30 August 2007

The Southeast Division Outlook, Part Four: Orlando Magic

The so-called Dog Days of Summer are here, which means the NBA season is still an eternity away -- and by 'an eternity', I mean 'two months'. Free-agents have been allowed to sign with teams for over a month, and there aren't any stars left in the pool. In other words, barring trades, most NBA teams have their core group of players in place, which means it's not unreasonable to start evaluating them.

Bearing that in mind, I thought I'd review the moves the Magic and their Southeast rivals made this summer and how those moves change the complexion of the division.

The Division Outlook series will run through this week and in alphabetical order by city. Today's post features the Orlando Magic.

Orlando Magic
Last season: 40-42, third in Southeast

  • Forward Adonal Foyle (via free-agency from Golden State)
  • Center Marcin Gortat (via 2005 draft)
  • Forward Rashard Lewis (via sign-and-trade with Seattle)
  • coach Stan Van Gundy (former Miami consultant)
  • Guard Travis Diener (via free-agency to Indiana)
  • coach Brian Hill (fired; now an assistant in New Jersey)
  • Guard Grant Hill (via free-agency to Phoenix)
  • Forward Darko Milicic (via free-agency to Memphis)
The Magic have been in the news more often this summer than at any other time in recent memory. The Billy Donovan Saga was memorable for all the wrong reasons, but the team was able to salvage that mess by hiring the offensive specialist Stan Van Gundy, a proven NBA coach. They followed that up by getting the most-coveted free-agent available, Rashard Lewis, even though it meant vastly overpaying for him.

However, one could argue the Magic lost as much talent as they gained: Grant Hill and Darko Milicic, two starting-quality players, bolted to chase a championship and playing time, respectively. Those departures leave the Magic thin at shooting-guard and power-forward, with no clear-cut starter at either position yet. Signing Lewis compounded that issue by giving the Magic too many small-forwards; Hedo Turkoglu and Trevor Ariza will either have to lose playing time or start playing out-of-position, which isn't great in the least.

Adonal Foyle provides the Magic with shot-blocking, but little else. He struggled to log minutes last season with Golden State, which runs an uptempo offensive system similar to the one Van Gundy figures to implement in Orlando. The other center, Marcin Gortat, is younger and more athletic, but will likely find himself behind Foyle on the depth chart because he will need time to adjust to playing against NBA-level talent after having spent the past several years playing in Poland.

But I'm not worried too much about any of that. Why? Stan Van Gundy is known for getting the best out of his players. In his first season as Miami's head coach, he improved the Heat by 17 games -- and this was in Dwyane Wade's rookie year, when he wasn't quite the player he is today. Oh, and that Shaq guy they have now wasn't there either. I'm not saying that the Magic are going to win 57 games, but I am saying is that they will improve. That said, they still have to contend with Washington and Miami for the division crown, and the Central and Atlantic divisions are filled with playoff contenders that could squeeze either of those two teams out of the playoffs.

1 comment:


I have a question.

While I agree that one could argue the Magic lost just as much as they gained this off season (even though I don't agree with that at all); how come there are so many people saying the Magic now have a void at shooting guard now that Grant Hill is gone (like they didn’t have one last season)?

Grant Hill never was a shooting guard, and never will be a shooting guard. Just because we lost the guy that was playing totally out of position, doesn't mean we have any more of a void there then we did last year.

In all actuality, the team could be better off actually playing the shooting guards on the roster that had to rot the bench last year as Grant and Keyon were playing the spot out of position.

While I wouldn’t mind Grant still being here as a bench player, I just don’t see a place for him. I truly don’t think the Magic will miss Grant.

As for Darko, I’m still upset about that loss. Depending on how his career goes, I might be left wondering what could have been here if Otis would have found a way to satisfy his sorry greedy-ass agent. I really wish we still had Darko.

Hopefully Foyle, Battie, and Gortat, along with Turk and Shard can hold our frontline over until we can land another quality player; who knows, maybe Fran Vasquez?

You also mentioned something about the offense Stan will run. While I’m looking forward to see what Stan does with these players, I don’t think his offense is anything like the offense Don Nelson runs. Nelson runs a full force run and gun, and I love watching it, but I think Stan is a little in between what Brian Hill did with defense, and what Nelson does was offense. That is the reason I think Foyle will fit in nicely, because I just can’t see us running a helter-skelter offense like GSW.

To jump to the conclusion, if this is our roster, and because we have Stan; I think we’re a 50 win team in the East.