27 September 2007

Orlando Sentinel: Surgery a Possibility for Tony Battie


Brian Schmitz reported earlier this afternoon that Tony Battie, arguably our best power forward, injured his shoulder a few weeks ago and may require surgery:

Orlando Magic power forward Tony Battie might have to undergo rotator cuff surgery and miss an undetermined amount of time.

Battie was undergoing testing Thursday at Duke University, and the Magic were waiting on the results.
I'm no expert, but I know that shoulder injuries take a long time to heal. The Lakers' Lamar Odom, who had a torn labrum, underwent surgery in May and is still recovering. As the Orange County Register reported, he might even miss the start of the NBA season (via Forum Blue and Gold).

Tony Battie is not a great player, but he is important to this team. Think of it this way: when Battie is on the floor for the Magic, Pat Garrity and James Augustine are taking a seat, which is a good thing.

If Battie indeed misses time, it almost ensures that Stan Van Gundy will be forced to use Rashard Lewis at power forward instead of at small forward, his natural position. Lewis doesn't have the strength or ability to defend the low post well.

A bad defensive team just got a lot worse. I wonder how Otis Smith feels about letting Darko go now.

(Thanks to Orlando Magic Blog for drawing this story to my attention).

UPDATED: What NBA Preview Publications and Bloggers are Saying about the Magic

It started two weeks ago, when Deanna Gugel, writing for Brian Schmitz's Magic Basketblog, posted some preseason NBA rankings she gleaned from preview magazines. Athlon bore good news; Lindy's did not.

The same day, TSN Canada's Tim Chisholm wrote this fairly non-committal article about the Magic, in which he summarizes the offseason and predicts, "The last couple of playoffs spots in the East are going to be hard-won by whichever teams wind up with them," before writing that Dwight Howard is an "enviable presence" to have in a playoff race. He stops just short of saying the Magic will make the playoffs.

Not even a week later, ESPN's Marc Stein wrote that the Magic had the third-best offseason in the Eastern Conference, trailing only the Boston Celtics and the Detroit Pistons.

Today, Gugel posted more predictions, this time from the NBA annual published by The Sporting News in conjunction with Street & Smith. That publication has the Magic finishing in seventh in the conference, based on a mathematical formula. Our playoff opponent, according to that formula, would be -- are you ready for this? -- the Detroit Pistons. Like we haven't seen enough of them in the playoffs already.

If The Sporting News is to be believed, the Jameer Nelson and the Magic will have to endure another playoff series with the Pistons next April.
Photo by Gary W. Green, the Orlando Sentinel

But bloggers are having their say as well. ShamSports.com, irreverent as ever, writes that "the most realistic expectation" for the Magic is "a low playoff seed once again." A grim prediction, but one well worth reading, as it will make you laugh... and possibly cry.

Finally, Tom Ziller posted the Southeast Edition of his NBA Festivus series, complete with The Airing of Grievances and Festivus Miracles. It's the most positive assessment of the Magic yet, as it has them winning the division and getting the 4th playoff seed. Like ShamSports, it's an amusing and informed look ahead to the NBA season.

UPDATE - not long after I posted this entry, Black and Blue registered his season preview, which is also Magic-positive.

I'll try to update this post with preseason predictions from various news sources and blogs as they become available. Stay tuned.

Poll Results, New and Old

From time to time, I post a poll in the right sidebar of 3QC. In looking over some of my notes, I realized that I had taken some polls down without posting their results. With the exception of the top-most chart, which details the results of last week's question, these charts represent data collected well over a month ago. My bad.

So, in the interests of completeness and of full disclosure, here are the results, along with links to the entries to which they correspond:

Who do you want the Magic to sign as their 15th man?

