It’s back to the building blocks for Orlando. You can’t help but feel sorry for these guys looking at the incredible stroke of bad luck that they’ve had this summer. It’s sad watching a team that at one point was flying high in all its greatness lose seemingly everything overnight. After their first round beating in last season’s playoffs, Orlando started off the summer by losing their head coach, followed by the loss of Jason Richardson. Then the big one came. As if Orlando wasn’t getting hit enough, the Dwight Howard fiasco finally hit home. Orlando would end up losing Howard in a four team trade that resulted in them receiving a wash up power forward and Aaron Afflalo. Al Harrington and Afflalo hasn’t even been mentioned when this trade has been discussed over the past couple of weeks. No one cares about them. It’s sad to say that they’ve been the after thought of an incredible explosion that we all saw coming, yet was powerless to stop. However, while no one really speaks of the existence of the Magic, everyone definitely agrees that it doesn’t look pretty for them as far the future is concerned. Consider the fact that they sit in the heart of a very competitive division, featuring the NBA champions as their in state neighbors; Orlando’s days as title contenders are over. What I will say is that all is not lost for the Magic. While they certainly don’t have the talent that they once did, Orlando still have a decent core of veterans followed by some good young talent. They may not be a championship team anymore. However, I won’t call them the worse team in the NBA.
We can start looking at this team either way. I like to look at teams from the point guard simply because that’s where the head of any team lies. Jameer Nelson has proved himself to be an exceptional point guard in the NBA. While he may have came into the league a little over rated, he has proved not to be a total fluke. At this point in his career, Nelson is sitting at 11ppg and 5apg. These are pretty good stats coming from Nelson. While I would love for his assist ratio to be higher (he’s spent all of his career passing to Howard). However, with this team officially being Nelson’s team now, I do expect his numbers to be way higher.
J.J. Reddick is another Magic player that came into the league a little over rated. However, these past two seasons, Reddick has drastically improved. He still has a long way to go as far as shooting guards are concerned. Having the Heat (with a healthy Dwayne Wade) as in state neighbors, Reddick definitely needs to work on his defensive skills if he hopes to make any noise next season. Looking at his defensive stats (1.7 rebounds and 0.1 steals), it’s clear that Reddick is more of a shooter than a stopper. If he can manage to help that, he can become more of a standout shooting guard in the league.
Hedu Turkoglu is probably the one guy in Orlando that has remained somewhat consistent throughout his time in Orlando. Once again, with no Howard, Turkoglu will be expected to be more of a closer than he’s ever been. The one strength that ahe has is the willingness and ability to take the last shot in the game, and make it. Add a little more strength to his inside (which is easier said and done at this point of his career), and Hedu becomes that much more dangerous. The magic’s scoring runs will most likely begin through Turkoglu, and in tight situations, end with him.
There’s a lot of young talent in Orlando. Glen Davis is definitely the most seasoned, and most talented young guy on the team. He’s proved in Boston that while he’s relatively shorter than most centers in the league, he can get it done by any means necessary. Last season, while Howard was riding the bench due to his back injury, Davis nearly carried the team by himself. Putting up career highs in points and rebounds, Davis managed to make his name more of a household entity. If he can manage to carry some of that momentum over to this season, we could possibly be looking at the third best center in the east.
I’m most excited to see how Aaron Afflalo and Josh McRoberts can affect this team. While Afflalo may not tbe the most exciting guy to watch at the shooting guard position, he stays consistent, a reason why he’s an asset to almost any team. On the other hand, Josh McRoberts is always a highlight waiting to happen. While he doesn’t really put up great numbers, he is a rebounding machine. Likewise, he always seems to beat the right place at the right time as far as offensive put backs are concerned. Along with other young talent such as Ishmael Smith and Christian Eyenga, the magic have nice tools for a quick rebuilding process. I expect in the next four season that they will be back to a playoff caliber team. However, just as we saw during the Howard fiasco, only time will tell.
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