as this would put his team at a crossroads.  As where his team stands right now, it might be in the Magic’s best interest to either make moves to win now if they keep him, or to trade him to a contender if they feel that can’t win a title with him as one of their best players.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starting center on the Orlando Magic
Projected 2021 Rating: 3 stars

Aaron Gordon is a versatile, skilled combo forward that plays for the Orlando Magic, and he put on a show in the 2020 NBA Slam Dunk contest.
(Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images, via The Mercury News)

F Aaron Gordon – B-

2020 (ORL): 62 GP, 14.4 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 3.7 APG, 44 FGT, 31 3PT%, 67 FT%, 32.5 MPG, 15.1 PER, 3.7 WS

Gordon is a very athletic combo forward that has been a mainstay on the Magic’s team, and he’s been a fairly solid player for them, although some have been disappointed that he hasn’t exactly turned out to be a star for them.  Gordon excels as a facilitator and defender, but his lack of shooting or elite scoring ability combined with his sizable contract may cause some fans to want to have him traded to another team.  Currently, Gordon is still one of his team’s best players, but there are concerns that maybe he’s reached his peak as a fairly solid role player in the NBA.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starting power forward on the Orlando Magic
Projected 2021 Rating: 2.5 stars (3 star potential)

G Evan Fournier – B

2020 (ORL): 66 GP, 18.5 PPG, 3.2 APG, 47 FG%, 40 3PT%, 82 FT%, 31.5 MPG, 16.4 PER, 4.6 WS

Evan Fournier had a fairly solid season with the Magic this year.  He excelled as a shooter and scorer, and he arguably had his best individual season.  He still will need to improve his rebounding and defense, but his ability to shoot and score the basketball will allow him to see a lot of minutes with his team in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starting shooting guard on the Orlando Magic
Projected 2021 Rating: 2.5 stars

Orlando Magic’s starting point guard, Markelle Fultz had a very good bounce back season in his third season in the NBA.
(Photo:
Kim Klement – Pool/Getty Images, Hoops Habit)

G Markelle Fultz – B+

2020 (ORL): 72 GP, 12.1 PPG, 5.1 APG, 3.3 RPG, 47 FG%, 27 3PT%, 73 FT%, 27.7 MPG, 14.3 PER, 2.7 WS

Fultz is the former 2017 number one overall pick that was selected by the 76ers, but he disappointed in his first two seasons as he struggled with injuries and with shooting woes that plagued him in Philadelphia.  Late in the 2018-19 season, he was dealt to the Orlando Magic, and Fultz received a fresh start that would change his NBA career and trajectory.

Markelle Fultz easily had his best NBA season to date this year.  He excelled at attacking the basket and he also excelled as a facilitator, rebounder, and defender.  He will still need to significantly improve his jump shot, but at least he has his confidence back.  Now that he’s a confident player again, there’s hope that Fultz could carry that momentum to excel for the Magic for years to come.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars (3 star potential)

F Terrence Ross – C

2020 (ORL): 69 GP, 14.7 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 40 FG%, 35 3PT%, 85 FT%, 27.4 MPG, 14 PER, 3 WS

Ross is an athletic, energetic swingman that has been a 3 and D type of role player for the Orlando Magic.  He doesn’t have any elite skills other than having very good athletic gifts as he is also the former 2013 NBA Slam Dunk contest champion, but he can do a little bit of everything.  He will need to make outside shots at a higher clip, and he will need to defend better, but Ross will likely get plenty of minutes on the Magic next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

F Jonathan Isaac – B-

2020 (ORL): 34 GP, 11.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 2.3 BPG, 1.6 SPG, 47 FG%, 34 3PT%, 78 FT%, 28.8 MPG, 17.3 PER, 2.5 WS

Isaac is a very athletic combo forward that had a solid season in his third year with the Magic, leading up to the Orlando bubble.  He is a gifted defensive player that showed improved shooting and rebounding skills, though he is still neither an elite outside shooter nor scorer.  

In the Orlando bubble, Isaac got himself embroiled into a controversy by deciding not to kneel with his teammates, and he also refused to wear a Black Lives Matter shirt, and shortly afterwards, he ended up going down to a season ending knee injury late in the year.  Isaac is not likely to play the 2020-21 season, but his ability to excel on both ends of the court will give the Magic a solid player when he comes back, but he will need to work on getting healthy and returning to full form first.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starting small forward on the Orlando Magic
Projected 2021 Rating: 2.5 stars (3 star potential)

C Mohamed Bamba – B

2020 (ORL): 62 GP, 5.4 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 46 FG%, 35 3PT%, 67 FT%, 14.2 MPG, 17.5 PER, 2.5 WS

Bamba is an athletic, defensive-minded big man that had a fairly solid seaso with the Magic in limited minutes.  He showed that he can capably knock down outside shots to space the floor, and he also excelled as a rebounder, shot blocker, and interior defender.  On the downside, he will need to work on drawing and making his free throws, as well as his playmaking skills, and he’s not really much of a scorer on offense. 

