The Orlando Magic has done something many thought they wouldn’t or couldn’t this offseason. They improved tremendously. Let’s be clear. There will be no championship banner raised in 2016 but they have put themselves in a great position for the future.
Once they traded Victor Oladipo it looked as if they had given up and we’re headed towards Tank-village, but a closer look at the roster will tell otherwise. Their frontcourt will be good, and I mean scary good. Their starting lineup will consist of Serge Ibaka, Nikola Vucevic, and Aaron Gordon with Bismack Biyombo coming off the bench. They are not on the Spurs level yet but give them a year or two and they will be mentioned as one of, if not the best in the NBA.
But it all starts and ends with their PG Elfrid Payton. Last season was a rough one of sorts as he was benched or dealt with injuries but this is a new year and a new opportunity to prove his worth. Much like the another great guard before him, Jason Kidd, Payton is not a threat from the perimeter and does his damage near the rim. While his numbers are modest, there is much room for improvement and that should make the Magic giddy.[embedit snippet=”2″]
Last season he averaged 11 points, four rebounds, and six assists in 30 minutes if action. But here is where his numbers will see an increase. Oladipo often brought the ball up and set the offense from the top of the key, but this season it falls on Payton. If Payton can use his quickness to get into the heart of the defense he now has options. Ibaka is a great inside presence but he has worked hard on perfecting his perimeter game and feels comfortable from 15 feet out. Aaron Gordon is the high flyer and Vucevic is the banger.
But, Payton’s weapons doesn’t stop in the paint. His new running mate in the backcourt is sharpshooter Evan Fournier. If Payton can catch Fournier on the perimeter with an open look, he has a chance for 10-11 assists per game.
It took Kidd a while to find the right teammates and when he did his stock rose. Could Payton be in store for that type of career?