2010-2011 Season Preview: Orlando Magic

Overview

Basically, it comes down to this:

  • The Magic were one of the three best teams in the NBA last season
  • They took the Celtics to 6 games in the Eastern Conference Finals
  • They’re strong in areas that the Heat are not
  • They’re youthful in ways that the Celtics are not
  • Dwight Howard may well be better than he was last year

Roster

Name Pos Yrs 2009-10 Stats
Malik Allen* F 9 2.1 PPG, 2.9 RPG
Ryan Anderson F 2 7.7 PPG, 2.9 RPG
Brandon Bass F 5 5.8 PPG, 2.5 RPG
Vince Carter G 12 16.6 PPG, 3.1 APG
Chris Duhon* G 6 7.4 PPG, 5.1 APG
Marcin Gortat C-F 3 3.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG
Dwight Howard C 6 18.3 PPG, 13.2 RPG
Rashard Lewis F 12 14.1 PPG, 4.4 RPG
Jameer Nelson G 6 12.6 PPG, 5.4 APG
Daniel Orton* C R
Mickael Pietrus G-F 7 8.7 PPG, 2.9 RPG
J.J. Redick G 4 9.6 PPG, APG
Quentin Richardson G-F 10 8.9 PPG, 5.0 RPG
Jason Williams G 11 6.0 PPG, 3.6 APG

* New to team

Head Coach: Stan Van Gundy
Assistant Coaches: Brendan Malone, Patrick Ewing, Steve Clifford, Bob Beyer, Ahmad Ajami

Meaningful Offseason Moves

  • Signed Chris Duhon for 4-years, $15 million
  • Re-signed Jason Williams for 1-year, veteran’s minimum
  • Released Matt Barnes
  • Signed Quentin Richardson for 4-years, $10 million
  • Matched Chicago’s 3-year, $20 million offer sheet, kept J.J. Redick
  • Drafted Daniel Orton and Stanley Robinson

Why the Magic are Contenders

To a certain extent, this section could be called ‘Is there any reason the Magic shouldn’t be contenders.’ This is a squad who went to the Eastern Conference Finals last season for the second consecutive year. They won the Southwest division last year while averaging 102.8 PPG (6th best in the NBA) and holding their opponents to 95.3 PPG (4th best in the NBA).

It’s also a team that features Dwight Howard, arguably the best overall Center in the league. Last season he led the league in rebounds per game (13.2 – a full 1.4 better than Marcus Camby), blocks per game (2.78) and Field Goal percentage (.612%).

The Magic head into this season with nearly the same set of components as they had last year, so the real question is if the changes made by the Heat and the Celtics were meaningful enough to knock the Magic out of contention.

It’s a good question. I feel like a potential downside for the Magic is that they struggled to develop a meaningful second threat to compliment Howard. Anyone who watched the Celtics/Magic conference finals knows very well that Vince Carter failed to step up when given his opportunity. It’s difficult to imagine that Chris Duhon or Quentin Richardson could suddenly become *that* guy, but who knows. It’s a lot easier to improve your game when you’ve got a powerful Center playing for you, and it’s also important to remember that Howard may in fact be even better this year from last.

Specifically, the one weaker-ish piece to his arsenal last season was in the points per game department. He averaged 18.3 PPG, which means he was only the 26th overall offensive leader, and was actually behind three other centers (Lee, Lopez, Kaman) in that category.

As I posted about earlier, Howard connected with Hakeem Olajuwon over the summer with the particular focus of trying to develop his post steps so that he could get to the basket more cleanly than before. This really impressed me, as I feel like the one center of recent years who could actually improve his game, it was Hakeem the Dream. If anything of those sessions sticks with Howard’s game, look out.

The top of the Eastern conference got a lot more complicated this offseason, and it’s probably safe to say that the one key thing the Magic has against it right now is that there aren’t multiple top flight players lining their box scores. That may be prove to be the thing that keeps the Magic out of the Finals, but if Dwight Howard actually improves from last year, there isn’t anyone out there who will be able to stop him.

Video

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~ by djepperson on October 25, 2010.

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