The Magic are in need of improvement. So did this off-season provide exactly that?
Coming off a laughable 29-53 record, the Magic organization finally realized changes needed to be made. So, after firing Rob Hennigan and hiring president Jeff Weltman and GM John Hammond, the changes started to manifest right then and there. Sometimes in order for a team to get better, there needs to new minds and opinions in the front office. Hopefully, they can lead Orlando into the right direction.
First off, let's see what they did on Draft Night. In a packed Draft class like the most recent one we just had, picking the right rookie was extremely vital for now and the future.
Jonathan Isaac and Wesley Iwundu
The Magic selected 6 ft 11 forward Jonathan Isaac from Florida State with the sixth pick. Iwundu, who's from Kansas State, was selected in the second round as the 33rd pick. He's also a forward, who can play some shooting guard. It's easy to see the Magic wanted versatile players, and that's exactly what they got.
Isaac has a lot of physical tools, along with a strong skillset to go with it. He can shoot the mid range shot, handle the ball, and be ferocious under the boards. Iwundu is a defensive specialist with some good passing abilities. Looking at the Orlando roster at first, it could seem they would need a potential-filled point guard. However, the Magic needed something a bit more general than that. They needed a jack of all trades. Someone who can switch to defend more than one position, and play with heart and hustle. Development is crucial for every rookie, so these two new Orlando players need the attention they deserve.
On July 15, Orlando has the pleasure of signing Jonathon Simmons from the San Antonio Spurs. He only averaged 6.2 points and 2.1 rebounds a game last season, but the minutes weren't quite there for him. He has shown his potential in spurts rather than a long consistent season. His playstyle, like the rookies the Magic got, is all about versatility. He's a capable scorer and defender. Simmons is not exactly young being 27, but he's definitely still got his prime years in front of him.
Being with the Magic, now he will have all the chances in the world to prove himself. Whatever production he gives off, will be beneficial for the Magic and their goal to win. Overall, this was a smart free agent signing.
Arron Afflalo, Khem Birch, and Mo Speights
Orlando wasn't close to being finished on fixing up this roster. They got a solid, athletic big man in Khem Birch. A surprising but welcomed return from swingman Arron Afflalo. And last but not least, veteran big man Mo Speights. All three of them undoubtedly bring something good to the table. For starters, Khem Birch is your definitive shot blocker. He was a D-League All-Star in 2015, and a two-time MCW (Mountain West Conference) Defensive player of the Year back in his college days. He's a bit short for the center position at 6 ft 9, but his athleticism makes up for it. It also helps he's only 24 years old.
Arron Afflalo is a player anyone would want in this league. He can shoot from anywhere and is a decent defender. Adding to the point, he can also bring veteran leadership, which a young team like the Magic need. In fact, he's already done that before in Magic jersey. In the 13-14 NBA season, he averaged 18.2 points and 3.4 assists for Orlando. Of course, he probably won't put those same numbers up for them again this upcoming season, but his presence on the team is a plus nonetheless.
Then we get to Marreese Speights, who also brings veteran leadership. The Florida native big man gives the Magic some shooting, and the ability to play the 4 or the 5. One thing is for sure, he's happy to be here.
"It's an unreal feeling and if I try to explain it, it would be an understatment. So it's just a blessing to be here because I never thought I'd be playing for my home team."Speights said.
All three of these players were signed on friendly, reasonable contracts as well, so these were just some solid moves all across the board.
It's nice to see Orlando make small, but impactful moves that help in the long run. The new front office seems like they know what they're doing. They have confidence in the team they have now, but they're also innovative in their moves. Of course, the off-season isn't over yet. Trades can happen, more free agents signings could appear, so there's definitely more news to look forward to. Overall, the Magic are shaping themselves quite well. Let's see if that can translate onto the court for wins.