Orlando Magic Power Rankings Roundup: What a week can do

Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic

Nov 5, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magi forward Aaron Gordon (00) walks down the court during the second half at Amway Center. Orlando Magic defeated the Washington Wizards 88-86. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic were sinking like a ship after the first week. A few wins in a row though has them floating a little bit more now.

Last week, the Orlando Magic were about as low as they could be. They were 0-3 and were nearly blown out in all three games. Things were looking bad for the new-look Magic. They did not look like they could function on either end of the floor.

That will get you pretty low in the NBA power rankings. And the way the Magic lost to the Miami Heat, Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers certainly did not provide much confidence.

Then last week happened.

The Magic scored a win over the Philadelphia 76ers, Sacramento Kings and Washington Wizards all in somewhat similar defensive fashion. They kept the game close and gutted it out with stellar defense in the fourth quarter.

At the very least, it looked like a sign that this thing could come together. Getting back to 3-3 after that terrible 0-3 start showed a lot of fight and grit.

Maybe all those good feelings got knocked down a peg as the Chicago Bulls ran the Magic out of United Center on Monday. That bad team from two weeks ago still exists in some way. So too does the good team.

The teams the Magic beat last week are not the cream of the crop at all. Philadelphia is not likely to make the Playoffs. Sacramento has more talent but is not likely to make it either. And Washington looks like a mess at the moment.

The Bulls were the first real test the Magic had since rediscovering their identity and they failed it pretty miserably.

Even before the Chicago game, it was fair for the league to have a fair amount of skepticism about this team. And that is reflected in this week’s Power Rankings Roundup, even as the Magic returned to .500.

Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic, Garrett Temple, Sacramento Kings

Nov 3, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier (10) goes up for a shot in the second half as Sacramento Kings guard Garrett Temple (17) defends at Amway Center. Orlando Magic won 102-94. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Jeremy Woo, Sports Illustrated

1

Cleveland Cavaliers

(6-0)

Last week: 3-0 record
Last rank: 2nd

18

Minnesota Timberwolves

(1-4)

Last week: 1-2 record
Last rank: 14th

19

Orlando Magic

(3-3)

Last week: 3-0 record
Last rank: 20th

Drop three, win three, and poof, back to .500. As constituted, this team is going to struggle to score.
20

New York Knicks

(2-4)

Last week: 1-3 record
Last rank: 19th

Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated is pretty much spot on with his early analysis that the Magic will not score many points. They will not score many points this season. The offense has been bad this year — they are 26th in the league in offensive rating so far.

The Magic were good enough to get back to .500. But without an increase in their offensive rating and a decrease in their defensive rating, the Magic’s place near .500 will be precarious.

Orlando has won games against teams in its weight class so far. The Bulls are not that kind of team. But Wednesday’s opponent, the Minnesota Timberwolves, is a little bit more in their wheelhouse.

Nov 3, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon (00) takes a shot in the second quarter as Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay (8) defends at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 3, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon (00) takes a shot in the second quarter as Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay (8) defends at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Gerald Bourget, Hoops Habit

1

Cleveland Cavaliers

(6-0)

Last week: 3-0 record
Last rank: 1st

22

Sacramento Kings

(3-5)

Last week: 1-4 record
Last rank: 16th

23

Orlando Magic

(3-3)

Last week: 3-0 record
Last rank: 27th

Two weeks, two completely different stories for the Orlando Magic. After a winless opening week, the Magic’s first win of the season — against a Sixers side that completely choked in the game’s waning minute — was not exactly convincing.

Frank Vogel’s squad backed that up with wins over the floundering Kings and Wizards, so perhaps Orlando is exactly who we thought they were: An inconsistent team playing for a great coach who will probably flirt with .500 territory before falling out of the playoff picture. In any case, at least we know Aaron Gordon can still dunk.

24

Phoenix Suns

(2-5)

Last week: 2-2 record
Last rank: 29th

Aaron Gordon is a nice saving grace? It seems like he provides one dunk highlight per game. That should be enough to keep people watching.

The Orlando Magic though are, analyzed correctly, very inconsistent at the moment. The defense comes and goes and it carries the offense with it. Or maybe it is the other way around? It is hard to tell much with this team.

Serge Ibaka, Orlando Magic, Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

Nov 1, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) grabs a rebound past Orlando Magic forward Serge Ibaka (7) during the first half at Wells Fargo Center. The Orlando Magic won 103-101. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

John Schumann, NBA.com

1

Cleveland Cavaliers

(6-0)

Last week: 3-0 record
Last rank: 2nd

19

Miami Heat

(2-3)

Last week: 1-1 record
Last rank: 20th

20

Orlando Magic

(3-3)

Last week: 3-0 record
Last rank: 28th

The Magic are undefeated in November, getting wins in three different ways last week. They got into the paint in Philadelphia, shot well from the perimeter against Sacramento, and won ugly against Washington. All three games were close late and Frank Vogel used 10 different guys with the score within five points in the last five minutes. His best offensive (floor-spacing) lineups and best defensive lineups could eventually look very different. The defense has been surprisingly bad with Aaron Gordon and Serge Ibaka on the floor together.
21

Memphis Grizzlies

(3-4)

Last week: 1-3 record
Last rank: 12th

It is very true Frank Vogel is still figuring out the best combinations and the best lineups for his team. He has used Bismack Biyombo and Nikola Vucevic interchangeably as needed. He has used Jeff Green late. He has had to figure out which levers to pull.

