Orlando Magic preview 2012: Rebuilding effort begins

Spruce Derden-US PRESSWIRE

The Magic have a new look after trading Dwight Howard to the Lakers.

The Orlando Magic are coming off a playoff appearance, but now that center Dwight Howard gone, the team has shifted into rebuilding mode. SB Nation's Tom Ziller isn't optimistic about what the Magic will be able to accomplish in 2012-13, though he does not expect the team to reach the depths of futility exemplified by the Bobcats last season.

One of the concerns Ziller has about Orlando is its defense. If the Magic fall well out of contention this season, Ziller fears that will affect their mindset and their effort at the defensive end, which will further contribute to a poor year:

[Arron] Afflalo is a good defender. [Gustavo] Ayon is a decent defender. [Nikola] Vucevic should be a good defender. At small forward, Moe Harkless might be a good defender. But this team is almost assuredly going to stink defensively. Bad teams tend to get worse on defense as the stakes decrease. Defense is partially talent and physical attributes (length, athleticism, agility), but in the NBA, effort and determination and will are huge factors. When you're 15 games out of the No. 8 seed, effort and determination and will suffer.

Orlando finished seventh in the NBA in points allowed per game last season. Howard, who is now a Los Angeles Laker, averaged more than 10 defensive rebounds and two blocks per game for Orlando during 2011-12.

The Magic are just 2-5 in the preseason, and they have one more exhibition game to play before opening up their regular season against the Denver Nuggets on Nov. 2.

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