Posts Tagged ‘Orlando Magic

08
Oct
09

Magic and Pistons:Who starts and comes off the bench?

82875250FM017_Magic_Carter

Trying to find playing time for every player on the bench is a sometimes daunting task for even some of the NBA’s best coaches. When teams are in a losing streak, sometimes coaches try and shake things up by alternating which players start and come off of the bench. Even on some rare occasions, management may decide to bring a star player back from injuries a little slow and limit their minutes by also bringing them from the bench. When the latter occurs, their is usually a backlash from the star player which sometimes creates irreparable harm to team chemistry and the player/coach relationship. For an example look no further than last season’s A.I./ Detroit Pistons fiasco.

Coach Stan Van Gundy, of the Eastern Conference Champion Orlando Magic has no such problem. He actually has a few players who prefer to ride the pine and be injected for instant offense or as a late game defensive specialist. I read recently that forward Mickael Pietrus, who was spectacular in the Magic’s postseason run, has told his head coach that he wants to come off the bench in games. Pietrus and newly acquired Matt Barnes were in a battle through training camp to decide who would be the starting small forward. It appears that Pietrus, who averaged 9.4 points in 24+ minutes mostly as a reserve last season, has stepped aside and made Van Gundy’s decision for him. Matt Barnes, who is entering his first season in Orlando, had been mostly a journeyman NBA player having been on 7 teams in his 6 seasons, before having perhaps his best season averaging double figures in scoring with Golden State last season. Known primarily for his defense, Barnes apparently found his offensive stroke by averaging 10.2 points while starting 40 games for the Warriors and seemed to flourish under coach Don Nelson’s system. Both Barnes and Pietrus are known to play excellent defense with Pietrus regularly getting the unenviable assignment of guarding the other team’s best player, like during the postseason when he did his best to contain Lebron and Kobe.

91022348FM002_Magic_MediaDay

Of course for the team’s first 10 games, all bets are off since Rashard Lewis who usually plays the PF spot, will not be available because of his steroid suspension and consequently will cause some roster shuffling. One would assume that Brandon Bass would take over the starting PF spot alongside Barnes or Pietrus at the 3 spot. Van Gundy may decide to go with a smaller lineup during those first ten games depending on the opponent and have Vince Carter play at SF with Jameer Nelson at SG, allowing Jason Williams some time at the point. Van Gundy definitely has some options with such deep team.

Rip hamilton

It is just refreshing to actually here a player comply with a coach’s wishes or volunteer to come off of the bench to achieve the team’s goal of winning a championship and not behave badly like Iverson’s multiple tirades(twicehe did it in Philly too when Chris Ford was coach) of taking offense at not starting. Detroit may be in for the same situation all over again with Rip Hamilton and new free agent Ben Gordon. Hamilton made it known that he also wasn’t kosher with a bench role along with A.I. last season. Gordon, I’m sure, came to Motown to start rather than be a reserve. If not, he is being handsomely paid for sitting on the bench. I speculate that Detroit isn’t big enough for the both of them and Hamilton will be traded before the season is up.

New Look Pistons Basketball

 

Advertisements
06
Oct
09

Top 10 NBA Players at a Career Crossroads

Which NBA Players have taken their careers for granted, and not given their team 100% effort? Which high draft picks must either step up their game or consider retirement? What NBA veterans, because of a change in coach, team, or their team’s style of play will be forced to take on a different role than they have been used to throughout their career? Which players have suffered numerous injuries and are possibly being given their last chance to be a valuable player for their team? All are important questions which will undoubtedly be played out and answered during the upcoming NBA season. Here is my list of players who must change their game or find themselves riding the pine or at the unemployment line.

Darko Milicic

Darko Milicic(NYK) – When the Knicks traded Q-Rich to Memphis for the rights to Darko, everyone in NY figured that the move was made for 2010 salary space. After 6 disappointing seasons of 5.5 ppg and 4 rebs , Darko will be given one more chance to prove he is a NBA player or forever be placed on NBA Draft Bust lists(if he isn’t already). The ’03 draft is remembered as one of the best in recent memory but not because of (#2) Milicic.

