Originally posted on Stepien Rules  |  Last updated 9/25/12

Over the next couple weeks, we will be projecting who finishes where in the Eastern Conference this season. From last place to first, yesterday was the Charlotte Bobcats, today the Orlando Magic.

#14: Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic have officially gone from one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, to one of the worst. All because of one player: Dwight Howard. Unlike Lebron James, Howard allowed the Magic time to trade him because he eventually said he was not going to re-sign with them. Because of this, the Magic received a couple players and some first round picks as compensation for Howard in a multi-team trade. Unfortunately, the Magic will be in rebuilding mode for many seasons to come.

Although Orlando may have their core group of players back outside of Howard, losing the best big man in the game will make it a very long season for the Magic and their fans. Howard not only averaged a double-double, but he was also always one of the top defensive players in the game for the past few years.

But onto the current team, Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu will have to carry this team in order for them to win some games this year. Although they are capable of doing so, the rest of the supporting cast is not the greatest.

According to ESPN, the Magic projected starting lineup is:

PG: Jameer Nelson
SG: Arron Afflalo
SF: Hedo Turkoglu
PF: Glen Davis
C: Gustavo Ayon

Honestly, I do not see where they can score enough points with this starting lineup to compete with most teams in the NBA. Also, now that they do not have the big man in the middle of the paint, teams will now be able to score against them a lot easier than before. I do not see this team winning more than 16-17 games this season.

For the Magic, trading Howard because he was not going to re-sign with the team at the end of the season was a very smart decision because it allowed them to receive something in return. Unfortunately, they still will not be a playoff team for many years to come. With Nelson, they have a solid point guard that they can start building around with all of their first round draft picks they have in the coming years. In Turkoglu they have a veteran leader who can teach the young guys that they draft how to play the game at the top level. It is amazing how a team can go from top to bottom during one off-season, but that is exactly what has happened to the Orlando Magic.

Josh Poloha is a Senior at The Ohio State University and our newest contributor here at StepienRules.com. Per Josh: I love my Cleveland sports teams and Ohio State! It would be my dream to be involved with and work in sports for the rest of my life! Follow me on Twitter: @JorshP! You can also contact me at poloha.1 [at] osu.edu. 

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