  • Kevin Kruger, 10 votes
  • Torrell Martin, 5 votes
  • Bo Outlaw, 2 votes
  • Somebody else, 0 votes

Was signing Adonal Foyle a good move?
  • Yes, 8 votes
  • Kinda, 6 votes
  • Are you kidding? 0 votes
  • What's an Adonal? 1 vote

Would you trade Keyon Dooling and Pat Garrity to Denver for Reggie Evans and J.R. Smith?
  • Absolutely, 9 votes
  • Probably, 1 vote
  • I don't know, 3 votes
  • Probably not, 1 vote
  • Absolutely not, 0 votes

24 September 2007

Summer of 2007: An Orlando Magic Photo Album

Yesterday marked the official beginning of autumn, although you wouldn't know it based on the weather; it's still miserably humid outside. But now that summer's over, I thought I'd take a look back at the Magic's offseason activity. It was busy, tumultuous, and certainly not a vacation.

May 31st: Billy Donovan Hired as New Magic Coach

Photo by Red Huber, the Orlando Sentinel

June 6th: Magic Release Donovan from Contract, Allow Him to Return to Florida

Photo by Tim Casey

June 11th: Stan Van Gundy Hired as Newest Magic Coach

Photo by Fernando Medina, Getty Images

July 11th: Rashard Lewis Acquired From Seattle in Sign-And-Trade Deal

Photo by Fernando Medina, Getty Images

July 11th: Grant Hill Departs Orlando, Joins Phoenix

Photo by Jeramie McPeek, Suns Photos

July 12th: Magic Award Dwight Howard with Five-Year Contract Extension

Photo by Fernando Medina, Getty Images

July 17th: Darko Milicic Leaves Orlando, Signs with Memphis

Photo by Joe Murphy, Getty Images

August 24th: Magic Sign Adonal Foyle, Free-Agent Center

Photo by NBA.com

July 26th: Magic Sign Marcin Gortat, 2005 Draft Pick

Photo by NBA.com

So, there you have it: a pictorial look at the Magic's summer. I did my best to cover the major items, which is why these photos of some Magic players boxing, however amusing, didn't make the cut. The Magic's web site has its own photo gallery, which is worth checking out if you have some time to kill. It happens to include my all-time, non-action, favorite photo of a Magic player.

20 September 2007

Poof! FSN Makes Magic Disappear

Hardy-har-har-har, I know. It's a Thursday, I have a ton of schoolwork, and I need to entertain myself. Please forgive the entry title.

Anyway, there's still no agreement between Bright House Networks and Fox Sports Net to make Magic games viewable on basic cable. Earlier this summer, the Magic dumped their in-house production team to cut costs and awarded 35 of their games to FSN. But Bright House, the only cable-provider in the Central Florida area, wants FSN to be part of a "sports-tier package," which costs extra. Unless an agreement is reached soon, the Magic will be the only team in the thirty-team NBA that doesn't have free broadcasts of all its games. 42 of the Magic's games will be available on Sun Sports, which is free. But it's still a crappy situation.

And it just got crappier, as Tim Povtak reports (in not such strong language, I should add). Magic fans wanting to see how well Rashard Lewis fits in with Orlando are going to have to wait a while, because 11 of their first 16 games will be broadcast on FSN.

This issue couldn't come up at a worse time for the team. As the Sentinel reported weeks ago, Harris Rosen, a tremendous fill-in-the-blank, is trying to block construction of the team's new arena via a signature drive. To recap: if he gets the signatures he needs, approval of any sporting venue costing over $25 million will have to go public vote. The Orange County Commission is retaining lawyers and will fight Rosen, who's probably just bitter because the money is going to benefit THE CITIZENS OF ORLANDO rather than the fat-cats who stay at his I-Drive hotels. Rosen has an army of dedicated nincompoops followers going door-to-door to collect the signatures, and he's avoiding Maitland and Winter Park, cities with an apparently high concentration of Magic fans. Thus, a majority of the people who will receive visits from the signature-gatherers are fringe Magic fans at best. If they're currently on-the-fence on the Magic, might this current TV flap sway them to sign the petition? After all, why would the average resident want to pay for a new arena for a team that they can't even watch on TV?

Stop me if you've heard this one before: the Magic have gotten themselves into a huge mess, and their fans are suffering as a result.

