Magic Basketball Mailbag, 7/2/10 | Magic Basketball

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Jul 02

Magic Basketball Mailbag, 7/2/10

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Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

Here’s another installment of the Magic Basketball Mailbag.

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Do you see any positives in acquiring Carlos Boozer, besides satisfying Dwight Howard?

A great question and a timely one, given that Carlos Boozer has been linked to rumors associated with the Orlando Magic the past few days.

Let’s talk about the negatives first.

If the Magic’s goal in acquiring Boozer is to combat the length and frontcourt of the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers, the last two teams to defeat them in the playoffs, then they might have the wrong player in their sights. More so against the Lakers than the Celtics, just to clarify. It’s always tough to look at the numbers without knowing the full context behind them, but Boozer’s success against Kevin Garnett has historically been hit or miss. However, if we’re looking at Boozer’s performances against Garnett since he joined the Celtics, things don’t look too shabby. Boozer’s scoring and rebounding totals fall below his norms, but he partly makes up for things with excellent efficiency on offense. Granted, it’s also difficult to discern how Boozer performed on defense but that’s neither here nor there. Ultimately, Orlando’s downfall in the last two postseasons has been their inability to score against Boston and Los Angeles. Against the Celtics at least, Boozer can score efficiently enough even if he isn’t dropping 20-plus points … though he should be scoring that much, if not more. Knowing that Garnett isn’t getting any younger, Boozer might provide the scoring punch Orlando needs. Might.

However, against the Lakers, that’s a different story.

Boozer’s struggles on defense are well-documented (that’ll be a subject for another day, if need be), but he struggled mightily on offense against Los Angeles in the 2010 NBA Western Conference Semifinals and the statistics bear that out.

vs. Los Angeles Lakers MP PPG RPG APG BPG FG%
38.5 15.5 13.0 2.5 0.2 .446

More than anything else, Boozer was bothered by the length of Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum. Because of that, Boozer’s scoring took a nosedive compared to his tour de force against the Denver Nuggets in the first round and as a result, it’s no coincidence that the Utah Jazz got swept by the Lakers. There’s no question, at this point, that Los Angeles will remain the team to beat for the immediate future and assuming that Orlando is fortunate enough to make a return trip to the NBA Finals next year, Boozer might not be able to deliver the goods. Could Boozer’s fortunes change playing alongside Dwight Howard and company? Maybe. Maybe not. Fortunately for this exercise, the Jazz have faced off against the Lakers in the playoffs in three consecutive years, so there’s scads of data to point out that Boozer’s struggles might be too glaring to believe a change in scenery will invite a change in luck. Another issue that needs to be mentioned briefly is that, overall, Boozer doesn’t get to the free-throw line a lot.

Playoffs vs. Career MP PPG RPG APG BPG FG%
vs. Los Angeles Lakers (15 games) 38.5 17.4 13.0 2.6 0.2 .454
career (per 36 minutes) N/A 19.0 11.2 2.7 0.5 .541

There are positives to acquiring Boozer, though, but it depends on whom the Magic give up in a theoretical sign-and-trade. Rather than shoot in the dark and looking at things from a talent perspective, Boozer would be a boon for the Magic in pick and rolls. It’s no secret that Orlando likes to run pick and rolls frequently and with Jameer Nelson at the helm, they would have pick and roll options up the wazoo. The Magic could opt for 1/5 pick and rolls with Nelson and Howard, or opt for 1/4 pick and pops with Boozer for the sake of diversity. Boozer can be a roll man, too, of course.

Also, Boozer would make the best defensive rebounding team in the NBA a better one.

2009-2010 regular season RPG DRB% TRB%
Marcus Camby 11.8 31.9 22.2
Dwight Howard 13.2 31.3 22.0
Samuel Dalembert 9.6 30.7 21.8
Carlos Boozer 11.2 29.9 19.4
Tim Duncan 10.1 26.8 18.9

Boozer’s rebounding statistics were excellent this year and have always been top-notch. Think about it. Orlando was already the best defensive rebounding team in the league and that was with Rashard Lewis at power forward, who rebounds more like a small forward. Of course, Howard and Boozer would encroach on each other’s rebounds here and there, but there would still be an improvement in the starting lineup in that department.

Finally, Boozer is a gifted passer for a player his size. That’s a skill that, perhaps, is undervalued about Boozer and that’s a shame. In the Magic’s system offensively, Boozer’s passing would be something of value since there will be many kick-outs to shooters on the perimeter or dump-offs to Howard on the low block.

The question begs to be asked — is Boozer the player that puts Orlando over the top? Pausing and having to think about it is an answer in itself. Boozer isn’t a slam dunk for the Magic and unfortunately in this environment, where the Lakers aren’t going away any time soon and the Eastern Conference is experiencing a potential seismic shift in power, that’s not good enough for general manager Otis Smith. That’s not to say things couldn’t work out with Boozer, but it’s fair to say “proceed with caution.”

By the way, it’s worth noting that Boozer holds his own against Chris Bosh but against Amar’e Stoudemire … umm.

If the Carter/Arenas trade happens, who do you think is more reliable?

First off, the trade won’t happen but let’s proceed with the hypotheticals.

