Detroit Pistons: The Orlando Magic’s offseason and how the Pistons match up

ORLANDO, FL - APRIL 12: Aaron Gordon
ORLANDO, FL - APRIL 12: Aaron Gordon /

After a season in which they won only 29 games, the Orlando Magic spent this past offseason building depth to improve their team.  We’ll look at how the Detroit Pistons match up.

After finishing in the bottom third in both offensive and defensive rating during the 2016-17 regular season, the Orlando Magic essentially decided to stand pat with their starting lineup this summer.  The Magic made no trades and no huge moves for a starter, but they did make several signings to ensure that their bench will be much improved in 2017-18. We’ll look at their summer and how they match up with the Detroit Pistons.

The Magic’s quest for a better bench began back in June when they drafted Jonathan Isaac with the sixth overall pick.  Isaac, a 6’10” forward, has the potential to be a terrific defender and finisher, but lacks the offensive skills to be a full-time wing.  Isaac was certainly a good selection at sixth overall, but his skill set is very similar to that of the Magic’s starting power forward Aaron Gordon, and it’s unlikely that Gordon and Isaac will see the floor together for any significant amount of minutes.

When July hit and free agency opened, the Magic replaced the rest of bench entirely.  They waived C.J. Watson and replaced him with Shelvin Mack, then signed Arron Afflalo to join Mack in the backcourt off the bench.  Later in July, they signed both Jonathon Simmons and Marreese Speights to join Isaac in the bench’s frontcourt.

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In 2017-18, the Detroit Pistons will look to improve against the Magic, having won only one of the four match ups between the two a year ago.


Any discussion of defending the Orlando Magic has to begin with slowing down their leading scorer from a year ago, shooting guard Evan Fournier.  Fournier is extremely skilled and a very good shooter.  Avery Bradley will undoubtedly be tasked with guarding Fournier.  If Bradley can at least slow Fournier down, the Magic’s offense becomes easier to defend.

Elfrid Payton runs the point for Orlando, but he’s more of a defensive threat than he is on the offensive end.  Payton is long and quick and has the potential to give Reggie Jackson some trouble.  Though the Magic weren’t a good defense last year, Payton’s ability to defend Jackson could make them a bit tougher match up for the Pistons than appears on the surface.


With no Serge Ibaka on the Magic’s roster this year, Nikola Vucevic should be the full-time starter at center.  Vucevic has the potential to give Andre Drummond trouble, as he can space the floor in the mid-range area.  Vucevic relies more on his skills than brute strength and can bring Drummond away from the hoop, where he often struggles to defend in space.

Aaron Gordon is an elite athlete at the power forward position, but his inability to space the floor provides some relief for a Detroit Pistons team who has struggled to defend small ball teams in the past.  Tobias Harris will have a quickness advantage when Detroit has the ball, and this should be an advantage that Detroit looks to exploit in their games against the Magic.


D.J. Augustin and Bismack Biyombo join the offseason additions to form a solid bench group for Orlando.  While the Magic have a bunch of solid players coming off the bench, they don’t have anyone that particularly scares you in game-planning against them.  Biyombo and Isaac could form a formidable defensive frontcourt, but Augustin and Afflalo are poor defenders who the Pistons can exploit.  When the benches are on the floor, look for Ish Smith and Langston Galloway to work hard to exploit their counter parts when the Pistons have the ball.

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The Magic aren’t likely to be a playoff team or even a whole lot better than they were in 2016-17, but Elfrid Payton and Nikola Vucevic do present unique match up problems for the Detroit Pistons that led to the Magic taking three of the four match ups last season.  Detroit will need strong play from their wings and bench if they are going to improve on that this coming season.