In other news, the Bucks inexplicably matched the Heat's offer sheet to Charlie Bell, which will keep the disgruntled guard in Milwaukee despite his insistence that he doesn't want to play there. As a result, you can completely disregard this post I wrote a few days ago. Additionally, the Heat won't be adding defensive-stopper (and perfect Pat Riley player) Mickael Pietrus from Golden State because they couldn't put together a good enough trade package; shockingly, the offer of Jason Williams and Michael Doleac (remember him?) wasn't enough to make Chris Mullin OK the deal (Via Fanhouse). Thus, the Heat have had a mediocre offseason at best, and are no longer locks to make the postseason.

Forthcoming for the Magic is the start of training camp (Sept. 29th, a week from Saturday); Forthcoming of us at 3QC is a post regarding the fantasy value of some Magic players and a post or two in the starting lineup series, which I've managed to stall for over a week now. Maybe they'd be finished if I didn't have The Canterbury Tales to slog through.

18 September 2007

Sentinel: Magic invite Outlaw, Kruger, and Martin to Training Camp

Tim Povtak reported in this morning's Orlando Sentinel that Bo Outlaw, who was told earlier this summer that he didn't fit into the Magic's future plans, will join the team in training camp and will have a chance to compete for the team's fifteenth and final roster spot. Said GM Otis Smith, "It's just hard to say no to Bo." I just wish someone had shouted "No, Bo!" before Andrea Bargnani went and did this to him last season:

Joining Bo as non-roster invitees will be point guard Kevin Kruger and shooting guard Torrell Martin. Those two players averaged 8.8 points per game and 3.2 points per game, respectively, on the Magic's summer-league team. Complete statistics for that team can be downloaded in a PDF file by clicking here.

Given the Magic's cache of average-at-best big-men (Tony Battie, Adonal Foyle, Pat Garrity, James Augustine, Marcin Gortat), I think Outlaw's chances of making the team are slim. Of all the players, I think Kruger has the best odds. Sure, he'd be a third-string point guard, but his presence would allow the Magic to unload the expiring contracts of either Carlos Arroyo or Keyon Dooling in a trade. Torrell Martin has to be all but ruled-out; the Magic are thin at shooting guard, but not thin enough to warrant taking a flyer on him.

We'll see shortly how it all shakes out; camp begins on September 26th.

17 September 2007

Adonal Foyle is Awesome

I'm hardly the first person to say this, but there are few players in the NBA as likable as Adonal Foyle. Okay, he's never been much of a star, but he's just so freaking nice. I urge you to check out his official site, which, as Black and Blue pointed out, even features poetry by the Magic's newest acquisition. Additionally, Foyle runs a student-oriented political-participation website, Democracy Matters. Both of his sites are very professional and clean-cut... just like their founder.

What excites me most about Adonal is the prospect of seeing him make this face after a teammate's authoritative slam-dunk. And given that he's joining a team featuring Dwight Howard (the league's leader in throwdowns) and Trevor Ariza, I'd say the odds of seeing Adonal's "OH NO HE DIDN'T!" face are pretty damn high.

Finally, I thought I'd recommend Cooliris, my favorite browser plug-in. I use it when reading link-dump blog posts, as it allows me to view links without leaving the current page. Trust me: it's super convenient.

Rival Heat Make Offer to Charlie Bell

J.J. Redick has a broken hand.

That's the only Magic news that's come out since the death of Jameer Nelson's father two weeks ago. Given the dearth of Magic news, I'm forced to scan the internet for rumblings from the camps of our division rivals: the Hawks, Bobcats, Heat, and Wizards. Today, as Ira Winderman reports (thanks, TrueHoop), the Heat signed 28-year-old swingman Charlie Bell to a five-year, $18.5 million offer sheet. Because he is a restricted free-agent, the Milwaukee Bucks, the team for which he's played the last two seasons, have the right to match the Heat's offer and retain Bell.

