The Magic’s season is working out better than anybody could have expected.
The club publicly said they weren’t going to tank, and the players played tough.
But then came a slew of injuries, close losses, bad defense and -- like an unintentional intentional walk – here we are:
The Magic are not only in good position for the lottery, they are getting their young kids plenty of work. And no one has brought tanking charges against the Magic.
They are 14-33, having moved into position for a shot at the No. 1 overall draft pick.
The Magic have lost 20 of 22 games, including losing streaks of 10 and, currently, nine.
And yet Congress isn’t launching an investigation into their practices.
It couldn’t have worked out better, I’m telling you.
Seriously, what sense would it make for them to secure the No. 8 playoff spot, only to be humiliated by the Miami Heat in the first round?
Oh, the Magic would make a few million bucks hosting a home playoff game or two, but they’d be ineligible for the lottery. They'd also lose using the lottery as an asset, a bargaining chip in their rebuild.
Say what you want about the draft’s unpredictability, but those picks come fairly cheap for a franchise looking to create cap room.
Losing stinks, especially after an eight-year run with Dwight Howard.
Injuries to key guys is unfortunate, leaving fans with the what-could-have-beens.
Watching the Magic become irrelevant in the league nearly four years after they reached the NBA Finals is disheartening.
But now, with all the injuries piling up, their rebuild is taking shape.
You see Maurice Harkless scoring 19 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in a loss to Milwaukee on Saturday night. You see Nik Vucevic continue his steady play. You see Andrew Nicholson keeping us intrigued every once and a while.
You have to hand it to coach Jacque Vaughn. Rookies or not, coaches want to win – and win now. For instance, he could have given veteran Hedo Turkoglu more than five minutes at small forward – even started him to help snap the team from its funk – but he stayed with Harkless and played him 42 minutes.
When the season started, 14 and 33 this wasn’t exactly the Magic’s public plan, given all the veterans on the roster and all the bad teams in the league. But it’s now going according to plan in spite of their efforts. Brilliant.