Orlando at Utah
Time: 8 PM CT (NBA LP)
Spread: UTA -9.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Orlando Magic have won two-straight games but are still just 20-43 on the season. Orlando travels to Salt Lake City to face the Utah Jazz as heavy 9.5 point underdogs, and the Magic are just 7-25 on the road this season.
Utah has won eight of its past 10 games and is 20-11 at home while being currently 2-games out of the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.
Louisville product Donovan Mitchell is making his run for the 2018 Rookie of the Year Award. The Jazz now is playing a faster pace to utilize the skills of rookie Donovan Mitchell. He had 35 points and five rebounds on 10 of 20 shooting (5 of 11 threes) in the 99-88 loss to the Charlotte Hornets. Mitchell is looking like a future superstar, and the Jazz has some nice young pieces around him, but his emergence may shape the future of the Jazz’ building effort.
With an offensive cog like Mitchell around Gobert, it may be that the Jazz shapes its attack around Mitchell, with Rudy Gobert simply being the defensive anchor he is. Mitchell had another 40 point outing in the Jazz’s 129-97 win over Phoenix the last outing.
Mitchell is averaging 24.6 points per game over his last 10 outings while shooting 49.5 percent from the floor. In January, he averaged 23.4 points per game, no longer showing any signs of all of being a rookie. Mitchell also comes up with 1.4 steals per game over his past 10 games, while having scored 33 percent of his 9.6 threes attempted per game. Mitchell was taken No. 13 overall but is definitely in the top-3 of whatever becomes of this draft class. He has the shooting range and slashing ability to become nearly unstoppable, and the Jazz may not have had a weapon of his caliber since the Stockton/Malone era. He’s now averaging 19.7 points per game and it likely will be 20-plus by season’s end.
“Spida,” as Michell refers to himself, is better than the likes of Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer, and the multitude of semi-stars the Jazz have rostered, and the Pacers are much about a young prospect of their own in what could be an exciting showdown between two of the league’s best-unheralded talents.
Former Orlando Magic point guard Elfrid Payton had largely disappointed, albeit with some bright flashes, in his tenure with Orlando, but one must wonder how the Suns were able to finagle a still-promising young guard for a second-round pick. In his stead, the Magic will start D.J. Augustin, as it searches for some continuity in the second half of yet another poor season. This will mark the sixth-straight season of playoff-less basketball for Orlando, and beyond Payton’s departure, Magic fans also have to stomach the fact another player from the rebuild (Victor Oladipo) is now an All-Star for the Indiana Pacers.
Tobias Harris was recently dealt again after Orlando swapped him to Detroit, but he was used in obtaining NBA All-Star Blake Griffin. And so, from Orlando’s talented trio of Payton, Oladipo, and Harris, the returns in total have equated to a half-season rental of Serge Ibaka, a second-round pick, and two players which were cut from the roster (Ersan Ilyasova and Brandon Jennings). The Magic, meanwhile, have only that second round pick and Terrence Ross to show from a starting lineup that had posted a 19-13 record before a disastrous January which led to the Harris deal.
Gone also from that team is its head coach Scott Skiles, who led Orlando to 35-wins that season only to ultimately just retire mid-contract and the end of the season. From this, current head coach Frank Vogel leads a rather mosh-mashed amalgam of a talentless roster that should have no problem descending to the cellar of the East, especially since Orlando only is a half-game ahead of the woeful Hawks for that dubious distinction as of today.
Orlando is “Pure Tragic,” and ineptitude from both former GM Rob Hennigan and what looks to be worse mistakes still from John Hammond, are entirely to blame. The instability of the Magic organization is something that could maybe have been sensed from the ugly circumstances surrounding the “Dwightmare,” but few thought his exit would lead to over a half-decade of NBA purgatory.
The 2018 NBA Draft should hold some promise for Orlando, but little on its current roster offers that same token. Perhaps 2017 No. 6 overall pick Jonathan Isaac will pan out, but he has spent the majority of this season injured after a strong showing in the Orlando summer league. Jonathon Simmons has panned out nicely, and Mario Hezonja is recently showing some signs, but Hezonja is a free agent at season’s end, and many feel he is unlikely to return.
Doing the math, it is possible that Isaac is the only lottery pick outside of star forward Aaron Gordon who is with the team next season. Gordon is probably the only player on Orlando’s roster with actual trade value, but that makes him even less likely to be dealt. Meanwhile, Orlando will simply try to get the highest return as it holds a fire sale on the veterans it has.
Veterans Nikola Vucevic or Evan Fournier could be the next moved, but neither likely offers the return in trade value that fans would like to assume they do. In short, the Magic are really still at ground zero post-Dwight, despite six long years of trying to improve that status. The Magic will be active this summer, but it’s tough to say what their agenda is outside of re-signing restricted free agent Aaron Gordon.