In 2008-09 the Orlando Magic went to the NBA Finals just to lose in 5
games against the Los Angeles Lakers, so the expectations were pretty
high for last season. In the offseason, they decided to not give a
contract extension to Hedo Turkoglu and got involved in a trade with
the Nets receiving Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson.
The Magic gave up of one of their biggest mismatch advantages with
Hedo Turkoglu just to be more “conventional”, but the bread and butter
of the team was still the same: Dwight Howard and 3pts shooting!
Curiously they finished with the exact same record of the previous
season: 59-23, so they did not improve with the addition of Carter and
in the playoffs, we all know what happened to them against the Celtics.
Still there are some interesting considerations about the team:
1) The Orlando Magic have set a record for most 3-pointers in a
single season: 841! No one attempted more treys than the Magic, but by
hitting 37.5% of them (second best in the league) they were able to be a
2) They were indeed the most dominant team during the regular season
by ending with a league best +7.5 points per game differential and
+10.1 ratios at home! 38 of their 59 wins were by double digit points!
3) Their defensive power was notable: 4th in the league in points
per game allowed (95.1); best in points in the paint and fast break
points per game allowed (36.4 and 11.1 respectively) and best defensive
rebounding team in the league (grabbing 77.4% of the opportunities).
4) They finished the season winning 20 of the last 23 games and
swept their first two opponents (Charlotte and Atlanta) in the playoffs
by winning those games by a remarkable average of 17.25 points per
Then the Boston series happened and the Celtics took away the 2
strongest factors of the Magic: Howard and the treys. They were able to
defend one on one Howard and on the losses the Magic shot 5-22, 7-18,
8-30 and 6-22 behind the arc for a combined mark of 26-92 – just 28% and
the season was over for Orlando.
2009/10 Advanced Stats:
Pace 20th 94.7
Offense 5th 108.2
Defense 3rd 100.4
Rebounds 4th +3.23
Projected Depth Chart:
PG: Jameer Nelson, Chris Duhon, Jason Williams
SG: Vince Carter, J.J. Redick
SF: Mickael Pietrus, Quentin Richardson, Stanley Robinson
PF: Rashard Lewis, Ryan Anderson, Brandon Bass
C: Dwight Howard, Marcin Gortat, Daniel Orton
With their neighbors Miami taking the major spotlight in the offseason,
the Orlando Magic made some tweaks in their roster in order to improve
for this upcoming season.
However their magic equation remains the same: I don’t need to
mention for the third time Howard and the treys right? So, they decided
to improve their three points shooting and added Quentin Richardson and
Chris Duhon, while Matt Barnes was their only relevant loss.
Dwight Howard belongs to the elite of truly superstar players in the
game, but sometimes he doesn’t receive the proper greatness recognition
just because he isn’t an offensive lethal weapon like Kobe, Lebron,
Dirk or Wade are.
He is by far the best defensive player in the league and he has two
consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards to show it. He led the
league with 13.2 rebounds and 2.80 blocks per game, while the Magic are a
surebet to finish the season in the top defensive rankings with him
being the defensive anchor.
However the problematic surrounding his usage and play is on the
offensive end. Howard shot a career high 61.2% from the field, but that
was worth for only 18.3 points per game. Part of the reason is
naturally because of his poor free throw% numbers, as he hit only 59.2%
from the charity stripe, while attempting 10 free throws per game,
however it is his low Field Goal attempted numbers that is the biggest
reason for concern.
His 10.2 Field Goals attempted per game was Howard’s season low
since his rookie year and in several times, the Magic just ignore him in
down the stretch. Probably we will never see the Magic using Dwight
Howard like he was Shaquille O’Neal in his good old days, but still he
should receive more touches in the ball to create mismatches on the
Vince Carter was supposed to be the Magic’s X factor for this
season, but he was far from being effective. To expect a decrease in his
numbers were okay because by playing for a real contender team, he
would play less minutes, while sharing “his” shots with better
teammates. However Carter actually not only played less and attempted
fewer shots, but also he shot worse from the field and that was
problematic for the team. He had minor injuries during the season that
reduced his explosiveness and in order for the Magic to take the “next
step”, they need Carter to have a really bounce back season.
It may be strange to say, but the absence of Hedo Turkoglu hurt no
more than Point Guard Jameer Nelson. Turkoglu’s ability of being a Point
Forward took the pressure off from Nelson to be a traditional Point
Guard and Nelson went to the All Star game. However without the Turkish
player, Nelson’s numbers dropped dramatically in almost every single
category: Points per game (12.6); Field Goal percentage (44.9%); 3pts
percentage (38.1%) and even his assists per game numbers didn’t increase
despite the playmaker duty being greater than ever. Statistically
speaking, Nelson had a subpar season and with just one year left on his
contract, it’s better for him to have a bounce back season or else the
Magic might have other plans for the position in the future.
The good news for Orlando is that they have a pretty good rotation
at the Point Guard position with Jameer Nelson, Chris Duhon and Jason
Williams. Duhon enjoyed a good first season with the Knicks, but last
season he hit the wall offensively by shooting just 37.3% from the
field. His role in Orlando is going to be way different than he had in
New York, so he won’t have the pressure to run the show and this might
help him. On the other side, Jason Williams enjoyed a nice comeback
season and Stan Van Gundy has a nice rotation to work with.
Like Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis saw his numbers considerably
decrease with the departure of Hedo Turkoglu. Due to the emergence of
Ryan Anderson, Lewis logged “only” 32.9 minutes per game and his numbers
were way down across the board with the ridiculous mark of 4.5
rebounds per game for a Power Forward. Defenses guarded the
pick-and-roll play differently without Turkoglu running the point,
because the Magic would use the play to swing the ball out to Lewis on
the weak-side. However, defenses were able to use Nelson’s size against
him since he had trouble seeing over taller defenders and the whole
play was slowed enough that Lewis didn’t get the same great looks as he
was used to. He still represents a matchup advantage for the Magic,
but Stan Van Gundy need to involve Lewis in his playbook.
Now that Matt Barnes is in LA, Mickael Pietrus is the leading
candidate to start at the Small Forward position. He is a good overall
defender and prove it two years ago against the Cavaliers in the
Playoffs but on the offensive end he has the “ability” to take bad and
difficult shots. Some rumors are saying that Rashard Lewis will play
some time at SF just to give more minutes to Brandon Bass but let’s see
what Stan Van Gundy decides.
The Magic second unit is probably the best second unit in the league
and they were the reason why the Magic were so dominant last year
during the regular season. Actually I really think that this unit can
play toe by toe against the lowly teams in the league. J.J Redick
finally developed into a solid rotation player and in the playoffs, he
was one of the best offensive players of the team; Ryan Anderson has the
long shooting range ability and that was enough to earn some minutes
and surpass Brandon Bass in the rotation; Marcin Gortat is a solid
center playing only 13 minutes per game and the newly signed Quentin
Richardson will provide to Stan Van Gundy another solid 3 pointer
shooting threat to work with.
Orlando has been one of the best teams in the league in the last
years and there’s no reason to think otherwise this season. The absence
of Hedo Turkoglu and the addition of Vince Carter didn’t work well last
season, but at least Stan Van Gundy has a clear notion of what went
wrong and he will make some adjustments. The division has now another
powerhouse club in Miami and the 4 games between them during the regular
season will surely be prime time shows.