Perhaps he could get more baskets in a motion-based offense that would utilize his length and athletic gifts, and it would serve the Magic well to draw up more plays where he can score on lobs and off-ball movement.  While Bamba has not quite obtained as much playing time as expected due to being behind Vucevic, he’s a solid role player that will likely be a regular rotation player for the Magic in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars (3 star potential)

G D.J. Augustin – C-

2020 (ORL): 57 GP, 10.5 PPG, 4.6 APG, 40 FG%, 35 3PT%, 89 FT%, 24.9 MPG, 14 PER, 2.9 WS

After having a very good 2019 season as the starter on the Magic, Augustin saw his minutes and production decrease after he was demoted to being the backup point guard on the second unit.  Augustin’s shooting generally suffered, but he still effectively ran the team at the point.  He will need to shoot as well as he did in 2019, and he will need to improve his defense.  Right now, he projects to be a backup point guard for an NBA team next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

Side note: Will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

G Michael Carter-Williams – B-

2020 (ORL): 45 GP, 7.2 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.1 SPG, 43 FG%, 29 3PT%, 83 FT%, 18.5 MPG, 15.3 PER, 1.9 WS

The former 2014 Rookie of the Year had a bounce back season with the Magic in 2020, and MCW was able to get valuable rotation minutes when he was healthy.  The tall point guard excelled as a facilitator, rebounder, and defender for his team off the bench, though he will need to improve his ability to shoot and score the basketball.  Still, it was a good thing that he was able to get some significant playing time this year, and he will look to build off of that for next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

Side note: Will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

F Wesley Iwundu – C

2020 (ORL): 52 GP, 5.8 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 42 FG%, 34 3PT%, 80 FT%, 18.3 MPG, 10.3 PER, 1.7 WS

He is an athletic swingman that is basically a 3 and D type of role player in the NBA.  He’s a low volume scorer that possesses decent defensive skills, but he will need to improve his shooting and scoring ability.  Right now, Iwundu’s ability to defend and potential to knock down shots could allow him to be in Orlando’s rotation next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

Side note: Will be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

F James Ennis – C- (C+ with Philadelphia, D with Orlando)

2020 (TOT): 69 GP, 6.6 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 45 FG%, 33 3PT%, 81 FT%, 18.3 MPG, 11.5 PER, 2.4 WS
2020 (PHI): 49 GP, 5.8 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 44 FG%, 35 3PT%, 79 FT%, 15.8 MPG, 12.3 PER, 1.7 WS
2020 (ORL): 20 GP, 8.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 45 FG%, 29 3PT%, 84 FT%, 24.5 MPG, 10.3 PER, 0.7 WS

James Ennis excelled as a rebounder and scorer off the bench this year, primarily for the 76ers, but he didn’t shoot nor defend nearly as well with Orlando as he did for Philadelphia.  Orlando has a lot of players returning, and so it’s uncertain if Ennis will opt into his contract, but he is an athletic, 3 and D role player that can certainly be an effective rotation player when he is on his game.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

Side note: Has a player option at the end of the 2019-20 season.

F-C Khem Birch – C

2020 (ORL): 48 GP, 4.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 51 FG%, 19.2 MPG, 11.7 PER, 2.2 WS

Birch is an athletic big man that excelled as a finisher around the basket and interior defender this past season, but he experienced significant drop-offs in shot making, rebounding, and shot blocking in extended minutes in 2020.  He will need to play as well as he did in 2019, but Birch still could end up being a rotation regular for the Magic in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

F Al-Farouq Aminu – F

2020 (ORL): 18 GP, 4.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 29 FG%, 25 3PT%, 66 FT%, 21.1 MPG, 7.6 PER, 0.1 WS

After having been an integral role player on the Portland Trail Blazers, Aminu signed a new contract with the Orlando Magic, as he was expected to be a major contributor this season.  Unfortunately, he played very poorly early on in the season with the Magic and he never really caught on, and he missed the rest of the season due to a knee injury

His year in 2020 did not go well at all, but he did get paid quite well for his team with the Magic this past season.  He’ll obviously need to shoot the ball much better, but his defensive versatility and athleticism will give him a chance to get another shot to be a mainstay in Orlando’s rotation in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

F Gary Clark – C+

2020 (ORL): 24 GP, 3.6 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 42 FG%, 35 3PT%, 100 FT%, 14.8 MPG, 10.1 PER, 0.6 WS

Gary Clark is a tough, physical combo forward that played fairly well in limited minutes for Orlando in 2020.  He showed an improved jump shot, and he did a much better job of making shots efficiently when he was on the floor. 

