The Sports Bank will be counting down to the opening tip of the 2012-13 NBA season with team by team previews starting with the worst and working our way to the title contenders. There is no lockout this time around so let’s get going.
Dwight Howard had his wish granted and was freed from the Orlando Magic. As a result, the Magic become one of the worst teams in the league as their post-Howard makeover will be quite painful. (By the way, if you are keeping track at home I have the three worst teams in the Eastern Conference coming from the Southeast Division.)
2011-12: 37-29, 6th in Eastern Conference
Predicted EC Finish: 13th
Projected Depth Chart:
C: Glen Davis/Gustavo Ayon/Nikola Vucevic/Kyle O’Quinn
PF: Al Harrington/Andrew Nicholson/Josh McRoberts/Justin Harper
SF: Hedo Turkoglu/Quentin Richardson/Moe Harkless/Christian Eyenga
SG: Aaron Afflalo/J.J. Redick/E’Twaun Moore
PG: Jameer Nelson/Ishmael Smith
Orlando’s off-season was: a circus that ended when an elephant took a massive dump in the middle of the ring. Graphic enough for you? The Dwight Howard soap opera ended when new general manager Rob Hennigan pretty much gave away their disgruntled superstar without any getting any of the three things they should have demanded in return; high draft picks, young talent, and expiring contracts. The deal still baffles me more than West Virginia QB Geno Smith’s ridiculous video games numbers against Baylor. Yes, I get that they HAD to trade Howard before camp began to rid themselves of his ego, but what the Magic received in return seems like half of what they could have netted from another team.
They also pretty much gave away their second banana, Ryan Anderson who was the NBA’s Most Improved Player last season and dumped Jason Richardson’s contract in the Howard trade so Orlando is now without three of their top four scorers from last season. They did all that yet re-signed Jameer Nelson to a three-year deal worth about $25 million which isn’t terrible yet still a lot to play an average point guard on a re-building franchise that should be blowing up their roster and trying to create a massive amount of cap space rather than signing mediocre talent to multi-year extensions. New head coach Jacque Vaughn is certainly walking into a messy situation.
2012-2013 will be a success if: they don’t finish with the worst record in the league. No, seriously. They are going to be really bad this season. Glen Davis is their projected starting center for heaven’s sake. Orlando is going to get absolutely crushed inside since they lack any sort of true inside presence. They will now rely on Aaron Afflalo as their go-to scorer? Their only hope is to adopt a Denver Nuggets-type post-Melo trade approach but that is asking an awful lot.
It will also be a success if they can find some sucker GM to take on Hedo Turkoglu and the remaining two years, $23.8 million left on his contract via trade.
2012-2013 will be a disappointment if: the Lakers win the NBA title and Dwight Howard gets what he wanted. I mean everyone associated with the Magic franchise has to expect this team to be a joke in the Eastern Conference so the only thing that would sting worse than finishing at the bottom of the league’s standings and having a legitimate shot of winning the NBA Draft Lottery would be to see Howard hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of the year.
Looking ahead to next summer: Hennigan needs to hire someone to hold Turkoglu’s family hostage so that he opts out of the $12 million he is owed for 2013-14 (just not the dudes who keep taking Liam Neeson’s family. Those guys suck at kidnapping.) Realistically though, only Redick and McRoberts officially are free agents after this season so barring some more wheeling and dealing, the only thing to look forward to is a top pick in the NBA Draft.
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)