Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Do you believe in Magic?

No? Well, you should.

The Orlando Magic, less than two months removed from a 4-1 loss to the LA Lakers in the NBA finals, are finally doing what we want to see from almost-champions - getting better. No cutting back financially, no getting young and aiming for 3 years from now, just good, old-fashioned improvement. And boy, is that working great.

The Magic's offseason can be summarized to this: Hedo Turkoglu, Courtney Lee, Rafer Alston and Tony Battie for Vince Carter, Ryan Anderson, Brandon Bass and Matt Barnes. While Hedo shined last year in the playoffs, he isn't as good as Toronto's 55 million, 5 year offer would suggest - basically, he's a 30 year old who gives you 15-17 points, 5 red 5 assists. Vince Carter - despite all his bad rep - gives you at least a 20, 5 and 5, and is better at creating his own shot. The only thing the Magic might miss Hedo is his playmaking abilities, but Carter is a very underrated passer, and with a healthy Jameer Nelson, they should be fine.

Apart from replacing their biggest offseason loss with a better player, the Magic addressed another problem: their dependence on Dwight Howard. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year averaged for 13.8 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game - the whole team, including Howard, averaged 43.25 and 5.35, meaning Howard accounted for loosely 32% of the team's rebonds, and 55% of their blocks. In fact, the Cleveland Cavaliers based their whole offensive scheme in the Eastern Finals on attacking Howard with the hope fouling him out, and opening the middle. Well, no more. with the signing of Brandon Bass, the Magic get a strong, defensive, rebounding PF to play with Howard in the frontcourt. This enables Rashard Lewis to move back to his more natural position at small forward, no longer needing to guard the Dirk Nowitzki's and Pau Gasol's of the world. Combined with the Magic re-signing Marcin Gortat - even though 34 million over 5 years for a career backup seems a bit much, Gortat could probably start for most NBA teams and has played very well in limited minutes - the Magic now have a very strong frontcourt.

With the newly acquired experience of playing in the finals, the NBA's most dominant defensive force, 4 all-stars, and maybe the deepest team in the league (the Magic are 2 deep at every position, though they could use a better backup point guard than Anthony Johnson - they reportedly went after CJ Watson before signing Barnes), the Magic will be force to be reckoned with next season. And in a league where we see players being moved around for financial relief on a daily basis, their effort to improve instead of standing pat and hoping for the best should be applauded.


  1. Anthony M BurrolaJuly 27, 2009 at 11:16 AM

    It's definitely a scary team on paper. They're now more traditional instead of revolutionary, too, which definitely gives warrant to anyone's claims that they might win this year.

    The sad part, however, is that when they're boasting the second best record in the Leastern Conference, we're probably going to have to see Vince Carter in an All-Star uniform again. ::sigh::

  2. Anthony M BurrolaJuly 28, 2009 at 12:32 PM

    FYI there's no point in me leaving comments if you're not going to respond. So here's me flipping you the bird, cool guy.

  3. I'm sorry, I really do try to respond, I just couldn't find anything to say - you basically agreed with what I wrote, then said you hated Carter... not much to add on that :)

    However, I will say that Vince deserved to be an all-star last season, and was snubbed only because coaches didn't want to have two all-stars from a crappy Nets team.