The losses just keep piling up for the Magic, and the season hasn’t even started yet. It was bad enough having to fire Stan Van Gundy, who is undoubtedly one of the game’s best strategic minds, because of some overblown drama caused by a petulant star. It was even worse having to trade Dwight Howard (petulant or not, the best defensive player in the league) for an overpaid shooting guard and receive no franchise altering pieces, draft picks or substantial salary relief in return. But, now? Et tu, Gustavo Ayon?
Gustavo Ayon alone going down for a few weeks with a sprained left thumb isn’t the iceberg to the Magic’s ship — it’s more like one of the lifeboats sinking. Ayon was a pleasant surprise last year for the Hornets, and is a joy to watch sneak around the baseline with clever little duck-ins and good instincts around the rim. He’s an energy guy who works hard and plays smart, and that’s something that can be cherished in what’s almost certain to be a really, really bad season for the Magic overall.
It certainly doesn’t help that the Magic are dangerously thin up front as is. Everyone’s favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle lookalike, Al Harrington, is already out for the first few weeks of season with a knee injury. Same goes for rookie forward Moe Harkless, who is sidelined with a sports hernia.
That leaves the frontcourt duties to (gulp) Glen Davis, Andrew Nicholson, Josh McRoberts and Nikola Vucevic — not exactly a quartet that strikes fear into the hearts of their opponents. Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu aren’t exactly nails as perimeter defenders, either, so we could be looking at a team defense that reaches all-time levels of bad. Ayon could have at least mitigated some of the damage early on, but just like Orlando’s hopes of being competitive, that will have to wait.