Sam Dalembert mohawk

Sam Dalembert(PHI) – Since receiving a huge contract for averaging 11.6 ppg and 12.8 rebs in a first round playoff loss to the Pistons in ’05, Slammin’ Sammy has regressed, seeing his scoring(6.4 ppg), minutes(24.8), and Blocks(1.7) drop to their lowest last year, since his rookie campaign. He has had issues with giving effort and staying out of foul trouble. With Elton Brand and Jason Smith back from injuries and 2nd year player Maurice Speights pushing for playing time, I don’t see where he fits in new coach Eddie Jordan’s rotation.

Andrew Bynum

Andrew Bynum(LAL) – Andrew Bynum is the definition of talented but prone to injury. After multiple knee injuries, Bynum is expected once again to be at or near 100% for the upcoming season. Although he averaged 14.3 ppg and 8 rebs in 50 games and is signed through 2012, Bynum will be given the opportunity as a major contributor. If he succumbs to another major injury, he could drift into draft bust territory as a former(’05) lottery pick.

Eddie Curry

Eddy Curry(NYK) – For Curry’s sake, he should be motivated to be in shape and contribute on a bad Knick team who is already looking forward to the 2010 free agency sweepstakes. Since averaging a career high 19.5 ppg in ’07, Curry has played in only 62 games and his scoring dipped to 13.2 and dismal 1.7 ppg. Even though it is doubtful he will remain on the Knicks roster past the trade deadline, he needs to show something if he hopes to remain on any team’s roster past next season.  His recent injury won’t help matters.

Grizzlies Media Day Basketball

Allen Iverson(MEM) – Although A.I. can still play at a high level, the future HOFer is no longer among the league’s elite players and it appears that he is having some trouble accepting that fact. After refusing to come off of the bench last season in Detroit, the team actually paid him to stay away. Hopefully the humbling experience of not receiving any long term offers this Summer. and accepting a 1 year deal in Memphis, will give him a sense of reality and finally become a team player………….lol.

AndrewBogut007

Andrew Bogut(MIL) – It’s tough to live up to being a #1 overall draft pick. Bogut has been good, but not great. He has shown flashes of potential and has has career highs of 14.3 ppg in ’08 and 10.3 rebs in ’09 and is still one of the pieces the the Bucks look to build around. One could argue that he has been hindered by a lack of a talented point guard to play with, but that will change this season with the addition of Brandon Jennings, meaning that there will be no more excuses.

Baron Davis fear the beard

Baron Davis(LAC) – Davis is coming off of his worst season in years. The 2 time All Star and 17 ppg career scorer who was once considered one of the league’s fiercest competitors saw his scoring(14.9ppg) dip to it’s lowest in the past 9 seasons. At age 30, has the toll of more than 700 NBA games taken their toll on his surgically repaired knees or did he just have a bad year. The Clippers have surrounded him in LA with some outstanding talent to return to star status. Or will Baron be overtaken by the Clipper curse?

D060848011.jpg

Michael Beasley(MIA) – Can a player be at a career crossroads after just one season? Beasley will answer just that after admitting or not to having a substance abuse problem and going into rehab. Obviously Beasley is still a young(20) man who likes to have fun and not follow the rules but he needs to mature very quickly since he has already had a few offcourt incidents which may or may not have affected his play. Most players would kill for rookie stats of 13.9 points and 5.4 rebounds but they don’t live up to the standards for a player of Beasley’s caliber. He has already been involved in trade talks as bait in bringing Utah’s Carlos Boozer to Miami.

82875250FM017_Magic_Carter

Vince Carter(ORL) – At age 32, Vinsanity is entering new territory in his career. Carter has amazed all of us with his ability to take over games as the go to guy in both Toronto and New Jersey. He now must become one of the best role players in the NBA since the Orlando Magic are already stacked with talent and have one of the league’s best go to guys in Dwight Howard. The knock on Carter has always been his penchant for jacking up 3 pt shots, sometimes too often and at inopportune times. How Carter adjusts to playing within coach Van Gundy’s system and becoming a complimentary player may be the Magic’s biggest question going into the season.

