The first season of the Magic's rebuilding program is over. It featured a lot of young players getting lots of time to grow and develop in their first and second years all under (at least early on) the watchful eye of several veterans. Undoubtedly, having Jameer Nelson, Glen Davis and Arron Afflalo among others in that locker room helped Maurice Harkless, Andrew Nicholson, Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris grow.
Eventually though they got in the way of playing time for the young players. Injuries and "injuries" began to take over as the Magic were happy to allow players to take as much time as they needed to get back 100 percent healthy.
Arron Afflalo and Glen Davis likely could have pushed themselves to play if that is what the Magic really wanted. Having been eliminated from the Playoffs already, there was no need to risk further injuries. Jameer Nelson missed all of April with what was at first a sprained ankle. Al Harrington and Hedo Turkoglu were pretty much healthy scratches, even when they could have been used in minor roles to help give young guys a rest.
Orlando wants these veterans around for their leadership and guidance for the young players. But playing the young guys was a priority for this team. And it will remain to be so in what is expected to be another developing year in 2014 (with an eye on a start-studded Draft class).
Tobias Harris might be saying the team's goal next year should be to make the Playoffs -- and it should be -- but the question is whether you can rely on these young players who struggled specifically on the defensive end in the final months of the season -- the Magic gave up a 107.7 defensive rating in the final 20 games. If the Magic favor young players again next year, without major improvement from multiple players, the Playoffs are just that: a goal.no comments