Magic reaction: Basketball Prospectus tabs Orlando for 13th-place Eastern Conference finish

Greg Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Basketball Prospectus author Bradford Doolittle isn't optimistic about Arron Afflalo and the Orlando Magic in 2012-13.

After an offseason of overturn and change, the Orlando Magic head into the 2012-13 season with Arron Afflalo leading the charge. But the haul the Magic received in return for trading superstar forward Dwight Howard away isn't going to result in many wins, according to Basketball Prospectus.

Over at Orlando Pinstriped Post, the guys dissected the Magic's profile in the newest edition of the trustworthy season preview guide, and things don't look pretty. The newest edition predicts a 26-56 record, good enough for 13th in the Eastern Conference with the addition of Afflalo not building confidence.

[Bradford] Doolittle isn't terribly optimistic about Afflalo, the best player Orlando received in return for Howard, because Afflalo regressed significantly as a defender following a strong 2010/11 season, after which he secured a five-year contract worth $37.8 million.

In the written preview to go with the statistical information the Prospectus is best known for, Bradford Doolittle recognizes the Magic are at the start of a rebuilding phase, noting their relative youth (10th in the league) and middle of the road salary commitments down the road (16th — $128 million).

Bradford Doolittle, who authored the Prospectus chapter on Orlando, notes that trading Howard and hiring coach Jacque Vaughn were only the first steps for general manager Rob Hennigan to take as he reshapes the Magic: next is clearing more payroll and reloading with younger talent.

Doolittle and BP target rookie Andrew Nicholson as a key cog to the rebuilding effort.

"As the Magic searches for upside, complementary pieces, Nicholson is no sure bet," writes Doolittle, "but he's got a skill set to watch and the potential to be a sleeper surprise from the most recent draft class."

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