The Bucks' Charlie Bell and the Magic's Hedo Turkoglu battle for a loose ball in a game from last season. Bell and Turkoglu will be seeing a lot of each other this season, as Bell will likely leave the Bucks to join Orlando's rival, the Miami Heat.
Photo by Darren Hauck, the Associated Press

It's hard to see why the Bucks would want to match the Heat's offer, given the contract's length Bell's explicit statement that he doesn't want to play in Milwaukee. So what does the Heat's acquisition of Bell mean for us? Charlie Bell is not a great player, but he's not a bad one, either. He'll exceed the departed Eddie Jones' scoring (9.5 points per game last season) and will probably soak up plenty of minutes at shooting guard. That means less playing time for Daequan Cook, the Heat's first-round draft choice this year; and for Penny Hardaway, whom we know well, the aging veteran with shaky knees attempting to make a comeback. I think it's safe to say that the Heat are better off when those two players aren't on the floor.

Will this move vault the Heat back into true title contention? Probably not, but it does bring them that much closer to catching Washington and -- ahem -- Orlando in the wide-open Southeast Division.

13 September 2007

I Hope You Haven't Bought your Magic/Blazers tickets yet...

... because Greg Oden's rookie season is over before it really began due to microfracture surgery performed today. The 2007/2008 NBA season just got a whole lot less interesting.

What does this news mean for the Magic? Nothing, really. But it should be relevant to Magic fans. The night of the draft lottery, I wrote that Greg Oden and Brandon Roy could team-up to form an inside-out combination to rival the Shaq-and-Penny tandem the Magic had in the 1990s. Now that scenario is even more likely, as Tom Ziller pointed out. Given that the Blazers didn't improve by much this offseason, there's a great chance they'll be in the lottery again next season, which would (presumably) give them three cornerstone-caliber players under the age of 24 headed into the 2008/2009 season. Voltron connected.

12 September 2007

On Second Thought...: Using Statistics to Re-do the All-Defense Lineup

One week ago today, I made a post in which I wrote that Keyon Dooling should start at point guard for the Magic if the team went with a defense-oriented starting lineup. My reasoning came from objectively watching Dooling play; he's the best defender the Magic have under 6'6" tall. He also played minutes at point guard down the stretch last season as Carlos Arroyo fell out of favor with Brian Hill.

All the recent discussion about the validity of statistics in the basketblogosphere got me thinking, "How would that defensive-oriented lineup change if I were to use statistics instead of my own knowledge about the players?" I’ll go into two possibilities in that regard momentarily.

The statistics discussion began over at Plissken at the Buzzer, where Carter Blanchard poo-pooed John Hollinger's Player Efficiency Rating (PER) because it rated the likes of Brent Barry and Earl Boykins more highly than it rated Lamar Odom. Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty responded in this post on Ballhype, and the discussion has spun-off into so many posts on so many blogs that it’s hard to keep them straight.

I personally put a fair amount of trust in PER because it

  • Compiles a player's offensive and defensive statistics into one number,
  • Adjusts that number for playing-time and league pace, and
  • Normalizes that number to 15 each season; that is, a marginal player will have a PER below 15 and a good player will have a PER above 15.
Using data from the incomparable 82games, here is what the Magic's best defensive lineup would be, derived from subtracting the PER a player allows opponents he is guarding from a player’s own PER:
  1. Carlos Arroyo (15.6 own, 14.3 allowed, +1.3)
  2. Keyon Dooling (11.2 own, 13.4 allowed -2.2)
  3. Rashard Lewis (21.6 own, 15.5 allowed, +6.1)
  4. Tony Battie (10.3 own, 15.2 allowed, -4.9)
  5. Dwight Howard (23 own, 12.9 allowed +10.1)
Notice that Dooling and Battie allow better PERs than they post themselves. What’s sad is that those two players were, by this measure, the best at their respective positions last season even with those negative differences.

