The Orlando Magic are ruining their own chances of landing a franchise-transforming star in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Welcome to the Orlando Sports Weekly Rundown, I'm David Baumann.
After hitting dead last in the NBA Standings near the midway point in the season, all the Orlando Magic needed to do was to keep losing games.
But they've foolishly started winning again.
They've won six of their last 12 games.
And they're about to get more firepower with the anticipated returns of their two best players.
Starting center Nik Vucevic (left hand) and power forward Aaron Gordon (hip flexor) could be back in that lineup any day now.
That's problematic because the more games the Magic win from here on out... The more it HURTS their chances of landing a stud in the coming NBA Draft.
In fact, if the season were to end today, the Magic would ONLY have a 29.1% chance of landing a Top-3 pick in the coming Draft and only an 8.8% chance of landing the #1 overall pick.
By comparison, if the Magic were to finish dead last in the NBA standings -- that would give them a 64.3% chance of landing a Top-3 pick and a 25% chance of landing the #1 pick.
I'd much rather have those odds.
Take a look at the further breakdown, courtesy of Tankathon.com:
Orlando Magic In Search Of New Point Guard After Trading Elfrid Payton
Atlanta, Sacramento, Phoenix, and Dallas are all now in better position than Orlando for the chance to draft Arizona's center DeAndre Ayton, European small forward Luka Doncic, Duke power forward Marvin Bagley III, Texas center Mo Bamba, Mizzou forward Michael Porter Jr., or Oklahoma point guard Trae Young.
There is a clear hole at the point guard position on the Magic roster now after the team recently traded former 1st-round (10th overall) pick Elfrid Payton to the Phoenix Suns for a bag of potato chips.
That's why I think it's clearly Trae Young who the Magic desperately need, but there's a growing chance the Magic won't get him.
Some mock drafts have the Steph-Curry-like guard going in the Top 4, some have him going around #6.
So the only solution for the Magic -- in order to MAKE SURE they get their much-needed, fortune-shifting star via the draft -- is to tank.
I've been saying 'tank' for a while, but I've got to say it again because the Magic won't listen to reason.
You've got to lose to get better.
You might be saying, "But Dave, the players aren't going to lose on purpose."
And you'd be right.
That's why it's up to the front office to shut down the team's top players sooner than later.
Don't rush back Gordon.
Don't rush back Vuc.
And shut down Evan Fournier entirely sooner than later, just like how Phoenix shelved their top player (Eric Bledsoe) for the final 14 games last year.
And just like how the Lakers shut down $136 million worth of their players last year (D'Angelo Russell, Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov).
(It should certainly be noted that both Phoenix and the L.A. Lakers ended up in better draft position than the Magic last year because of their commitment to tanking.)
If the Magic don't all-out tank, just like they didn't last year or the years before, they'll be more likely to end up with yet another potential bust of a draft pick.
There are 27 games left to play.
And there's really nothing left worth writing about this season because the playoffs are out-of-the-question, so we'll revisit this column once the regular season comes to a conclusion.
We'll see what sort of odds the Magic end up with.
David Baumann is a Sports Columnist for 407area.com and can be heard Tuesdays from 7-9pm on EK Sports, 96.9 The Game. He can be seen on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30pm on Spectrum Sports 360's Face Off segment on Spectrum News 13, HD channel 1013.