Amare Stoudemire

Tie, Gilbert Arenas(WAS), Tracy McGrady(HOU), Amare Stoudemire(PHO), and Elton Brand(PHI) – It’s hard to put players on this list because of injuries but each of these players have missed significant time in their careers due to injury. Arenas and McGrady are probably at the biggest crossroads since they have suffered the worst injuries. Both are supposedly almost at full strength but are returning to different situations. Arenas has a good supporting cast waiting for him on a good team while T-Mac will return to a Houston squad in rebuilding mode. Brand has missed almost two full seasons due to Achilles and shoulder issues. His outlook appears good since he is on a rising young team in Philly with plenty of talent around him and is implementing an offense which favors multi-talented big men(see Antawn Jamison and Chris Webber). Stoudemire is not so lucky to be on a young team like Brand, but is on an aging team on the way down. All Summer long there have been rumors of his departure to another NBA city.

06
Sep
09

Who Are Candidates for NBA Comeback Player of the Year?

Which former superstar will overcome injuries and make a comeback? This upcoming season’s list of possible Comeback Player of the Year Award nominees could read like an All-Star roster. Even though the NBA doesn’t officially give out the award, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at which players have the opportunity to be considered the best comeback players. The criteria would be that each player must have been at an All-Star caliber level at some point in their career and who’s numbers have dropped recently because of injuries, played on a bad team, or just had an off season.

 

T-Mac

Tracy McGrady – The player known as T-Mac has not made a major contribution to his Houston Rockets team for the past 2 seasons. Playing in only 97 games since ’07, McGrady has averaged 21.6 and 15.6 points the past two years. While this may be considered good for some players, it is not what we are used to from the 2 time scoring champion(’03 and ’04) and 7 time All-Star. As great players usually do, he upped his scoring average to 28.5 points even though he has never won a 1st round series. Back and knee injuries have ravaged the one time top 5 player, but recent reports have him rehabbing well and on the road to full recovery. At age 30, T-Mac could still be a great player if healthy. Putting up monster numbers for a rebuilding Rockets team seems tough since he doesn’t have much help. At $23+ million this season, Houston hopes he comes back hard!

Gilbert Arenas

Gilbert Arenas The Hibachi has been seen all over the internet recently testing out his surgically repaired knee. Footage was accidentally purposely leaked of Gil playing at Barry Farms in Washington DC this Summer as well as playing in the Chicago Pro Am while training for his comeback. The man with many nicknames like Agent 0, and most recently, Black President, was once one of the league’s hardest players to guard during the ’05-’07 seasons where he averaged between 25 and 30 ppg. The 3 time All-Star has three 50+ scoring games, even scoring 60 during the ’06 season. Since ’07 ,the Wizards franchise player has appeared in only 15 regular season games averaging 17.6 points because of two surgically repaired knees. As the video footage showed, Gil looks good and claims to be at 90% of his former self. There are once again high hopes in Washington with a good supporting cast and only at age 27, Arenas could still have many good years ahead of him.

Elton Brand

Elton Brand – It bothers Elton Brand that he never has truly been able to show the Philly faithful what he has to offer. He had high hopes coming to Philadelphia and joining a contending team which  has made the postseason the past two seasons with a young and talented nucleus of players after playing his heart out for perrenial NBA doormat LA Clippers for the previous 6 seasons. He averaged only 15.9 points and 9.8 rebounds before dislocating his shoulder in December. When he returned he would come back slowly from the bench and finished averaging only 13 points and 8 rebounds, which is a far cry from the 2 time All-Star’s career numbers of 20 points and 10 rebounds. He is still one of 6 current players to average 20 and 10. While in very good company, he will have had 6 months of time off which should be plenty of time to be 100% going into ’09-’10. A new coach, offensive system, and point guard should do Brand some good. I look for a strong return next season from EB24.

