Shrouded in a cloud of uncertainty the Orlando Magic enter the season trying to make one last effort to convince their star, Dwight Howard, that there is no place like home.
Howard has been a pendulum of inconsistency in his demeanor towards possibly returning but the one constant has been his request to be on a championship team. That championship team could be in Orlando, Dallas, Los Angeles, or his preferred destination of New Jersey as of right now.
Well Howard’s wish is not necessarily the Magic’s command and Orlando is hoping to convince him they are committed to his championship goals. As a result they are now, at Howards request, consulting him in the decision making process of incoming players.
Enter Glen “Big Baby” Davis.
Davis was acquired with Von Wafer in a sign and trade deal that sent Brandon Bass to Boston Celtics. Big Baby is hoping for a bigger role with Orlando than he had with the Celtics and brings a championship pedigree with him of sorts.
Aside from the acqusititon of Davis, Orlando was relatively quiet on the roster improvement front. Gilbert Arenas was amnestied which is addition by subtraction in the minds of many. Other additions include rookies Justin Harper and DeAndre Liggins, as well as veteran journeyman Larry Hughes. The rest of the Magic lineup remains largely intact with Jason Richardson and Earl Clark both returning after the free agent market proved unfruitful.
Continuity should be high on this Magic roster although talent is not equal to that of the Easter conference elite. With a projected starting lineup of Jameer Nelson, Richardson, Hedo Turkgolu, Davis, and Howard this team is a playoff (not championship) contender. Howard’s request to be traded will not affect his ability to contribute on the court. Nelson (if healthy) and Richardson are also fairly consistent. The wild cards in the starting lineup are Davis and the wildly inconsistent Turkgolu.
How will Davis handle a bigger a role? Will he be the offensively efficient charge taking monster he was at the beginning of last season or the shoot first abyss he developed into at the end of Boston’s playoff run?
The answer is probably somewhere in the middle. Davis, under control, is an underrated scoring threat both inside and out. Defensively he plays the angles well despite being a tweener at his position. His playful personality should mesh well with that of Howard’s, for the time being.
Turkgolu is coming off another disappointing season. His shooting percentages and decision making both need to improve this season to give Orlando a chance at a deep playoff run.
Ryan Anderson, J.J. Redick, and Chris Duhon will likely be the first players off the bench but the remaining contributors will be determined on a game to game basis.
Wafer is capable of providing a nice offensive spark off the bench and Quentin Richardson is still a solid perimeter defender who can shoot the 3. Both should receive time sparingly. The rookies have been played sparsely in the pre-season and it is unclear if Daniel Orton or Earl Clark are ready for an increased role.
The Magic will continue to struggle when Howard leaves the game as Davis or Anderson will likely have to slide over to play center in his absence. That is when the offense becomes 100% perimeter orientated and the 3’s reign like dollar bills in a gentleman’s club.
The Magic’s “you can’t make ‘em unless you take ‘em” approach to the 3 point shot has been a constant for the last four seasons. Not much is likely to change in that respect. So where they need to improve is on defensive consistency and scoring off the bench. If those two things happen Orlando could surprise some people as long as the 3 point shot is also falling.
Otherwise the Orlando Magic are looking at a seed anywhere between 4-6 in the Eastern Conference and a probable first round exit. Clearly that will not be enough for Howard.
Common thinking is that Howard will be moved somewhere around the trade deadline depending on Orlando’s position in the East. That is another roster decision he is likely to have a large role in.
About the Author
Written by Warren Shaw
I am an avid Basketball fan who has worked for the New York Knicks, Alonzo Mourning Charities and various other sports organizations. Having covered many NBA and various professional sporting events has given me the opportunity to provide insight with an unbiased but flavor driven view. I look forward to providing NBA content and interacting with knowledgeable fans and readers. Follow me on Twitter @shawsports or Email your questions to me at Warrenshaw@prosportsblogging.com