Over the next few weeks Orlando Magic Daily will be taking a look at the things that went right and wrong this season as Orlando ended its season with its first Lottery season in six years.
They hit on game number one and did not seem to relent. The Magic had no choice but to roll with the punches and stay positive as they derailed any chance for consistency and success this season.
In the third quarter of the season opener against Denver, Hedo Turkoglu went up for a layup and a player hit his hand. It was broken and Turkoglu would be out until late December. As Adam Papageorgiou pointed out on the ELOOnline Podcast Magic Season Review, Turkoglu came to camp in shape and ready to contribute in a major way after a disappointing season and a half with the Magic (PED suspension aside . . .).
Instead, he played in just 11 games and never found his rhythm, scoring 32 total points and shooting 1 for 24 from beyond the arc.
Unfortunately, Turkoglu was just the beginning of the hit parade that became the Magic's season.
No hit was harder than Glen Davis going down with a shoulder injury on December 19. At that point, Orlando was 12-13 and could at least think about entertaining the idea of a run into the Playoffs -- just to shut some critics up. Davis averaged 15.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, taking full advantage of his larger role within the Magic's offense and taking his leaderhsip role very seriously.
The season fell apart from there as Orlando would win only eight of the final 57 games of the season.
No player on the Magic reached the full 82 games this season. Nikola Vucevic led the team in playing 77 games this year, missing five while battling the effects of a late-season concussion. At least he was consistent. Several other players though were constantly in and out of the lineup.
Jameer Nelson played in only 56 games, the second fewest games he has played in his career behind only his All-Star season in 2009 which was cut short by a torn labrum in his shoulder. Perhaps Nelson would have played more if a sprained ankle did not keep him out of the final nine games.
Glen Davis came back from his shoulder injury only to go down to a broken foot nine games later. Maurice Harkless' season got off to a false start with a sports hernia before the season. It took him a few months to develop comfort in the league and to get into game shape. Al Harrington was slow to return from his offseason arthroscopic surgery and only played 10 games before the Magic seemed to put him back on the shelf despite his apparent health.
Orlando lost far too many games to injury and as much as anything can be pointed as the reason the season went off the rails from a record standpoint. Yes, there were roster shortcomings and players asked to play roles they were not necessarily suited for. However, adding injuries on top of that did not help.
The injuries did give young players the opportunity to get more playing time. And it did seem like it was part of the plan for the Magic to allow veterans to take their time coming back from injury and return only when completely healthy.
Who knows how the season would have gone if even half the time lost to injuries did not happen? It seems pretty safe to say that the team would have had more than 20 wins.