Garnett

Kevin Garnett – Everyone in the Celtic organization missed The Big Ticket for the final 25 regular season games and the playoffs. The 12 time All-Star averaged only 15.8 points and 8.5 rebounds before sustaining a right knee sprain which occured during a game with the Utah Jazz in February. Garnett could only play cheerleader during his team’s loss to the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Semi-Finals. One has to wonder that even though he is not ancient, at age 33, how the toll of playing more than 1100 NBA games straight from high school has taken a toll on the one time MVP’s knee joints. Garnett who has career averages of 20.2 points and 11.1 rebounds, dipped to 18.8 and 8.8 during the Celtics ’08 Championship season. While he may be voted an All-Star when he returns, I doubt he will ever return to superstar status.

Amare Stoudemire

Amare Stoudemire – Stoudemire is seemingly on this list every year, but it is only because he has so much potential. He missed the final 29 games of the regular season because he sustained a detatched retina to the same eye which he injured in preseason in February. Before the injury he averaged 21.4 points and 8.1 rebounds in his 7th season. Stoudemire seemed to be finally fully recovering from microfracture surgery in ’05, which was his best season averaging 26 ppg. With Coach Alvin Gentry bringing back the uptempo offense we are used to, and Steve Nash resigned for two more years, Stoudemire will have might have the best chance on this list to put up big numbers. At age 26, Amare definately has the most upside of anyone on this list.

Jameer Nelson 1

Jameer Nelson – Jameer Nelson has two meaningful tatoos across his back, All Eyes on Me and Accomplish Everything Without Fear. Both sum up his offseason coming back from a dislocated shoulder. Even though the Magic made news by letting Hedo Turkoglu go to Toronto and bringing Vince Carter to Orlando, All eyes are on Nelson, who is probably the most important player on the team. He is the floor general that brings it all together for a team that has aspirations of returning to the Finals. If healthy,he could be the piece of the puzzle that pushes them over the top. Before the injury, Nelson averaged 16.7 points, 5.4 assists, and selected for his first All-Star Game. Nelson, who was a former Naismith Player of the Year at St. Joe’s University, is supposedly back to All-Star form. If so, watch out Eastern Conference, because we have not seen the best of Jameer Nelson.

24
Aug
09

Jameer Nelson Shows the Magic Some Brotherly Love

550_Jameer2

If anyone had any doubts about Jameer Nelson’s injured shoulder, he proved them wrong last week by making an appearance at a Phillies home game vs the Diamondbacks,and throwing out the first pitch. Many of his Magic teammates were along to witness their point guard’s appearance and even took in some pregame batting practice and watched the game from a luxury box at the stadium.

That wasn’t the only reason that the former St. Joe’s product and National Player of the Year in ’04, was back in his hometown. He annually runs his own training camp with his Magic teammates like Vince Carter, Matt Barnes, Rashard Lewis and Philly natives and current players like Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Mo Speights, Kyle Lowery(Philly native and former Villanova pg), and Dionte Christmas(Temple). Since making it out of the crime infested Philadelphia suburb of Chester, Nelson has been a model teammate while in the NBA.

Nelson also spoke to his former Chester High coach, Fred Pickett, whom with he won 2 PA State Championships, about getting a Chester AAU basketball program under way. The Chester area has produced many Division 1 and NBA caliber talents like Tyreke Evans with the Sacramento Kings, Nasir Robinson at Pitt, Darren Govens at St. Joe’s, and Nelson with the Magic.

Most teams encourage players to work on their game during the offseason but very few actually follow through. They savor the time off and rest their aching knees and other ailments from the rigors and pounding of an NBA season. Nelson is one of the few who organize a training camp of their own to improve and get acclimated with new teammates.

The Magic need a healthy Nelson, who averaged 16.7 points and 5.4 assists and named to the All-Star Team before the injury, to compete in an ever improving Eastern Conference and get back to the Finals.

Jameer Nelson 1

18
Aug
09

NBA Offseason Power Rankings

Every two weeks during the offseason, we at the Haven, will rank the Top 10 teams based on free agent moves, player development, and trades.

Celtics big 3

1) Boston – Adding Rasheed Wallace to a talented team that took Orlando to 7 games last season without Garnett means trouble for the NBA.  Resigning “Big Baby” Davis helps offset the loss of Leon Powe.  The only thing that can stop the C’s is the I word………………injuries.