At this point in their careers with Vince Carter and Gilbert Arenas, one is as good as the other which makes this a tough decision to make. From a health standpoint, Carter. From a skill standpoint, Arenas. The problem is, even if Arenas is healthy, he isn’t the same player he once was. And neither is Carter for that matter. But as was explored a few days ago, Arenas would be a bad fit with the Orlando Magic because he’s a high-usage/low efficiency player offensively, there’s no guarantee he will remain healthy given his injury history with his knees, and he’s a poor defender. Yes, Carter didn’t produce for the Magic in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals when push came to shove, but he has less negatives than Arenas. It’s almost like picking the lesser of two evils.

The answer is Carter, though an argument can be made for Arenas.

To what degree is it true that the Magic do not have a bench player who is able to reliably create his own shot?

J.J. Redick debunks that “myth” in a hurry.

If need be, Redick can create his own shot. That’s one of the main reasons why Redick had a career year. It was because Redick evolved as a player, and began to display the ability to manufacture his own shots, whether it was off the dribble, in pick and rolls, or from screens. Also, Redick has begun to develop a reputation in the NBA as an underrated and efficient playmaker, and that’s because he not only can make plays for others but for himself, too.

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Thanks for the questions!

If you have a question for the mailbag, you can reach me at eddy.rivera7 [at] gmail [dot] com

6 comments
Alex
Alex

Sorry, I was under the impression the Magic were packaging Gortat/Bass/Pietrus in trades.

Truth be told, I don't really want Boozer on the team. I want someone who can drive to the basket and finish or pass, which probably won't happen. These things are fun to dream about though.

Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@Alex

If the Magic traded for Boozer, there's almost no way they'd be able to keep Carter. They'd be committing too much salary to the starters, and they're already paying close to $100 million in salaries when including their luxury tax payments.

I'm not saying that acquiring Boozer is a bad idea. The roster would improve, but there's no guarantee that Boozer's presence will get Orlando over the hump against teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and whoever else.

Alex
Alex

I think using these numbers don't show how Boozer would impact the Magic. These are numbers where he and Deron Williams are the only real offensive options.

For the Magic, tell me what lineup you think is better:

Nelson
Carter
Lewis
Boozer
Howard

Or

Nelson
Carter
Barnes (maybe)
Lewis
Howard

Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@MagicBasketballOnline

That's another reason, sure.

@BandrewG

I don't think Boozer's strength as a rebounder would be canceled out if he were to play with the Magic. I think Boozer and Howard would encroach on each other a bit, but the Lakers have proven you can have a multitude of good rebounders and have an advantage in that area of the game. Remember, rebounding is one of the Four Factors in winning and the Lakers won the NBA Finals thanks in large part to their exploits on the boards in Game 7 against the Celtics. It's fair to say that Boozer's rebounding wouldn't be maximized, but it'd still be an asset.

You make another excellent point when talking about Boozer's contract ... he doesn't deserve a max deal, but he'll get it in this economic climate in the NBA where Milicic is getting $20 million from the Timberwolves. On the flip-side, though, the Magic have to maximize the current window and worry about the costs later. It's why the Lakers don't care about giving long-term contracts to Artest and now, Steve Blake, because they're in the business of winning titles. Ditto with Orlando.

The move, ultimately, might not put the Magic over the top and that's a legitimate concern. But it's not set in stone that Boozer CAN'T help Howard and company get that ring. There's always that unknown factor.

BandrewG
BandrewG

Awesome, thanks for taking the time to answer that.

If we were to add him, I like that he would add another reliable option to our offense, especially since he fits perfectly into the pick & roll. I also overlooked his passing ability, which makes him a real threat in the high-post along with his solid jump shot and ability to take his man off the dribble. He would definitely have plenty of room to operate one-on-one, because the other defenders HAVE to stick to the shooters and especially Dwight. He could be valuable in late game situations, since he can create his own shot. His offensive rebounding would more than make up for the off. rebs we would lose in Barnes. Though I do worry about how he could struggle against the Lakers. Hopefully, being on a new team would make a big difference in how he performs against them.

You mentioned defensive rebounding as one of the positives, and it is no doubt one of his greatest strengths. But I think that strength would just get cancelled out coming to what was already the best defensive rebounding team in the league. Sure, it would improve them and they would probably repeat as the best def. rebounding team, but that department isn't in need of an upgrade. Don't get me wrong, we are going to need as many rebounds as we can get, especially if Dwight gets into foul trouble. But I think defensive rebounding is one of the few things Boozer is great at (and maybe the only thing, defensively), and it wouldn't be maximized here, thus wasting one of his talents and leaving him useless on defense.

Also, if he were to come in a S&T, it is more than likely (at the rate this market is going) that he would sign a max contract similar to Joe Johnson's 6 year, $120 million deal. Or more appropriately, Rashard's 6 year, $118 million contract. Yikes. That would commit us to two 30 year old forwards for the next 4-6 years. I see a potential Boozer deal as our last shot at a big name guy for the next few years, meaning he would be deemed "the missing piece." I don't want us to be the team that makes the mistake of giving a max contract to a player that is undeserving of one. We've already done that once.

I think Otis would be making the move to satisfy those clamoring for a traditional power forward and to keep up with the other East squads making big moves. But this move doesn't put us over the top and depending on who we would have to give up, could actually be a step back.

MagicBasketballOnline
MagicBasketballOnline

To further add to the Vince Carter over Gilbert Arenas "pro" list... Vince has been in the system for a full season and the team knows each others strengths and weaknesses. I can't imagine why the team would ever trade for an equal or lesser (he is definitely lesser) player with that being considered.