The defense though remains a big concern. Serge Ibaka’s struggle on the defensive end is causing the team’s defensive rating to sink. That is the big thing the Magic have to resolve within their lineups more than anything. Orlando has to be a good defensive team to succeed.

[nextslide teaser=”Brandon Jefferson, FanSided” slider=”true”]

Oct 26, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic head coach Frank Vogel reacts to the referee against the Miami Heat during the second half at Amway Center. Miami Heat defeated the Orlando Magic 108-96. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Jefferson, FanSided

[power_ranking order=”1″ city=”Cleveland” teamname=”Cavaliers” score=”(6-0)” teamlogo=”cavaliers” league=”nba”]

20

New York Knicks

(2-4)

21

Orlando Magic

(3-3)

The Orlando Magic did not have a great performance in their game against the Chicago Bulls last night, they let the Bulls get fast break after fast break and the game was seemingly over before the halftime buzzer sounded. The only silver lining for this game came from the pinstripes of the Magic’s blue away jerseys.
I’m going to go on record and say that the Orlando Magic don’t even know what the Orlando Magic are doing anymore. This team is one conundrum stacked on top of the other in the form of forwards and centers. Frank Vogel was gifted to them from the Pacers, but with too many cooks in their frontcourt kitchen it’s a tougher job than originally imagined to get the Magic out of the doldrums of the East–where many a general manager have lost their jobs.

Aaron Gordon as Paul George 2.0 is already a failure and Mario Hezonja has once again seen his inner-JR Smith stifled. Elfrid Payton, the only other lottery pick that the current Magic regime made, still can’t shoot and hasn’t done much else to grow his game besides gaining experience just from playing as much as he does. If this team remains playing .500 basketball it is a credit to Vogel and his staff.

Things could be worse for the kids of Disney World, just look at the teams below them, but this is a team that wasn’t looking for more of the same this year. They made a multitude of moves with the intention of turning their team into a playoff team this year. The return on their investments so far have not been good. If this team can’t reach the lofty goals placed upon it by the front office then there will be major changes to come to the Magic organization.

22

Sacramento Kings

(3-5)

FanSided is not particularly high on the Magic are are ready to pack things in after two weeks and one really bad performance against the Chicago Bulls.

There are certainly big questions. And it does seem like the front court is a little too crowded. That could resolve itself in the trade market in a few months. The team has a lot of mismatched pieces.

But this team requires patience too. The Magic can play well, they just have not done it consistently yet.

Jeff Green, Orlando Magic

Oct 3, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; Orlando Magic forward Jeff Green (34) warms up before a game against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Marc Stein, ESPN.com

1

Cleveland Cavaliers

(6-0)

Last week: 3-0 record
Last rank: 1st

20

Milwaukee Bucks

(4-3)

Last week: 3-1
Last rank: 24th

21

Orlando Magic

(3-3)

Last week: 3-0 record
Last rank: 29th

Nothing about the Magic is more important to the Committee right now than Jeff Green’s presence in Chicago on Monday night to face the Bulls. Our Chicago-based ESPN.com colleague Wayne Drehs — our dear roommate at the Olympics in Rio — will be undergoing the same heart procedure Monday that Green faced in 2012 and made it all the way back from after he missed the entire 2011-12 season. Which is how Green became an inspiration to our man Drehs. Prayers up, WD.
22

Phoenix Suns

(2-5)

Last week: 2-2 record
Last rank: 28th

Jeff Green has already proven himself to be something of a lightning rod for Magic fans. They alternately are done with him or are ready for him to start over Aaron Gordon. Such is the life of following Jeff Green.

Stein’s story though about Wayne Drehs and what Green went through though are something to remember.

Mario Hezonja, Orlando Magic

Nov 5, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic guard Mario Hezonja (8) dunks against the Washington Wizards during the second half at Amway Center. Orlando Magic defeated the Washington Wizards 88-86. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Moore, CBS Sports

1

Cleveland Cavaliers

(6-0)

Last week: 3-0 record
Last rank: 1st

18

Denver Nuggets

(3-3)

Last week: 2-2 record
Last rank: 24th

19

Orlando Magic

(3-4)

Last week: 3-1 record
Last rank: 30th

Their wins (Sixers, Kings, Wizards on a back-to-back without John Wall) are suspect, but those are three wins nonetheless. I am very much skeptical of this team, but am beholden to “wins are wins.”
20

New York Knicks

(2-4)

Last week: 1-3 record
Last rank: 18th

Indeed wins are wins. That is ultimately what matters. it does not matter how you get them. There is no such thing as an ugly wins.

The Magic though are winning plenty ugly. Maybe that is ultimately what they want to do. But the team has had to win some ugly, ugly games so far this year. And gut them all out.

There is still a long way to go and this team can still come together. Last week proved it. But then again, Monday’s game proved something too.

This team is still seeking an identity.

This article originally appeared on