If rebuilding is a headache, reality is a heartache.
The Magic are now suffering as expected.
Their 2-4 start, complete with a four-game losing streak, should not come as a surprise. Many more defeats are scheduled.
The Magic started 2-0, but this isn't "Hoosiers," "Rudy" or the "Do You Believe in Miracles?" hockey team.
Coach Jacque Vaughn and his players can talk all they want about Xs and Os, but it's not that complicated.
The Magic are merely reminding you that they don't have nearly enough talent. Everyone in the franchise knows it even if they can't say it for public consumption.
That said, some observations so far:
Double A: Arron Afflalo is a pretty nice player. Not an all-star, but a guy who can be a building piece, the third-best player on a contender. What I like most is that he'll get angry and throw some towels after a loss. I didn't see a lot of that during the giggling Dwight Howard era.
Big Go-To: Glen "Big Baby" Davis fancies himself as the go-to guy. But at his height (closer to 6-8), he gets too many attempts blocked. He can't force shots in the paint. Big Baby said he has talked to former Celtics teammate Kevin Garnett about being The Man. But he should already know that KG always has been criticized for not shooting enough. Like KG, Davis needs to learn to pick his spots (which means not firing a 3 late in a close Chicago game).
Developmental Squad: As another rookie, Vaughn is learning as he goes. Whether it's because of Vaughn or at GM Rob Hennigan's urging, the franchise has stayed true to a building process. Vaughn has started DeQuan Jones, and given Andrew Nicholson and Maurice Harkless playing time. We'll see what changes when Hedo Turkoglu returns.
Will Work For Points: The Magic are having trouble scoring. No revelation here. They lost their two top producers from last season — Howard and the overlooked Ryan Anderson. Howard overpowered foes for easy baskets, and Anderson led the NBA in 3-pointers made.
Slight Difference Between Vaughn And Stan Van Gundy: What's your reaction to Mike Brown's firing? Jacque: "No comment." Stan: "This is the most ridiculous firing in the history of the NBA."
Trivia Question To Stump Your Friends: Here's a good one at a Christmas cocktail party. Who is the Magic's highest-paid player? You can even give them a roster. Answer in a minute.
About Being 2-4: Other than a sorry loss at Minnesota (without Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio) the season is probably going the way it should. The Magic won their first two games at home. The Bulls are better than the Magic even without Derrick Rose. The playoff-bound Brooklyn Nets buried them, home and away.
Lock Him In The Weight Room and Throw Away The Key: Nik Vucevic.
Losing Is In The Big Picture: I've been on the lottery bandwagon, (even though folks in Magic management are not). Forget about losing enough to land the No. 1 pick — the lottery doesn't deliver. Aim for at least the top 5 or 6. Only three times since 1990 has the team with the worst record won the top pick. But with the No. 6 pick, Portland took point guard Damian Lillard, who might swipe the Rookie Of The Year trophy from Anthony Davis.
Not All Is Lost (At least we don't think): There are better days ahead, and maybe even over the next few weeks. The Magic will face Detroit, Toronto and Atlanta on the road, followed by a return home against the Pistons and Cleveland. Those opponents are more in their weight class.
The Answer: OK, the highest-paid player isn't on the Magic roster: It's amnesty casualty Gilbert Arenas. He is making $20 million this season and $22 million next season ….for not playing. Nice go-away pay.