Walter - I feel your pain re SD; they have had a huge injury list! I thing I note - doing analysis for AFL Australian football - is that teams with a huge injury list often underperform when they begin to get players back from injury; this is often because the injured players return a week too early and fail to fire (or get re-injured); also the players who have been carrying the extra load for them tend to relax that week; the trend in the AFL is that these teams generally miss the spread (often by a lot) as the year goes on - but they sometimes have 1 (maybe 2) unexpected wins against unwary middle to lower ranked teams. They may fire against JAX this week, but I would like a SD expert to tell us if the recently returned players are likely to improve.
Speaking of injuries - these are good reasons for being confident on TB and DEN this week. Harry Young, Melbourne
Magic Overall Team Grade:
The Magic were the "slide busters." What I mean by that is both of their picks were guys who were projected to go a lot higher, but were on massive slides. Orton is a long-term project and won't sniff the rotation for at least a couple of years. Robinson could potentially be a role player depending on what happens with free agent Matt Barnes. I would have liked to see Orlando add a guard with at least one of these picks though. (Grade: C-)
29. Daniel Orton, C, Kentucky
If Orlando keeps this pick, it's an interesting one. Orton was free-falling leading up to the draft because he is a serious project. He is worth the risk this late, but I can't help thinking the Magic might have been better suited getting someone who could contribute right away like a backup to Jameer Nelson or a possible wing replacement for Matt Barnes. (Pick Grade: Don't Get It)
59. Stanley Robinson, SF, Connecticut
I thought mock draft makers were drunk when I was seeing him in the first as recently as earlier this week. Yes, he is a freak of an athlete, but that's all about it. Still, for this late of a pick, why not considering Orlando could be losing Matt Barnes to free agency. (Pick Grade: Makes Sense)
2009-10 Season Summary:
By sweeping through the first two rounds of the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Magic seemed to be an unstoppable force on the way to their second straight appearance in the NBA Finals. That dominance quickly came to an end as Orlando was ousted from the postseason by the Celtics mainly because big-money gunners Rashard Lewis and Vince Carter laid an egg in the series and were non-factors for the most part.
Still, Orlando eclipsed the 50-win plateau for the third consecutive year led by Dwight Howard who once again won the Defensive Player of the Year Award and continues to develop into the dominant big man in the league, at least on one end of the floor. Balance proved to be a major asset on offense and the Magic were one of the best defensive teams in the league, helping them lead the NBA with a +7.5 point differential.
The Magic have made some major financial investments in this team and quite frankly, some of them have backfired. Lewis and Carter both saw a dip in their statistics and effectiveness on the offensive end where Orlando has been searching for a go-to wing player which is a major issue since they combined to eat up $37.8 million in salary. Last summer, management decided to match a huge contract offer for backup big man Marcin Gortat who made $5.85 million this past season, but only averaged 3.6 points and 4.2 boards per game. Free agent signing Brandon Bass also failed to be the spark Orlando was looking for off their bench. While the future is still very bright for the team, they still have some figuring out to do with their roster before they can become kings of the mountain.
Magic match 3-year, $19 million offer sheet for SG J.J. Redick
Magic sign G/F Quentin Richardson to 3-year deal worth reported $7.5 million
G/F Matt Barnes opts out of contract
Magic sign PG Chris Duhon to 4-year, $15 million deal
NBA Offseason Needs:
1. Remind Vince Carter he could be in the final year of his contract- It is a well known fact that Carter doesn't exactly try hard all the time and has been known to coast through games. Maybe if the Magic remind him that they own a team option on his contract for the 2011-2012 season that would pay him $18 million, he will bust his butt since he could be in a free agent year. Some extra motivation could prompt Carter to play with a little more fire and become that wing scorer Orlando needs to get them over the hump.
2. Small Forward- Matt Barnes has already stated that he will pass on his player option for next season and become a free agent, leaving Pietrus as the only small forward on the roster. If Orlando does not re-sign Barnes, they need to find a replacement and at an affordable price since they are incredibly over the cap. Barnes is a good fit with the Magic because he plays physical which is important with an undersized Lewis at power forward and a "sometimes I try, sometimes I don't" Vince Carter at shooting guard. Unless they can swing a trade or find someone they feel comfortable with at No. 29 in the 2010 NBA Draft, expect them to try and re-sign Barnes.
3. Point Guard- Jason "White Chocolate" Williams and Anthony Johnson are both free agents and in their mid-30s. With Jameer Nelson once again missing a decent chunk of games last year due to injury, the Magic need a solid backup who can also step in and start. With the 29th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, there should be a few point guards worth taking at that point, but also adding a veteran or re-signing one of their free agents would be a safe call as well.