It is February. The All-Star Break is this weekend. The standings appear to be settling.
Barring some crazy one, the teams that have little shot at making the Playoffs largely know who they are. And unfortunately, that appears to be the Magic. With just 16 wins, Orlando has the third fewest wins in the league and sits 7.5 games out of the final Playoff spot. Making that kind of a push is not impossible, but highly improbable in the final 29 games.
The focus, as it has been for much of the season, is squarely on preparing for this Draft and scouting and evaluating the players the Magic could take.
The Lottery is what it is, so it is hard to say exactly who might be available when Orlando gets its turn to pick. What is known right now is the potential pool of players. It seems with conference seasons hitting the halfway point, this is a good time to test some of the waters and see what players are falling where.
The Magic will have two draft picks this year -- their own and the worst pick between the Nuggets and the Knicks acquired in the Dwight Howard trade. This gives Orlando the potential -- just potential at this point with New York making a push to reach the Playoffs -- of having two lottery picks. The Magic are very very interested in what could happen in June.
Jeff Fox of Hoops Manifesto did a lot of the work for us collecting several mock drafts to come up with an early consensus mock draft. As things stand now, Joel Embiid and Tyler Ennis have seen the biggest rise with Embiid getting buzz from draft prognosticators of being the No. 1 pick.
As things stand, Embiid, Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins are seemingly the top three prospects in most mock drafts at this point. Going a little deeper, Dante Exum, Marcus Smart and Julius Randle make up the next three. If Orlando's positioning holds firm, the team would have its pick of one of these six potential star players.
There seem to be few scenarios in which the Magic would not get things to fall their way and miss out on these players -- unless they keep winning and climb the standings, which is also very possible.
So it appears as March gets closer the teams and players for Magic fans to watch is getting more and more set.
Who are your favorites right now?