On Friday, the Orlando Magic officially announced Frank Vogel’s hiring as the team’s new head coach. After previous coach Scott Skiles unexpectedly resigned on May 12 after only one season, the Magic went ahead in their search for a new coach who can hopefully help lead the team back to the playoffs for the first time since 2012.
Frank Vogel, whose contract wasn’t renewed by Indiana Pacers’ president Larry Bird after the team’s first round exit against the Toronto Raptors, wasted no time in landing his next head coaching job. Vogel is the perfect man to help lead this young Magic team, which in some ways resemble the Pacers team he took over midway through the 2010-2011 season.
Within Vogel’s second full season as the Pacers coach, he turned Paul George and Roy Hibbert into All-Stars and All-Defensive Team candidates, and by his third season at the helm, turned Lance Stephenson into a triple-double threat. He can likely have that same effect on this young Magic team, who unlike the Pacers team he originally took over, the core players have already played at least a season together already.
The Magic are filled with young, athletic, versatile players who can all fill multiple roles for the team when needed, and Frank Vogel will look to get the most out of them.
Victor Oladipo is a supremely athletic combo guard with great leaping ability who excels at driving to the basket and attacking the rim, with the ability to defend both guard positions. Elfrid Payton, whose jump shot has improved since being drafted in 2014, but is still a work in progress, is a disciplined defender with quick hands and decent passing and rebounding skills, as shown by the three triple-doubles he recorded last season.
Nikola Vucevic is a skilled low post scorer with range that expands to beyond the free throw line area and is one of the best rebounders in the NBA, averaging 10+ rebounds in three of the four seasons since being traded to Orlando. While he is not the interior defender he has the potential to be, Vogel can put him in positions to do just fine on that end of the court. Similar with Aaron Gordon, whose incredible athleticism and leaping ability can sometimes overshadow his defensive struggles. However, he does have the quickness and wingspan to be a plus defender.
With other young players, such as Mario Hezonja, Andrew Nicholson, and the No. 11 pick of this year’s draft coming off the bench and a core of players no older than 26 years of age, this is a team ready to make that leap back into the playoffs.
According to NBA.com, Frank Vogel’s teams have been in the top 10 in defensive efficiency and top six in opponent field goal percentage in all five of his full seasons as head coach. Meanwhile, the Magic have been in the bottom half of both categories in four out of five years during that same time span. Vogel is a proven coach who has shown the ability to get the most out of his players, especially on the defensive side of the court, which is what this Magic team needs most.
The Orlando Magic went and got themselves arguably the best coach out on the market, so expect to see the benefits of the hire almost immediately. Don’t be surprised to possibly see the Magic return to the playoffs for the first time since 2012. This young team is fired up and ready and so is Frank Vogel.
Spark Sports NBA Analyst