2) San Antonio – Another already talented team that adds Richard Jefferson and Dejuan Blair through the draft to play off the bench.  Injuries to Parker and Ginobili are a concern.  If healthy, they are better than the Lakers out West……..at least on paper.

3) LA Lakers – You can at least book a return trip to the Western Finals.  Ron Artest will help especially on defense.  Getting Odom back was crucial.  Factor in the Zenmaster and Kobe’s quest to “Be Like Mike”and LA may be playing for another title.

4)Orlando – You know Dwight Howard is the best big man in the game when other teams bring in players to stop YOU(See Cleveland).  At age 32, Vinsanity finally doesn’t have to carry a team since this is the best team he has ever been on.  A healthy Jamir Nelson, former NCAA POY and All-Star is a difference maker.

5) Cleveland – Adding the 4 time champion,”Big Shaqtus” from Phoenix to get past Orlando is a good move……..but not enough.  An older and slower O’Neal might clog the lane and  get in an even better, Lebron’s path to the basket.  Winning 66 games again may be tougher in an improved Eastern Conference.

6) Portland – The addition of Miller at the point should do wonders for a young Blazers squad in need of a veteran leader.  The move should take the some pressure off of the underrated Roy who can concentrate on scoring and defense.  Portland could have the best young developing frontcourt in the league in Aldridge and Oden,…………… if healthy

7) Denver – The Nuggets return essentially the same team from last season’s Western Conference Finals squad.  The drafting of Ty Lawson from UNC gives a good change of pace for Billups who’s not getting any younger………………………..Nuggets stay the same+Lakers, Spurs, and Blazers improve=Not good!

8) Washington – It’s not a typo………..With a little luck on the injury front, the Wizards could be the 4th best team in the East.  Don’t underestimate the additions of Foye and Miller to an already great nucleus of Arenas, Jamison, and Butler.  An improving JaVale McGee will help defensively against opposing big men.

9) Toronto – The EuroRaptors and Chris Bosh will be good but not great.  Adding the playoff proven Turkoglu helps but doesn’t come close to other teams improvements like the top teams in the East.

10) Atlanta – The young Hawks have something good brewing in Atlanta.  An aging Bibby is a good architect to a nest of budding stars in Smith, Horford, and a resigned Williams.  The Hawks did right by waiting for their players to develop since their wasn’t a free agent move out there to put them in the title hunt.  The best is yet to come………….  

Next 5Dallas, Utah, Miami, New Orleans, and Philadelphia

17
Aug
09

Is the Eastern Conference Stronger Than the West?

Garnett

Since the ’98-’99 season, the Western Conference has produced the eventual NBA Champion 8 times in 11 seasons. Only Detroit in ’04, Miami in ’06, and Boston in ’08 have won an NBA title from the East. In addition, the West has just been a deeper conference from #1 through #8 from teams making the playoffs. Case in point being Phoenix last season winning 46 games and missing postseason play where 46 wins would have been the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference. Whether it was parity or good competition, the East’s final #5 through #12 seeds were constantly in flux right until the regular season finale, with the final 3 spots finishing with record of .500 or under. The West’s top seeds beat up on the bottom teams within the conference as evidence of their conference records and that the #10 – #15 teams all had winning percentages below 36%.

The ’09-’10 season should see a swing in power to the East. Through player movement in free agency, prime talent returning from injuries, or young nucleuses maturing, the East could have upwards of 6 teams winning 50+ games. Boston, Cleveland, Orlando, Toronto, Atlanta, and Washington are all capable of reaching the 50 win plateau.

Boston, Cleveland, and Orlando should be legitimate title contenders through free agent acquisitions. Boston has now has the “Big 4″ for teams to contend with since adding Rasheed Wallace to the ’08 Championship trio of Garnett, Pierce, and Allen, along with budding star Rajon Rondo, who may challenge for an All-Star spot. Cleveland has added “Shaq Diesel“, “The Big Cactus”, or whatever O’Neal, the 7 foot, 4 time NBA Champion calls himself these days along with a slew of new supporting players to add to a team that won 66 games and had the best record in the league. Orlando chose addition by subtraction by choosing not to resign Hedo Turkoglu and bringing in Vince Carter, an 8 time All-Star from New Jersey, to a team that advanced all the way to the Finals last season.

