Orlando Magic 2019-20 Win Total Prediction
Last year marked the 10th anniversary of the Magic’s previous trip to the NBA Finals. Orlando was quietly one of the most-improved teams in the league last season under first-year head coach Steve Clifford. The Magic went 42-40 during the regular season, which was good enough to win the Southeast Division and earn the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. After winning Game 1 of their first-round postseason series against Toronto, the Magic lost four straight.
While finishing two games over .500 isn’t a great season for most franchises, last year was something of a rebirth for the Magic. That snapped a 6-year run during which they finished south of the .500 mark every year, and they hadn’t made the playoffs since going 37-29 during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign. From 2012 through 2018, Orlando won at least 30 games just one time.
The 2019-20 iteration of the team looks like the one we saw a season ago. MyBookie.ag has Orlando’s over/under for wins at 40 ½ with juice on the over (-140). Can Orlando repeat as Southeast Division champs for the first time in a decade?
Magic 2019 Offseason Moves
The biggest question going into the offseason for the Magic was the status of Nikola Vucevic. The USC product has become one of the more unheralded superstars in the league during his time with the franchise, but his contract expired at the end of last season. The 2019 crop of free agents was littered with stars, so Vucevic once again flew under the radar. However, there were many other teams reportedly interested in plucking him out of central Florida.
In the end, though, Vucevic wound up staying. A couple of days before the beginning of free agency, the 28-year-old signed a 4-year pact worth $100 million to stay with the Magic. Vucevic is the crux of what the Magic want to do on both sides of the floor, and he is fresh off his first-ever All-Star appearance. The big man averaged a career-high 20.8 points and 12 rebounds with nearly four assists per game in 2018-19.
Keeping Vucevic was the . The only other notable move was the signing of Al-Farouq Aminu, who came over on a 3-year deal worth around $29 million. Aminu is a defense-first wing that has shown the ability to step outside and knock down the 3-point shot. Aminu has spent the last four years as a key cog on the wing for Portland. Before that, he spent time with the Pelicans and Mavericks after being a lottery pick of the L.A. Clippers in 2010.
Aminu is a perfectly fine depth signing, but his fit with the Magic is questionable. Orlando is teeming with capable bodies in the frontcourt, though they could have used a little bit more Shooting. Aminu will join Vucevic, Jonathan Isaac, Aaron Gordon and Mo Bamba upfront. Clifford will surely find a role for him but adding another forward to this roster didn’t make a whole lot of sense on the surface.
Orlando was also able to retain swingman Terrence Ross and backup center Khem Birch, who will battle with Bamba for minutes behind Vucevic. Bamba was the team’s lottery pick in 2018, but Birch has quietly become an excellent player during his time in Orlando. Bamba has had some injury issues, though, so the Magic felt it was necessary to spend the $6 million required to keep Birch in town.
Magic 2018-19 Statistics
|Points per Game||Offensive Efficiency||3-Point Shooting|
|107.3 (24th)||106.5 (21st)||35.6% (11th)|
|Points Allowed per Game||Defensive Efficiency||Opponent 3-Point Shooting|
|106.6 (5th)||105.8 (8th)||34.7% (10th)|
Magic vs Southeast Division
The awful Southeast Division somewhat buoyed Orlando’s 42-40 record. Orlando went 10-6 against the rest of the division, which ultimately helped them get past Charlotte and Miami. The Magic managed to go 30-22 against the rest of the Eastern Conference, compared to a sub-.500 mark of 12-18 against the Western Conference. The Magic also took care of business in Orlando (25-16 at home) while struggling away from home (17-24).
I see no reason to believe the Southeast is going to be much better this season. It should be worse. Charlotte and Washington are pretty clearly 2 of the worst teams the league has to offer, if not the two worst. Miami and Atlanta are fringe playoff contenders, at best. I think the Heat can nab one of the bottom-2 playoff spots, while the Hawks would be lucky to finish in the top-8. If I had to guess, I’d estimate that the Hawks are still another year away from legitimate playoff contention.
Someone has to win this division, so it might as well be Orlando. The Heat have the highest win total prop of the five teams that populate the Southeast, and I think Miami is Orlando’s chief competition.
Magic 2019-20 Win Total Prediction
Orlando’s offense was nothing special last season, but Clifford helped turn the team around by fixing the defense. The Magic ranked a very respectable eighth in defensive efficiency a season ago, which is what propelled them into the postseason. That defense was impressive enough for the Magic to have a positive point differential (-0.7) on the season even though they finished just 24th in points per game (107.3).
The Magic had the No. 1 defense in the league after February 1, so it will be interesting to see if they can repeat that throughout a full campaign. The Magic are a team that will slow the pace and dominates the glass without committing many dumb fouls. All three attributes are hallmarks of well-coached teams.
If the Magic are going to take a step forward this season, one of Jonathan Isaac or Aaron Gordon is going to have to make something of a leap. Gordon has turned into an excellent player during his first 5 NBA seasons, but he hasn’t done much improving. The Arizona product averaged 16 points and just over seven rebounds per game this season while shooting about 35 percent from deep. Isaac, who has quickly become one of the most useful wing defenders in the game, made definite strides on the offensive end as last season progressed.
The Magic also took a shot at former No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz last season. Fultz’ career to this point has been bizarre, but it’s good that he has already gotten a change of scenery. I would expect D.J. Augustin to at least begin the year as Orlando’s starting point guard. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Fultz took the job by season’s end. Fultz is still only 21, so there is a reason for optimism about his career despite the rocky start. If he can solve the weird jump shot issue that has plagued him through his first couple of seasons, the Magic may have gotten themselves a steal.
Fultz is a work-in-progress, though. What he becomes remains to be seen. Even if he flames out, the Magic still have a roster that is good enough to compete with Miami and a few other teams for the last couple of playoff spots in the East. If the defense can stay among the league’s best, Orlando has a chance to win every night. It’s a style built to beat worse teams while also keeping the Magic competitive against superior squads.
Things can go awry if the Magic run into some poorly timed injuries. I see no reason to think this team is any worse than it was last season. If anything, they should get better. Isaac, Fultz and Bamba are still incredibly young, while Gordon likely hasn’t reached his peak quite yet. There is enough complementary depth around Vucevic, too. The Eastern Conference is weak, which means some less-than-stellar teams like Orlando, Miami and Detroit have a chance to sneak into the playoffs.