Orlando Magic - Believing in Magic
Last Year’s Record: 40-42
Key Losses: Grant Hill, Darko Milicic, Travis Diener
Key Additions: Rashard Lewis, Adonal Foyle, Marcin Gortat
1. What significant moves were made during the offseason?
It was an extremely active summer for the Magic, as it added a maximum contract player and a brand new head coach. Stan Van Gundy was hired after the Billy Donovan fiasco, and will replace Brian Hill. Van Gundy is a successful head coach in the NBA and should implement an up-tempo offense while still preaching defensive intensity. Van Gundy will have SF Rashard Lewis to help pick up the offense. Lewis was signed to a $118 million contract and is expected to add some perimeter help for a team that desperately lacked a true scorer last year. Orlando also added Adonal Foyle to lessen the blow of loosing Darko Milicic. Foyle should add some depth and toughness down low for the Magic, and will be an even bigger factor with the loss of Tony Battie.
2. What are the team’s biggest strengths? Obviously when talking about the Magic’s strengths, you have to mention Dwight Howard. He is already the best rebounder in the league, the most athletic big man around and appears to have developed a nice array of low-post moves in the offseason. Orlando has one of the most versatile team’s in the NBA and is very tough defensively. Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu and Trevor Ariza can all play the 2-4 spots, and they should cause significant match up problems.
3. What are the team’s biggest weaknesses? Right now, the team has several weaknesses, most notably at the 2 and 4 spots. There is no player establishing himself right now to take over as the starting shooting guard. J.J Redick had some impressive moments in the offseason, but a hand injury slowed him down and he will likely be fighting for time. Ariza has also missed time this preseason and he will have to battle for time. Keith Bogans didn’t impress much in the offseason, so there is still a big question there. With Tony Battie out, the Magic is thinner at a position it was already weak at. Foyle will now be relied on to step up and log some big minutes. Pat Garrity, James Augustine and Marcin Gortat will also be expected to help out Howard down low, but none may not be up to the challenge.
4. What are the goals for this team? Last year Orlando broke into the postseason with a 40-42 record, and was then swept by the Pistons. While Orlando has a nice amount of talent, it would be a little overzealous to say they are competing for the title. Instead, I’ll say the Magic would be thrilled to get some valuable playoff experience and learn how to win. Getting home court advantage for the first round will be big for the team as well. Summed up, a reasonable goal for the Magic will be to win the Southeast Division and advance into the second round of the playoffs, setting up the team for a big run two years from now.
5. What each player needs to improve on to turn Orlando into a contender.
Dwight Howard, PF/C- His offensive improvement this offseason has been incredible. He is making free-throws now and is scoring in a variety of ways. In order for him to become the best center in the league, he will need to keep this up, and I’d also like to see him become a shutdown defender in the post.
Rashard Lewis, SF/PF- I think the team is hoping he can pick up the intensity on defense. We already know he can score, and Coach Van Gundy will probably be satisfied if he isn’t a liability on defense.
Jameer Nelson PG- All he needs to do is stay turnover free and give the ball to the right guys at the right time. If Nelson can keep his turnovers below 2.5 per game while uping his assists to 8, that would be perfect.
Hedo Turkoglu SF/PF- He has done exactly what he has needed in recent years, scoring in a multitude of ways and playing wherever the team has needed him. Now he will likely play down low a little more with the injury to Battie and he will now have to show toughness.
J.J Redick SG- With his disappointing rookie season, Orlando will need Redick to step up as a scorer. 14-16 PPG would be huge. He doesn’t need to do much, just hit open threes when given the chance.
Adonal Foyle C- He will not be relied on to score much, so the Magic will ask him to stay out of foul trouble and play tough down low, protecting Howard.
Trevor Ariza SG/SF/PF- Two things…shooting and health. He must stay injury free and develop a jump shot. If those two things happen, there is little doubt in my mind that Ariza will be an All-Star real soon.
Keyon Dooling PG/SG- Like Turkoglu, Dooling has done everything the team has asked him to do. It might be too late in his career to expand his offensive game, but if he can knock down the trey regularly, that will do wonders for this high energy defender.
Carlos Arroyo PG- Similar problems to Nelson, Arroyo must play within the system but not change too much. More assists and fewer turnovers are a must.
Pat Garrity PF- He has always been a liability on defense, but Garrity still gives it his all. After a major injury to his groin a few years ago, Garrity lost his ability to shoot the ball. Now he is starting to find his stroke, and that’s all the Magic needs him to do.
Marcin Gortat PF/C- A rookie, he will be asked to play within the system and run the floor and put up some points. He must show good defensive skills and toughness to make a difference.
Keith Bogans SG/SF- He has long been a good defender who can hit the open shot. He is decent at everything but not great at pone particular thing. The Magic needs him to step up his overall game and intensity.
James Augustine PF/C- Augustine has done a decent job on the boards so far this preseason and will hope to continue that as the season progresses. From what I’ve seen, Augustine needs to show some intensity and toughness if he wants to contribute for Orland, and the team definitely needs him.
Predicted Record 48-34