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Orlando Magic ’09-10 NBA season preview

By 10.22.09
Dwight Howard (photo. Mannion)

Dwight Howard (photo. Mannion)


Last year we debuted the “Highs and Lows” system — previewing the NBA season by predicting the respective ceiling and basement for each team. Same theme, different season…

Added: Vince Carter, Brandon Bass, Matt Barnes, Ryan Anderson, Jason Williams

Lost: Hedo Turkoglu, Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee, Tony Battie, Tyronn Lue

Ceiling: NBA Championship
It wasn’t that the Magic couldn’t defend the Lakers or couldn’t put points on the board during the ’09 Finals; their biggest obstacle was more an issue of experience and getting over that “first-time jitters/happy to be here” thing. That won’t be an issue this time around — plus Orlando knows they can get past Cleveland and Boston on their way to the biggest stage … Pound-for-pound, Vince Carter is better than Hedo Turkoglu, and brings an even more impressive resume of clutch shots of takeover-ability to the table. Vince is undeniably a superior scorer on the wing, a better defender, and arguably just as good of a creator and passer … Dwight Howard will challenge for MVP, and Defensive Player of the Year is his trophy to lose. He’ll get his 13-14 rebounds and 2-3 blocks per night, but if he’s added to his offensive arsenal in the post and improved his free throws like he said he’d do over the summer, he can be the most overall dominant player in the League … Behind Dwight, the big-man corps has more depth and talent with Brandon Bass and Marcin Gortat feeling all paid and appreciated, and the crew of shooters in Stan Van Gundy‘s three-heavy system is still strong with Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis, Vince, Matt Barnes and Ryan Anderson … So far in the preseason Orlando has played exactly like a team with this much talent, depth and versatility should: Each night six or seven guys are scoring in double figures and the defense is strong with guys like Mickael Pietrus allowed to keep their legs fresh. The list of teams that could beat the Magic in a seven-game series is growing smaller and smaller.

Basement: Second-round exit
Orlando is being handed a Top-3 seed in the East on a platter, and if they deliver, it’s hard to see them losing to any of the teams who would fall into the 6th to 8th-place range. There are a few reasons why the Magic could fall into 4th place, however, where knocking off a 5th seed won’t be so easy … Rarely do you see an NBA Finals team with as much turnover. Orlando lost their primary playmaker on the perimeter and the guy they’d usually enlist to take crunch-time shots (Hedo), the PG who guided them to the Finals (Rafer), and a promising youngster with defensive and offensive skills (Lee), among others. While the newcomers are an upgrade talent-wise, will the chemistry built during last year’s run be upset? … Lewis’ 10-game suspension to start the season could be one of those things that throws him off all year while he’s trying to play catch-up, and he’s already lost any kind of “surprise” factor; defenses will be keying on Lewis now and know what he can do. The whole team is in that kind of position, really. The “target on our backs” syndrome can be tough if the Magic don’t know how to handle it … Carter hasn’t been shooting the ball well in the preseason (27.3% 3PA), and if his outside shot continues to be off or inconsistent, that puts a big dent in what Orlando is trying to do.

*** *** ***

10/22 — Phoenix Suns
10/21 — Charlotte Bobcats
10/21 — San Antonio Spurs
10/21 — Miami Heat
10/19 — Oklahoma City Thunder
10/19 — Milwaukee Bucks
10/15 — Portland Trail Blazers
10/14 — Chicago Bulls
10/13 — Golden State Warriors
10/12 — Toronto Raptors
10/9 — Houston Rockets
10/8 — Detroit Pistons
10/7 — Memphis Grizzlies
10/6 — New York Knicks
10/5 — New Orleans Hornets
10/2 — Atlanta Hawks
9/30 — Sacramento Kings
9/29 — New Jersey Nets
9/28 — Denver Nuggets

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TOPICS#DWIGHT HOWARD
TAGSBrandon BassCourtney LeeDimeMagHEDO TURKOGLUJAMEER NELSONJason WilliamsMARCIN GORTATMATT BARNESMickael PietrusRAFER ALSTONRASHARD LEWISryan andersonSTAN VAN GUNDYVINCE CARTER

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