On the downside, he will need to improve his passing ability, and he didn’t defend nearly as well as he did with Houston as a rookie in 2019.  Clark has also never played 1000 minutes or more in any NBA season yet.  Currently, he projects to be a player that could fight a rotation role on Orlando’s team next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars

Side note: Will be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

F Vic Law (Two-Way) – C-

2020 (ORL): 8 GP, 1.9 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 33 FG%, 14 3PT%, 33 FT%, 7.8 MPG, 3.7 PER, -0.1 WS
2020 (NBA G-League): 33 GP, 19.7 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 2.7 APG, 50 FG%, 40 3PT%, 89 FT%, 35 MPG, 18.5 PER, 2.7 WS

Law is a 6-7 swingman that projects into a 3 and D role at the NBA level.  He didn’t play much for the Magic in 2020, and he’s unlikely to get much playing time for them next season, either. On the plus side, he shot the ball very well when he played in the NBA G-League this past season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Depth swingman, fringe roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1 star (2 star potential)

G Melvin Frazier – C-

2020 (ORL): 19 GP, 2.1 PPG, 44 FG%, 50 3PT%, 50 FT%, 6.6 MPG, 9.8 PER, 0.2 WS
2020 (ORL): 23 GP, 18.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 2.2 SPG, 2.1 APG, 51 FG%, 32 3PT%, 66 FT%, 37 MPG, 16.6 PER, 1.1 WS

Frazier is a very athletic swingman that had a very good showing at the 2018 NBA Draft combine that helped raise his draft stock, and he was selected in the second round that year by the Orlando Magic.  Unfortunately, Frazier has rarely gotten off the bench, and he hasn’t really been given much of a chance to play.   He’s been able to make threes and get steals in limited minutes, and Frazier shows the capacity to excel in a 3 and D role off the bench. 

He’ll certainly need to get more playing time, but that place might not be in Orlando, as his team will have a crowded rotation next season.  Next season could be a make-or-break year for Frazier, and he may have a tough time making Orlando’s team if he doesn’t make noticeable strides to improve and progress as an overall player.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1 stars (2 star potential)

Side note: Has a team option at the end of the 2019-20 season.

F B.J. Johnson (Two-Way) – D+

2020 (ORL): 10 GP, 3 PPG, 28 FG%, 33 3PT%, 90 FT%, 8.3 MPG, 5.4 PER, -0.1 WS
2020 (NBA G-League): 28 GP, 22.8 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 2.0 SPG, 1.9 APG, 46 FG%, 41 3PT%, 78 FT%, 16.4 PER, 1.1 WS

B.J. Johnson did not play very much this past season with the Magic, but he showed that he can sort of knock down jump shots, and he is also a capable rebounder, but he will need to improve his all-around skills, and he’s unlikely to get extended playing time with Orlando next season. 

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Depth swingman, fringe roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1 star (2 star potential)

Head Coach:
Steve Clifford – B-

2020 (ORL): 33-40, 1-4 in the playoffs
Career: 271-294, 5-16 in his playoff career

Steve Clifford had a terrific 2019 season where he far exceeded expectations, and he led his team to a winning record, and the 7th seed, where they ended up getting ousted by the eventual world champions, Toronto Raptors in the 1st Round of the 2019 playoffs. 

This past season in 2020, the Orlando Magic didn’t get nearly as many wins in the regular season as expected, but they still managed to snag the 8th seed, and they had one really good game as they beat Giannis and the Milwaukee Bucks in the first game of the 1st round of the 2020 NBA playoffs due to a spectacular performance from one-time All-Star center, Nikola Vucevic.  Unfortunately, the Magic had to win three more games to advance, and they couldn’t do it or accomplish that feat, and they lost in 5 games to Milwaukee.  Still, it was a fairly good coaching job by Clifford in 2020, all things considered, and he managed to get more production out of Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac than people had anticipated.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Head coach of the Orlando Magic
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

2020 Orlando Magic, season grade: C+

This team wasn’t expected to make any noise in the playoffs, let alone get there prior to the start of this season.  The Orlando Magic managed to have their one shining moment, and they proved that an underdog team can beat a team that was thought to be a juggernaut at least once in a series.  The Magic has a lot of fairly talented players, but they don’t really have elite players though, so they’re not likely to contend for the title next season.

