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Orlando Magic Media Day: The Future is Now


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Image courtesy of Corey Bing/Baller Mind Frame.

Image courtesy of Corey Bing/Baller Mind Frame.

Well, it’s that time of the year again. The start of a new NBA season and a new era for the Orlando Magic. Shipping away incumbent starter for the last decade in Jameer Nelson, along with trading away fringe Eastern Conference All-Star in Arron Afflalo, the Magic convened back to the Amway Center with a few new faces on the team, as well as a few familiar faces.

Already in year 3 of the post-Dwight Howard era, General Manger Rob Hennigan is ready to shift the Magic into a crucial stage of the rebuild. A stage where not only he and the players, but mostly everyone is expecting the Magic to begin it’s ascension from the NBA cellar. One cannot help but be excited for the young talent Hennigan was able to amass over the last few years or so, but from just being around the players today, there’s a lot of confidence emanating from each of them. There’s a belief that this is the year the Magic will take that next step on the road back to glory.

Time To Forge An Identity

The Magic have made it no secret that they plan on becoming one of the NBA’s defensive juggernauts  soon. Drafting players who are not only world-class athletes, but are defensive stalwarts in Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton, Head Coach Jacque Vaughn has made it known that the young team will be one that gets after it on the defensive end of the floor. Expectations for coach Vaughn has however, remained the same. “I’ll keep it very simple with these guys. We want to be a team that produces, and gives effort consistently”. Consistency has been one of the key themes for Magic, but now that consistency will have a bit of defensive tenacity mixed in this upcoming season.

Victor Oladipo Is Ready

The former 2013 No. 2 overall draft pick had a fantastic offseason. From being invited to and training with the league’s brightest young stars at the Team USA training camp, to working out at the University of Indiana with Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade, Victor Oladipo heads into training camp primed and ready to take over as the leader of franchise. When asked about how much he’s embracing becoming a leader, Oladipo spoke like a seasoned vet “ A lot of the guys are my age mates, and I need them, to be a leader. It’s two sides to leadership. You can’t be narrow-minded or have tunnel vision.” Magic rookie Aaron Gordon had this to say about his teammate: “Victor, he’s ready to be a leader, and I’m ready to follow and learn from him.” It’s going to be a real treat for Magic fans, and fans in general to see what kind of player Oladipo emerges into as he heads into his second season.

Vets know their role

With the Magic turning their franchise over to their young core, they brought in a few veteran players in Channing Frye, Willie Green, Luke Ridnour, and Ben Gordon to help maximize the young gun’s abilities while teaching them the art of short term memory. “ You got to have short term memory in this league.” said Frye. “We have to help them understand that you’re going to make plenty of mistakes. You have to move on to the next play.” Willie Green also had similar words to say: “You have to be a next-play guy. Games come quick and you can’t dwell on mistakes.” The vets seem to have a firm grasp on their purpose here in Orlando. They know their roles will be limited, but they will have a significant impact such as Luke Ridnour helping Oladipo, Elfrid Payton, and Evan Fournier learn about the nuances of running a team, or Ben Gordon coming in to impact the game on the offensive end of the floor.

The first two years of the post-Dwight era are a thing of the past now. That much became evident when you listen to each player talk. There’s an ever-growing confidence brewing within the walls of the Amway Center and it will most definitely be carried into training camp. Training camp battles will be fierce, the energy will be heightened, and the potential in this team will begin to emerge. This isn’t about just simply playing hard, it’s about finally taking that next step towards making visions of a consistent contender into a reality. Today marks the end of an old era, and the beginning of a new.

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