2008-2009 Orlando Magic Season Preview
2008 Orlando Magic preview from the Maddux Sports experts. Before you leave grab unbeatable nba picks from our NBA handicappers.
The Orlando Magic (52- 30) were coached ably by Stan Van Gundy last season. Van Gundy was hired by the Magic after coach Billy Donovan decided to renege on his original commitment to the team. Van Gundy got a lot out of a roster that was considered by many to be thin. The team’s offensive efficiency ranked sixth in the league and their defensive efficiency was fifth. 32.2% of the team’s shots were three-pointers; they hit 38.6% of them. That was the fourth-highest percentage in the NBA. They also had the second-highest free throw rate and third-highest two-point success rate.
The result was that the Magic took the top spot in the Southeastern Division. Orlando won their first round playoff series, and then they were eliminated by Detroit in the second round. The team was helped throughout the season by fine interior play. The trade that sent the talented Trevor Ariza to the Lakers for Maurice Evans and Brian Cook turned out better than expected. Although Cook was a bust, Evans proved to be fine starting guard.
Backcourt men, Evans, Keyon Dooling and Carlos Arroyo have all departed. The Magic brought in Mickael Pietrus and Anthony Johnson, both role players. Good news during the summer was that swingman Keith Bogans decided to stay. Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year Courtney Lee, who plays guard/forward, could see important minutes almost immediately.
Center Dwight Howard is a massive player. Howard notched 20.7 PPG and 14.2 RPG. Howard is strong, smart and skilled. His weakness is his foul shooting, which stands at 59%. From the floor, he hits 60%. Two other major point producers—Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis—play on either side of Howard. Both guys are 46% shooters and both hit 40% from downtown. Turkoglu, who’s really a combo forward/guard, averaged 19.5 PPG and Lewis 18.2 PPG.
The perimeter play is worrisome for this team. Although the forwards can take some steps back and hit from outside, there is not a true point scorer in the backcourt. Jameer Nelson hits threes at 42% and is good from the field 47% of the time. But he doesn’t shoot a whole lot. He averaged 10.9 PPG last season. He’s a fine play-runner, notching 5.6 APG while keeping the team organized and focused. For the Magic, the backcourt is a defensive bastion. Pietrus will see time opposite the point. He’s got a decent shot but is really a defensive specialist. Johnson, who’s played 11 years in the NBA, will backup the point. He’s got a deadly rocket from outside, hitting 45% of his three-pointers. He averaged 5.6 PPG last year.
First-place in the Southeastern Division and fourth in the East are predicated for the Magic. Howard is the centerpiece of this team with a cadre of long shooters offering support. There’s depth, youth and athleticism; all of which should equal a run at the NBA Championship. Van Gundy is a fine coach who can get a lot out of whatever he has on-hand, and he’s got a lot on-hand with this team.