Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Orlando Magic Offseason Review

Prior to the 2009/2010 NBA season I had proclaimed amongst my circle of friends a bold predictions.

Orlando would
- Record the best regular season record
- Win an NBA championship

Dwight Howard would
- Win his first MVP
- Win his second DPOY (hereby making him the third player since the introduction of
DPOY in 1982 to win both awards in one year. The two others being Michael
Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon)

I was very high on Orlando at the time, clearly. My opinion had been that the finals against the Lakers in 2008/2009 was a lot closer then many people had thought. I felt they had all the tools to win it, unfortunately they were a big let down. They had unbelievable depth at every position and the type of game plan that wins championships. An above average point guard who could make shots, wings who could shoot and penetrate, power forwards who could spread the floor, and the most dominating defensive force in the league at C.

Here I am during the 2007/2007 season wearing a newly purchased Howard jersey.

Looking at why they came short in the 2009/2010 will explain why I see them taking a step back in 2010/2011.

Jameer Nelson is overrated. He is an above average point guard but not even in the second tier (or third maybe) For a team so offensively gifted his assist numbers are low, and other stats remain relatively unimpressive. Compare his numbers to Toronto Raptor's backup point guard Jarret Jack (who is not generally considered to be comparable to Nelson) and you might be surprised to see that Jack is actually statistically superior to Nelson. Additionally the guy did not block a single shot all of last season. I know he is short but come on man! I am sorry if I am going crazy on the hating, I think he is still a good point guard, just not great.

The wings were a big disappointment. Specifically Vince Carter, and Mickael Pietrus. Reddick was outstandingly mediocre but honestly not impressive either. I wont spend any time talking about how Reddick was decent, as a Raptor's fan I am more interested in talking about how Vince Carter sucks (evil laugh) It is just over for this guy. He is not a good player anymore. He has reverted to his jump shot lover affair he started in his latter years in Toronto and I doubt that will ever end. He received a jolt of life temporarily in NJ but is back to has returned to Orlando as 'Wince' Carter. Even if he has a boost of motivational energy he is too old to use it. Mickael Pietrus has been a player everyone has expected to take the next leap for awhile now. Sadly, is has never happened, the only thing he has increased is his cockiness. I find that annoying. Moving along.

Rashard Lewis, the most overpaid player in the NBA. This title was bearable prior to 2009/2010 due to his decent production. He fit the role in Orlando well. Last year he just sucked though. He declined in almost every important statistic, but none more important then 3 pointers made. I see this decline not as a anomaly but a trend in his production. His decline is going to be a big factor in wavering future.

Dwight Howard, what can I say. This guy is a beast and he needs to be put in the same category as Kobe and Lebron in terms of their effect on winning. The only way for Orlando to take the next step is for Howard to take the next step offensively. Will this happen? His training with the greatest center of all time Hakeem Olajuwon could help. If he can gain more confidence in the post (and skill) Orlando has a chance to prove me wrong. I am skeptical that he can really take a big leap in that area this year. Hopefully I am proven wrong since I have historically been a big support of Howard (see pic)

All in all, Orlando has done nothing to improve this offseason. They have added nobody and lost a very solid player in Matt Barnes. Additionally decline in the performances of Carter, and Lewis are expected. The east has improved, making winning even more difficult. Being in the southeast has become a lot tougher.
I see them as a tier 2 team in the east, with very slim hopes at winning a championship. Dwight Howard taking huge steps forward seems to be their only real hope at winning it all.

Offseason Grade - D- (They did nothing and lost Barnes)
2010/2011 Regular Season Record - 54 - 28 (Third in East)

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