However, this lineup only works if you trust PER and 82games' assessment of each player's position; according to that site, for instance, Dooling was on the floor for 35% of the Magic's total minutes last season, and he spent 88.5% of that time at shooting guard. The table, available here, is reproduced in image form below:

But a statistical system in which Lamar Odom (15.9 points per game, 9.8 rebounds per game, 4.8 assists per game in 2006/2007; 16.1 PER) is rated lower than Brent Barry (8.5 points per game, 2.1 rebounds per game, 1.8 assists per game in 2006/2007; 16.6 PER) surely must be flawed, right? After all, players who rarely get off the bench do not have a fair amount of data from which to draw their PERs, which is why our very own James Augustine (a total of 7 minutes played in two games last season) posted a PER of 16.6, which also exceeds Lamar Odom's showing.

Perhaps a better indicator of a player's defensive effectiveness is his plus/minus rating, adjusted on a per-100 possessions basis. For instance, the Magic allowed 106.1 points per 100 possessions when Dwight Howard was on the floor, but just 105.4 points per 100 possessions when he was off it. Using this information, we can see that, at least last season, the Magic were actually a slightly better defensive team when Howard was not in the game.

Here's how the all-defense lineup looks when using on-court/off-court defensive performance as the criterion. Note that a negative differential is good because it means the team allows fewer points per 100 possessions when the player is on the floor:
  1. Carlos Arroyo (103.8 on, 106.9 off, -3.1)
  2. Keith Bogans (105.7 on, 106.0 off, -0.3)
  3. Trevor Ariza (103.1 on, 107.2 off, -4.1)
  4. Tony Battie (103.4 on, 107.5 off, -4.1)
  5. Dwight Howard (106.1 on, 105.4 off, +0.7)
Interesting how Keith Bogans and Trevor Ariza show up here, but not in the previous list. This indicates, at least to me, that Bogans and Ariza are better team defenders than they are individual defenders.

Even more interesting: Dooling’s per-100 possession defensive differential isn’t so great; when he is on the floor, the Magic allow 108.1 points per 100 possessions. But when he’s off the floor, the Magic’s defense is better, allowing 104.6 points per 100 possessions. I have no idea how to explain that. Even more puzzling is Jameer Nelson’s numbers. When he’s on the floor, the Magic allow 107.1 points per 100 possessions. Does that mean that Jameer is a better defender than Keyon is? It seems to indicate that fact is true, although we, as Magic fans, know it not to be.

I now pose the question to you: if you had to select a defensive-oriented starting lineup for the Magic, whom would you choose?

This discussion of statistics has left me tired; I need to shut my brain off, and perhaps you do too. For you, then, I present Hedo Turkoglu getting dunked on by Marco Belinelli in Eurobasket competition. No wonder Turk doesn't appear on any of these defensive lineups, although, in fairness, he was the weak-side defender on the play and was not responsible for Belinelli getting into the lane.

Thanks to Tom Ziller for originally posting that clip over at AOL Fanhouse.

10 September 2007

Trips Down Memory Lane: ESPN Remembers Two Magic/Bulls Playoff Games

I've come to accept that, even with Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard, the Magic aren't on most sports fans' radar, and haven't been for quite some time. That's why I was delighted to see these two items on ESPN.com recently.

First, and rather depressingly, is Kelly Dwyer's look back at Game 1 of the Magic's Eastern Conference Finals series against Chicago. The Bulls crushed us by 38 points, we went on to lose the series, Shaquille O'Neal left us that summer, and we still haven't fully recovered. Still, Magic fans can look forward to reading Dwyer's shots at Brian Hill. This one was my favorite:

3Q, 11:50: Things are about to fall apart for Orlando. Pippen grabs an offensive rebound after a Jordan miss, stops on the baseline (with a live dribble) some eight feet away from the hoop, and every Magic defender runs away from him. Pippen gets an uncontested layup. Hardaway throws it away on the next possession - the Magic were trying to post up Dennis Scott on Ron Harper. That's Brian Hill's answer. More post-ups for Dennis Scott.
But the Worldwide Leader did have some good news for Magic fans. The ever-loathsome Bill Simmons has selected the Magic's Game 6 victory over Chicago from 1995 as the last of seven games to replayed on ESPN Classic on Wednesday nights leading up to the 2007/2008 NBA season. The series starts this Wednesday with a Cavs/Celtics game from 1992 and runs through the Magic/Bulls game on October 24th. Get your DVRs ready!