The second tier teams in the East, Washington, Atlanta, and Toronto, have improved in different ways to almost certainly reach 50 wins as well. If healthy, the Wizards could vie for a #4 seed since they have made a decision to win now by trading their draft selections to Minnesota for a few good role players to compliment a talented trio of Jamison, Butler, and the oft injured Arenas. Toronto has two reasons for trying to improve in the standings. The Raptors have brought in Orlando Magic castoff Turkoglu and a few supporting players to try and move from mediocrity to contender and to persuade 2010 possible free agent Chris Bosh, to stay North of the border. Atlanta kept it’s young but talented nucleus intact for another run by resigning veteran Mike Bibby to be paired with newly re-upped Marvin Williams, Joe Johnson, and talented big men Josh Smith and Al Horford.

Miami, Philadelphia, and Chicago, while mired in mediocrity, have done little to this point to improve on their near .500 records and should be in the mix for the final two playoff spots with a noticeable dropoff with the rest of the East’s bottom tier teams.

Out West, only San Antonio and the LA Lakers are legitimate title contenders. The Lakers essentially return the same roster as last season’s championship squad with the exception of another adding by subtracting scenario. The Lakers allowed Trevor Ariza to defect to Houston while recruiting former Defensive Player of the Year, Ron Artest to Hollywood which is an obvious upgrade. San Antonio may now boast of having the deepest and most talented roster in the league by adding one of the NBA’s all around talents in Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess to future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan, and explosive guards, Parker and Ginobili. The West’s top two have improved to a greater degree than the rest of the conference and should separate themselves accordingly.

Although other Western teams are good, they aren’t on par with the NBA’s top contenders or even some of the second tier teams of the East. Denver through experience and veteran leadership, and Portland with their plethora of future young stars will hopefully prove me wrong by season’s end. The Denver Nuggets proved they are close by advancing all the way to the Western Finals last season and will try to improve after adding depth to an already talented roster through the draft. Although Portland, who with the addition of floor general Andre Miller should take some of the pressure off of the underrated and newly extended, Brandon Roy, are probably still a year or two away but would like to improve on their 54 wins and #4 seed last year.

In my opinion, the teams out West will see a drop off in wins after the top 4 teams. In the lead for the #5 seed should be the Dallas Mavericks. By resigning their on-court leader in Jason Kidd and bringing in Shawn Marion and other sharpshooters to be paired with Nowitzki, Terry, and Howard, the Mavs should be again be a very potent offensive quad but even things out by not playing much defense. New Orleans, while having arguably the best point guard in the league in CP3, better scorers in Doug West, and now having one of the best defensive big men in Okafor, are hamstrung by finances and will be hard pressed to duplicate their 49 wins last season. The consistently good Utah Jazz may have a decrease in wins depending on where they will undoubtedly dump their talented but unhappy leading scorer, Carlos Boozer and who or what they get back for him.

Two of the annual playoff participants in past seasons, Houston and Phoenix, should experience a major decline in wins because of injuries and player defections through free agency. This could create a logjam for the final few playoff spots which is similar to what the East has experienced the past couple of years. Young and talented squads like Golden State, Oklahoma City, and even the LA Clippers may contend for a spot in the postseason.

For the first time in a long while, I look forward to this wide open NBA season since so many teams have improved and have a shot at the title, especially in the Eastern Conference. I just wish my 76ers could compete with the big boys. Well, as long as we beat the Knicks……..!

lebron




About the Author:

Allen Moll is an avid NBA and College Basketball fan who watches and studies games religiously and coaches youth basketball in his native Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. Allen also writes for thehoopdoctors.com, Bleacherreport.com, and UpperDeckblog.com.

Favorite teams include everything Philly, like Sixers, Eagles, Phillies, Villanova , St. Joe's , Hoops, LaSalle, and Lehigh University Hoops.

Contact info: mollallen@yahoo.com

Categories

Calendar

October 2017
M T W T F S S
« Oct    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031