From playoff hopefuls to lottery picks, Magic’s season has been perfect

Running to the typewriter…

First of all, let me stress that I am absolutely NOT comparing the 2023 Orlando Magic to the 1972 Miami Dolphins, but I think it’s been a “perfect” season for the Magic.

Bianchi, moron, the Magic are 13 games under .500 and have the league’s fifth-worst record. How can you say that this season has been perfect?!!!

Because I’m not talking about a perfect season by Boston Celtics standards; I’m talking about a perfect season by Orlando Magic standards.

Whether intentional or not, the Magic have choreographed masterfully this season. They’ve walked that fine line between flirting with the playoffs and falling in the lottery. They’ve played meaningful games for much of the season to develop their young players and keep their fan base engaged, but now they’re almost certainly a lottery team and currently reportedly have a 10.5% chance of landing the No. No. 1 (7-foot-5 French phenom Victor Wembanyama).

Philosophically, I’m anti-tank, but with the Magic five games out of the play-in with only nine games left, I’m putting my stamp of approval on some late-season, short-term tank work – aka “Wither for Wembanyama”.

Before the season I wrote that the Magic shouldn’t be expected to make the playoffs this year or even the play-ins, but what we should expect is that they “are making meaningful progress and giving hope to their beleaguered fan base. ”

Mission accomplished.

First draft pick Paolo Banchero will almost certainly be the NBA’s Rookie of the Year and sophomore forward Franz Wagner is also a potential star in the making. The Magic also have other good young players (see Wendell Carter Jr., Markelle Fultz, etc.), two first-round draft picks (their own and one they acquired from Chicago in the Vooch trade), and a maximum ceiling flexibility.

Although the Magic have the fifth-worst record in the league, the fanbase certainly seems to be buying. Last year the Magic ranked 26th in the league in total attendance and this year they are 15th.

As for next year, it will be playoffs or a bust, but for now the Magic are exactly where they need to be – with immense hope for the future and two potential lottery picks in the upcoming draft. …

Short tips: Now that Japan have beaten USA in the World Baseball Classic, I say we challenge them to a rematch in the World Football Classic!!! … And speaking of the World Baseball Classic, it may not have created much buzz in America, but it has been a worldwide phenomenon for Major League Baseball. Although official TV figures are not yet available, Tuesday night’s Japan-USA final was expected to be the world’s most-watched baseball game in history with around 75% of Japanese households tuning in. . For comparison, about 40% of American households tuned in to watch the Super Bowl between the Chiefs and Eagles. I guess you could say that America’s national pastime has become Japan’s national passion. …

A moment of silence, please: Willis Reed went to That Big Game 7 in the Sky. It was an injured Reed, as the Associated Press eloquently wrote in its obituary, who became a legendary sports figure when he limped dramatically from the Madison Square Garden locker room “minutes before Game 7 from the 1970 NBA Finals to spur the New York Knicks to their first championship and create one of sports’ most enduring examples of playing through pain. And now, fast forward 50 years to the Big Apple, where Kyrie Irving missed almost an entire season because he wouldn’t get pricked with a needle. … One last thing on Willis Reed: What if he had played in Atlanta instead of New York and propelled the Hawks to a championship? Would he be a legend today or just a footnote? …

As David Whitley of the Gainesville Sun writes: David Venci, a Czech freeform diver, “set a world record by taking a deep breath and diving 170.9 feet below a frozen lake in Switzerland. When he emerged after 1 minute and 54 seconds, he coughed up blood, sat up and opened a bottle of champagne. In related news, MLS players released a statement that read, “What’s the matter? We do dozens of dives every week and the only thing we bleed is our integrity. … Speaking of dives, what happened to Hoops Tavern near the old Amway Arena? … Did you see Arkansas coach Eric Mussellman take off his jersey to celebrate the Hogs’ upset against defending national champion Kansas on Saturday? It was much more palatable than Rick Pitino, who took his pants off in celebration when he was in Louisville. … Alabama suspended first-year defensive back Tony Mitchell was driving over 141 mph while trying to evade deputies before his arrest for marijuana in the Florida Panhandle last week. Hey, this guy shouldn’t be playing for Nick Saban, he should be driving for Rick Hendrick. …

Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard resigned in the middle of a city council meeting earlier this week after saying fellow council members voted to “recklessly” spend $90 million on a new city hall. “Just because you have money doesn’t mean you have to spend it,” Hibbard told a local TV station. Obviously, with such financial responsibility, Hibbard could never be a college athletic director. … Did you know retired NFL tough JJ Watt is a huge Taylor Swift fan? I always imagined him more like a guy from Five Finger Death Punch. …I’m a little confused as to why actress Gwyneth Paltrow is on trial this week for allegedly skiing “out of control” and ramming a man on the slopes of Park City, Utah. I always thought that being out of control and crashing into things was part of the snow skiing experience. … UCF football coach Gus Malzahn says there will be legitimate quarterback competition this spring, which will include outgoing starter John Rhys Plumlee, second returning student Thomas Castellanos and transfer of USF Timmy McClain. If you think anyone other than JRP will start the season opener, I have a ski resort in Mount Dora that I will sell to you.

Last word: “Reinstatement of Calvin Ridley by the NFL sponsored by FanDuel.” — The

Email me at Join me on Twitter @BianchiWrites and listen to my radio show Open Mike every weekday from 6am-9:30am on FM 96.9, AM 740 and HD 101.1-2


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