Orlando Magic Look to Keep Pace in Eastern Conference

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Dwight Howard Magic

While that other Florida NBA franchise was making a commotion this off-season, forever changing the landscape of the league, the Orlando Magic quietly sat back and avoided making any panic moves.  And why should they have?  Orlando has established themselves as one of the elite teams in the league.  But do they have what it takes to beat out the Heat and Celtics in the Eastern Conference?

By: David Kay

Orlando Magic (59-23 in 2009-2010)

2010-11 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Dwight Howard/Marcin Gortat/Daniel Orton
PF: Rashard Lewis/Brandon Bass/Ryan Anderson/Malik Allen
SF: Quentin Richardson/Mickael Pietrus
SG: Vince Carter/J.J. Redick
PG: Jameer Nelson/Chris Duhon/Jason Williams
Head Coach: Stan Van Gundy (4th season)

2010-11 Team Salary: Approximately $94.5 million

Offseason Moves:
-Magic re-sign PG Jason Williams to 1-year deal
-Magic match 3-year, $19 million offer sheet for SG J.J. Redick
-Magic sign G/F Quentin Richardson to 3-year deal worth reported $7.5 million
-G/F Matt Barnes opts out of contract
-Magic sign PG Chris Duhon to 4-year, $15 million deal

Off-Season Grade: B-
With the second highest payroll in the NBA, the Magic had little wiggle room this off-season.  They split their mid-level exception on veterans Quentin Richardson and Chris Duhon.  Q-Rich is a great value for a player who will likely end up being the team’s starting small forward.  Duhon adds more experience in the backcourt behind Jameer Nelson and will provide stability alongside the re-signed Jason Williams.

Orlando also matched the Bulls offer sheet for restricted free agent J.J. Redick.  It was a fairly pricey contract but the former Dukie is coming off a career year in which he really found his niche with the team.

2010-2011 Outlook:
The Eastern Conference figures to be a three-horse race.  Miami and Boston are the favorites but Orlando has made it to the conference finals in each of the past two seasons and will once again be in the mix.

Orlando’s rising superstar Dwight Howard saw his numbers dip a little bit as he got less touches which is not surprising since Vince Carter joined the team.  Howard might be the most dominant big man in the league around the rim.  If he can ever expand his game and become more of a threat 12-15 feet from the basket, he would be scary good.  Until then, he is what he is; an athletic big man who thrives on dunks, putbacks, and his outstanding athleticism.

With Howard patrolling the paint, Orlando needs veterans Carter and Rashard Lewis to be more effective on the perimeter.  VC is the final guaranteed year of his contract and might be playing a little harder this season so he can cash in next summer.  Lewis is coming off his worst season in a decade and is easily one of the most overpaid players in the league as he will make a cool $19.5 million this season.  He needs to bounce back if the Magic hope to knock off the Heat or Celtics.

The injury-prone Jameer Nelson is back to run the point.  The Magic were wise this off-season in adding Duhon and re-signing Williams to add more depth and stability at the one since Nelson can never stay healthy.

Redick, Richardson, and Mikael Pietrus will all battle for minutes on the wing and each bring something different to the table.  Ryan Anderson, Marcin Gortat, and Brandon Bass add depth up-front.  Bass could be an x-factor for Orlando after struggling to acclimate himself to his new team last season.

Vince Carter Magic

Looking Ahead to Next Summer:
The Magic hold an $18 million team option on the final year of Vince Carter’s contract.  There is no way they will exercise that option as VC is clearly not worth that much money.  However, even if Carter’s contract comes off the books, the Magic will still be way over the cap.

Their options will be to suck up the contract in fear of him leaving and Orlando not having the cap space to find a suitable replacement unless they used their mid-level.  The other is hope is passing on the option but still trying to re-sign Carter for a more reasonable deal or even try to work and sign-and-trade with another team.

NBA Power Ranking: 4th

Other NBA season previews/power rankings:
#2 Miami Heat
#3 Boston Celtics
#10 Milwaukee Bucks
#11 Atlanta Hawks
#12 Houston Rockets
#13 Utah Jazz
#14 Denver Nuggets
#15 Phoenix Suns
#16 Charlotte Bobcats
#17 New Orleans Hornets
#18 Memphis Grizzlies
#19 Philadelphia 76ers
#20 New York Knicks
#21 Los Angeles Clippers
#22 Indiana Pacers
#23 Golden State Warriors
#24 Washington Wizards
#25 Detroit Pistons
#26 New Jersey Nets
#27 Sacramento Kings
#28 Cleveland Cavaliers
#29 Toronto Raptors
#30 Minnesota Timberwolves

Check out David’s Fantasy Basketball Rankings

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Comments

  1. Hey David,
    Great set of previews, I actually like the Magic to win the East this season because of Dwight Howard. I know he’s a superstar, but I feel people do not give this guy enough credit for what he does on both sides of the court. Moreover, all of these other teams think you must have more than one superstar to win a championship while the Magic prove it’s definitely possible with a dominant big man and good role players. Teams like the Orlando Magic are why I get so excited to watch the NBA because they play basketball the right way.

  2. Thanks Nick… I don’t think Howard can do it by himself. Nelson, VC, and Lewis need to play better for the Magic to get past the Celtics or Heat… at least better than they played last year… Plus, Lewis cannot be their four… He got abused by KG last year in the playoffs… He needs to play the three and they need to find a solution at the four… but they will definitely be up there especially if they keep playing like they did Thursday night (altho the Wizards are awful.)

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