But Simmons wouldn't be Simmons if he weren't disparaging cities for no real reason. In his NFL picks this week, he details why fans in Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, and Miami hate him before writing this nugget of joy about the City Beautiful:
(Next up: Orlando! If you ever wanted to know why the terrorists hate us, just spend a week there and it will all make sense. I've been there twice and there won't be a third time. No wonder Shaq fled for L.A.)
Feel free to send him a nasty email. I have better things to do than to personally respond to the musings of a hack writer with unwarranted grudges.

A final note of mild relevance: the Nuggets have agreed to trade Reggie Evans and the draft rights to Ricky Sanchez to Philadelphia for Steven Hunter (remember him?) and Bobby Jones. This move ensures the Magic won't be acquiring Evans, one of the league's premier rebounders, despite rumors that they had been talking to Denver about a possible trade.

09 September 2007

Floyd Nelson Remembered and 2007/2008 Promotions Announced

First, I apologize for the delay between posts. I took a spontaneous vacation this weekend, which (mercifully) kept me away from my computer. Now that it's over, I'll be able to post regularly again, and continue the series of posts on possible starting lineups for next year.

While I was at the beach, Jameer Nelson gathered with family and friends in Chester, PA at a memorial service for his father, Floyd Nelson, who was found dead in the Delaware River last week after disappearing from his job as a tugboat repairman. The Philadelphia Inquirer's story, which I found via a post by Deanna Gugel in Brian Schmitz's Magic blog, can be read here.

Gugel also reported over the weekend that people who want to send Jameer their condolences can do so by mailing their card to the Magic's team office. Donations can be sent to the Nelson family care of Cornerstone Management, 944 County Line Road, Bryn Mawr, PA 19013.

On a much lighter note, I've updated the sidebar with a link to the Magic's 2007/2008 promotions page. You'll DEFINITELY want to get tickets for the December 7th game against the Indiana Pacers. Why? The giveaway is a super-cool Dwight Howard action figure, which shows D12 performing his infamous sticker dunk. You'll also get the added bonus of seeing former Magic player Travis Diener start for the Pacers, as Jamaal Tinsley will surely be jailed/injured by then.

05 September 2007

Fun With Rotations: 2007/2008 Starting Lineup Possibilities, Part Two

There are only three givens for this year's Magic starting lineup: Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis, and Dwight Howard will be there. After that, it's anyone's guess as to who else will be there, and which position they'll play. 3QC breaks down the possibilities.

Tuesday's entry covered the All-Firepower lineup. This one features its philosophical opposite...

The All-Defense Lineup

  1. Keyon Dooling
  2. Trevor Ariza
  3. Rashard Lewis
  4. Tony Battie
  5. Dwight Howard
This lineup surrounds the Lewis/Howard core with Dooling, Ariza, and Battie, three blue-collar defenders. It relegates Jameer to the bench, which frees him up to come into games and immediately look to score rather than look to set-up his teammates. There's no way that Jameer won't be the opening-night starter, but I'm willing to put that aside just for the sake of argument. Starting Keyon ensures that the opposition's starter will be worn down offensively. What we'd then have to bank on is that Jameer is able to run that starter ragged once he enters the game, forcing the opposition to go to its backup. In other words, this lineup trades early offense for later offense. Make of that what you will.

The major flaw in this configuration, however, is the opposite problem the All-Firepower one has: there are too few offensive weapons on the floor to start the game. Dooling has never been known for his scoring abilities nor for his ability to run an offense; Tony Battie has only one reliable offensive option: the 18-foot jumper; and Trevor Ariza feeds off of offensive rebounds and transition buckets rather than off of having plays called for him. Further, Dwight struggles with creating shots for himself, leaving Rashard as the only true playmaker. I suspect there would be plenty of standing-around going on in this lineup, which works well only when playing with elite talents like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Michael Jordan.

