Evan Dunlap from Orlando Pinstriped Post broke down what is going on in O-town this season. Check it:
Two part Arron Afflalo question to kick things off: Is he an All-Star his year and will he be traded?
I think Afflalo merits All-Star consideration for sure. His combination of volume scoring and above-average efficiency means a lot for this Magic team that doesn't otherwise have much of either attribute on its roster, and its lack of success with him sidelined with a sprained foot attests to his importance. However, I'm not sure he's a lock to make the All-Star team. For one thing, Orlando stinks, and coaches are often loathe to select players from losing teams, no matter how deserving the players are on merit. For another, Afflalo faces competition for an All-Star spot from other players from winning teams, such as Toronto Raptors two-guard DeMar DeRozan and Indiana Pacers swingman Lance Stephenson. In a vacuum, he's a better player than those two, but I'm not sure the coaches will agree with me.
As far as trading him goes, I'm not certain dealing him is a priority for Orlando. He's paid fairly, is still reasonably young (28), and is a good influence in the locker room. The Magic might find a more valuable deal for Afflalo closer to the Draft. If they move him, that's when I think it'll be.
Early on it looks to be a two-man race for rookie of the year between Victor Oladipo and Michael Carter-Williams, what's the case for Oladipo?
I think Carter-Williams is a more deserving Rookie of the Year candidate, and I expect he'll win it. If I had to make a case for Oladipo, I'd point toward the higher degree of difficulty he's faced in his rookie year. Not only is he playing out of position, but he's doing so at the sport's toughest position to play. On top of that, the Magic haven't exactly given him the keys the same way Philadelphia's given Carter-Williams the same. Carter-Williams has more freedom and more opportunities to put up those big numbers, and while I don't want to take anything away from him--he's exceeded every reasonable expectation anyone could have had of him, especially given his dreadful performance in the Orlando Pro Summer League--there is something to be said for Oladipo's performance, given his learning curve.
Follow up Oladipo question. He's played some point and two guard but always seemed like more of a natural two. Does that seem to be the case and can he develop into a point guard?
Long term, I think Oladipo projects as a ball-dominant shooting guard as opposed to point guard. Sure, the nature of the latter position is changing, but there are still some fundamental skills--like court vision, handling, and passing instincts--that every floor general must have, and I'm not certain Oladipo will ever acquire them, as he's only just now playing the position.
However, I do think he can become an above-average playmaker as a shooting guard, which is why I'm on board with the Magic's decision to really challenge him at the point in his rookie season.
Is there a general consensus on what college prospect would be the best fit for this team?
I don't think so, no. The Magic need talent at every position, and I fully expect Rob Hennigan to select the best player available, regardless of position, once he's on the clock in June. I think Magic fans like Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker the most, but there's also a contingent that believes strongly that Orlando must pick a point guard, with many members of that group advocating for Marcus Smart.
I'm not too caught up on the Draft right now, honestly. The college kids haven't played too many games yet, so it's tough to assess them at this point in their season. But certainly Magic fans have their eye on the NCAA.
Are there any players on the roster that are untouchable, or what players are key pieces for the future?
With a team this bad, no one's truly untouchable. In the right trade--one that returns a young, All-Star-caliber player on a max or near-max contract--I think any Magic player can be had. But some are more valuable than others, for sure. I'd point toward Oladipo and Nikola Vučević as the closest players Orlando has to untouchable. Tobias Harris would cost a pretty penny as well. Those three, in my estimation, are the Magic's core pieces. Orlando likes its other young guys, like Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson, but they're expendable in the right deal. Everyone is.
A huge thanks to Evan and the crew covering the Magic. Be sure to follow Evan on twitter at @BQRMagic. He's a great follow for all NBA related tweets. Check out the Orlando Pinstriped Post blog throughout the season for great Magic coverage.