The Magic excelled defensively, and they were a strong defensive team that also took care of the ball on offense.  However, they will need to shoot, rebound, and pass the ball better, and they will need to focus on getting more shooters for their team in the offseason.

The Orlando Magic’s Projected 2020-21 NBA Rotation

Projected Starters:
C Nikola Vucevic
F Aaron Gordon
F Terrence Ross
G Evan Fournier (Has a player option at the end of the 2019-20 season)
G Markelle Fultz

Key Reserves:
C Mohamed Bamba
F Wesley Iwundu
G D.J. Augustin* (UFA)
The 15th Overall Pick of the 2020 NBA Draft

Others competing for a spot in the rotation next season:
C Khem Birch
G Michael Carter-Williams* (UFA)
F Gary Clark* (RFA)
F Al-Farouq Aminu

Other players that are currently projected to be on their next season’s roster:
F Jonathan Isaac (Likely will miss the entire 2021 season due to a knee injury)
G-F James Ennis (Has a player option at the end of the 2019-20 season)
G-F Melvin Frazier (Has a team option at the end of the 2019-20 season)
G-F B.J. Johnson (Two-Way Contract)
G-F Vic Law (Two-Way Contract)
The 45th Overall Pick of the 2020 NBA Draft

Players that will be Restricted Free Agents:
Wesley Iwundu
Gary Clark

Players that will be Unrestricted Free Agents:
D.J. Augustin
Michael Carter-Williams

Projected Players Cut from Next Season’s Roster:
B.J. Johnson, Melvin Frazier

2020 NBA Draft Picks:
#15, #45

Projected Offseason Plan for the Magic:
The Orlando Magic are a defensive-minded team that is built around skilled center, Nikola Vucevic, and they have plenty of fairly talented players that could help round out their rotation.  The Magic could use a playmaker that could push for playing time, as Fultz has only played well in one of his three seasons in the NBA, Augustin’s shooting numbers generally dipped significantly, and Carter-Williams has tended to be injury-prone over the years. 

The Magic also could use players that can shoot and score the basketball, and they could use scorers that can help ignite their team’s offense.  The Magic are capped out, however, and so they will probably look to bring most of their team back, and then fill out the roster by finding undervalued players on minimum contracts.

Expected Win-Loss Record in 2021*: 34-38, 8th seed in the Eastern Conference

In this scenario, the 2021 Orlando Magic would play against the Chicago Bulls in the play-in game, with the winner playing against the 1st seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the 2021 NBA playoffs.

Expected 2021 Season Outcome: The Orlando Magic have a decent group of players to work with, but they don’t have any one elite player on their team.  They’re good enough to make the playoffs, but they won’t likely go very far in the postseason, as they will likely end up being one of the backend teams in the playoffs out in the East.

(* – The asterisk denotes that the expected regular season win total is adjusted for the 72-game schedule that the NBA will play for the 2020-21 season.  The initial projection for the Magic was for them to get 39 wins in an 82-game season.  Also, the projected record does not take into account for the NBA draft or free agency, as those events have not happened yet.)

In case if you need the rubric for my player rating system of projecting NBA players for the 2020-21 season, here is the link. In addition, Basketball-Reference and Spotrac were vital information sites that I used to look at player and team statistics, as well as contract information.

Side note: Also, the letter grades attached to the player name was my grade for their 2019-20 season, as it is my judgment of their performance and whether or not they met or exceeded my expectations, and didn’t have much bearing on my projection of how they will perform for the 2020-21 NBA season.

Also, for Orlando Magic’s fans, Aaron Gordon’s “9 out of 10” rap song can be found online everywhere, and it is a pretty humorous song where he disses Miami Heat legend, Dwyane Wade over the score he received in the 2020 NBA Dunk Contest in which Gordon dunked over 7-5 rookie center Tacko Fall.

The Orlando Magic’s veteran forward, Aaron Gordon was nearly a two-time dunk contest winner, but ended up being a runner-up to Zach LaVine and Derrick Jones Jr. in two different years. The best runner-up to never officially win a dunk contest, Gordon dropped a fresh hip-hop track in 2020. And he’s also drinking DWade’s wine, D Wade Cellars.
(Source: YouTube/Aaron Gordon)

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