Xatticus wrote:Knightro wrote:The unexpected success of the 2018-2019 Magic completely changed the path of the organization and unfortunately it doesn't appear that's going to be in a good way in the long run.
But it's wasn't necessarily a black and white decision.
I can't imagine trying to tell Steve Clifford, his coaching staff and all the players who played so hard last year "hey guys, we know you increased your win total by 17 games, but we've decided to play the tanking game again without giving you the opportunity to build off what you accomplished."
Now obviously with benefit of hindsight (which is always 20/20), the Magic wouldn't have locked themselves into a team with such a low ceiling. But in the moment, that would have been a difficult sell.
This is what Gabriel did with the heart-and-hustle squad. He hired Rivers the year before and proceeded to strip the roster down in an effort to clear cap space and tank. We didn't get the high lottery pick because the team far exceeded expectations, but Gabriel didn't abandon his plans due to the unexpected success.
The lottery has always been an artificial floor. No matter how much you screw up, as long as you don't trade away your own picks, there is a built-in mechanism that prevents you from slipping into despair. There is no relegation and you get higher draft choices if everything goes pear-shaped. This should be liberating for GMs that are secure enough in their position to survive a dark period. It should afford them some measure of confidence to commit to the unknown. When Gabriel's plan imploded, for various reasons, we ended up back at the top of the lottery and the ashes of the McGrady era became the foundation of the team that ultimately reached the finals.
Look at Atlanta. Schlenk tore it all down and gave his coach a roster where he was forced to play the prospects. Some have thrived while others haven't, but at least they have learned a lot about what they have. They've continued to collect high-value assets along the way. They have their offensive engine and it will be so easy for them to augment their core and charge up the standings in the coming years. How far will they go? Who knows right now, but at least they have reason for optimism.
We've taken a completely different path. We've been reactionary. There might be some general principles involved, but there is no plan. They had years of data and film to pore over, but they let a late-season surge last year alter everything and proceeded to double down on what we know doesn't work. They hired a coach that tries to grind out wins by sucking the variance out of the game and they have placated him by stacking the roster with low-ceiling, try-hard journeymen that he doesn't have to teach. Now we are the Charlotte Magic.
It's just so difficult to be optimistic about this roster.
You missed the part where they got lucky in a historically great draft and ended up with Trae Young.
Orlando did try that strategy several years ago and ended up with a top pick in a fairly weak draft. Oladipo has had one outlier good year, but is no where near the kind of building block Trae is