Position: Small forward.
Who's the starter: Maurice Harkless.
Why he's starting: Harkless, 20, is at the heart of the Magic's player-development plans. He is the team's youngest player – and one of its most athletic. He played just one season at St. John's and was drafted by Philadelphia last June, but was dealt by the 76ers to Orlando in the massive Dwight Howard trade.
The question is, what can Harkless mean to the Magic's future? There still are more baby steps to be taken, still a ways for him to go.
As a rookie, Harkless show more glimpses of promise on the defensive end, blocking three of Carmelo Anthony's shots in one game. He averaged 8.2 points and 4.4 rebounds, playing in 76 games with 59 starts.
The Magic brought him along slowly, starting training-camp invitee DeQuan Jones to begin the season. Harkless eventually worked his way into the lineup. He then returned to the bench for a stretch, but regained the job to play major minutes after the all-star break.
Harkless scored in double figures in 27 of the Magic's final 37 games, including a 28-point effort against the Houston Rockets in which he made 8 of 10 shots.
He added muscle during the offseason and is still growing, the club listing him at 6-feet-9 – an inch taller than last year.
Who are the backups: Tobias Harris would be Harkless' back-up if Harris doesn't start at power forward. Harris was an impressive scorer after arriving last February from the Milwaukee Bucks in the J.J. Redick deal, averaging 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds in 27 games. Rookie Romero Osby, a second-round pick, could provide depth if he makes the team.
Afflalo could also move to small forward at times, especially if Oladipo plays the shooting-guard position.
Who has played this position first: Jerry "Ice" Reynolds started at small forward in the Magic's first season in 1989. Reynolds played four seasons in Orlando, averaging 13.9 points.
Who else has played this position: Dennis Scott provided brilliant 3-point shooting during the Magic's heydays in the mid-90s, playing off Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway. Drafted in 1990, he was nicknamed "3-D" for his long-range prowess and still holds the franchise career record for 3-point field goals made (981).
Hedo Turkoglu developed into a solid player in Orlando after stints in Sacramento and San Antonio. He earned the NBA's Most Improved Player award in 2007-08 and helped lead the Magic into the Finals in 2009. Turkoglu, 34, was beset by injuries and a 20-game steroid suspension last season. He is still on the Magic's roster, but not active as he and the team look to strike a buy-out agreement.
Mike Miller, a former Florida Gator, was named the NBA's Rookie of the Year in 2000. Miller won two championships with the Miami Heat and currently is with the Memphis Grizzlies, his second stint with the club.
The Magic had plans to make Grant Hill their greatest small forward after acquiring him in the summer of 2000 from the Detroit Pistons, but an ankle injury kept Hill sidelined most of his seven-year stay. Hill was voted into one All-Star Game, but was at his healthiest in Phoenix, enjoying a career rebirth. He retired after playing last season with the Los Angeles Clippers.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun