- Justin Verrier of ESPN.com: “Defense wins championships. But MVPs? Not often. Such is the plight of [Dwight] Howard, who has won consecutive defensive player of the year trophies and compiled more blocks than a Lego warehouse the past two seasons but has been shut out from a top-three spot in the official MVP voting. The big culprit: his offensive game. To be fair, D-12’s repertoire of post moves has grown, but his points-per-game average actually dipped last season (from 20.6 to 18.3) as he battled foul trouble and hack-a-Howard tactics. Howard is so dominant on D that he’ll be a perennial MVP candidate, but he will never get the votes if he can’t stay on the court or make free throws.”
- Kyle Weidie of Truth About It makes the case for the Orlando Magic as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference: “After the Miami Heat, obviously, it will be the Orlando Magic battling for Eastern Conference supremacy … in front of the Celtics, and definitely in front of the Bulls, Hawks and Bucks. Why you ask? Well, let’s start with the depth. There’s not much turnover from last season’s 59-win team — they added a more solid backup guard in Chris Duhon, along with veteran Quentin Richardson and rookie Daniel Orton, and really only lost Matt Barnes. Jameer Nelson continues to be a leader by hosting his teammates for workouts in Philadelphia. And don’t forget that coach Stan Van Gundy signed a contract extension through 2012-13 (that constancy thing). Did I mention that Dwight Howard has been working with Hakeem Olajuwon this summer? The East has been warned. As Orlando continues to grow as a unit, while Miami tries to Frankenstein a three-headed monster and surrounding parts and Boston hires extra trainers to keep loose ligaments intact, best believe that the Magic will be in the picture to make the NBA Finals.”
- Marcin Gortat and Brandon Bass as goons? Austin Burton of Dime Magazine explains: “Another pick for the future. Now that the Magic have first-round pick Daniel Orton to develop as a legit backup for Dwight Howard, Bass and Gortat can become the NBA’s Acolyte Protection Agency. They should even go all-out and wear black gloves when they check into a game. Dwight has needed an enforcer (or two) for a while now.”
- The last person that needs an “enforcer” is Dwight Howard.
- Remember the 1996 Summer Olympic team?
- What would happen if the Boston Celtics had each player in the prime of their careers? Marc Normandin of Basketball Prospectus takes a look: “Just picture the options on offense each play—you have Allen or Pierce setting up the play, and either of them is a threat from range. Pierce was the best in the league at penetrating and drawing a foul, and both players are excellent free throw shooters. The 2007-08 Celtics were a force and champions with those two and Garnett shooting in close—now picture Shaq up the middle alongside Garnett, all four players younger and on fresher legs, and you wonder how anyone would have been able to defend them consistently.”