Basically, this lineup wouldn't be a bad one to use for small stretches, but it's not one that would be effective to start a game; it's not balanced enough. Relegating Jameer, Hedo Turkoglu, and J.J. Redick to the bench is just too risky because any of those players, when given starter's minutes, could go for 25 points on any given night.

As always, the comments section is open for discussion. There will be more entries in this series in the coming days.

Darko Will Do Horrible Things to You

I'm not sure if Darko Milicic news is still relevant to this site, but this nugget bears passing along. Darko, displeased with the refs in Serbia's loss to Greece in FIBA competition, said the following after the game:

"I will find the referees, murder them and then f--- their daughters"
Like wow, Scoob. If only he played as hard as he cursed; then he might actually live up to the hype.

You can watch the Serbian Gangster's blast on YouTube by clicking here. Don't worry about getting called into your boss' office later; it's in a foreign language.

And if you're in the mood for more Darko temper-tantrums, there's this YouTube gem, complete with homerriffic commentary by the Raptors' announcers:

In more Magic-related news, another rotation post should be up later this evening.

Thanks to Bethlethem Shoals for first posting this story over at FanHouse.

04 September 2007

Fun With Rotations: 2007/2008 Starting Lineup Possibilities, Part One

There are only three givens for this year's Magic starting lineup: Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis, and Dwight Howard will be there. After that, it's anyone's guess as to who else will be there, and which position they'll play. 3QC breaks down the possibilities.

The All-Firepower Lineup

  1. Jameer Nelson
  2. J.J. Redick
  3. Hedo Turkoglu
  4. Rashard Lewis
  5. Dwight Howard
As evidenced by the title, this lineup puts the Magic's most prolific scorers at each position on the floor to start the game. Nelson sets up the offense; Redick, Turkoglu, and Lewis spread the defense with their long-range shooting skills; and Howard clogs the lane on defense and posts-up on offense. Sounds great... at first.

There's a real drawback to putting this lineup on the floor to start the game: depth. Just ask four-time NBA champion coach Gregg Popovich why he keeps Manu Ginobili on his bench while he starts veteran Michael Finley. It's not a great idea to have your second-unit be comprised of -- and perhaps this term is too harsh -- scrubs. Where would the offense come from once the first-unit is off the floor? Carlos Arroyo? Keyon Dooling? Tony Battie? Yuck.

There's also a problem on the defensive end; Nelson, Redick, Turkoglu, and Lewis are regarded as below-average in that facet of the game. Further, Lewis is naturally a small forward, so he is unaccustomed to guarding power forwards. While he could certainly handle the more modern perimeter-oriented fours, the traditional, back-to-the-basket ones would give him fits. Rashard is needed for his offense, and he needs to keep his legs fresh. We can't have him spending all his energy on defense.

So although this starting lineup certainly would pack a punch, some games are won and lost based on reserve play, which eliminates this lineup from serious consideration.

Look for more lineup entries later in the week. Until then, discuss this one's viability in the comments section. Hope you enjoyed your Labor Day, everyone.

01 September 2007

Floyd Nelson's Body Likely Found

Rescue workers search the Delaware River for the body of Floyd Nelson on Friday. A body found in the river on Saturday is likely to be his.
Photo by Matt Rourke, the Associated Press

Several news outlets, including ESPN, are reporting that the body pulled from the Delaware River earlier today is likely that of Floyd Nelson, father of Magic guard Jameer Nelson:

Police in Delaware said a boater called 911 on Saturday after spotting the body of a black male floating in the river near Fox Point Park in Wilmington. The body was recovered around 2 p.m.

There was a "strong likelihood" that the body was Floyd Nelson's but police were unable to confirm it, said Delaware State Police spokesman Sgt. Joshua A. Bushweller.

Floyd Nelson was 57 years old and a Vietnam veteran. He worked as a tugboat repairman in Pennsylvania.

I'm saddened by this news and would like to extend my deepest sympathy to the Nelson family. If the Nelson family asks for donations to charitable organizations in Floyd's name, I'll be sure to post the names of those organizations here.