Some Inaccurate Criticisms of the Orlando Magic | Magic Basketball

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Aug 23

Some Inaccurate Criticisms of the Orlando Magic

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Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Via Bryan Crawford of SLAM ONLINE:

The moves that the Orlando Magic made which garnered them a grade of “A” last year is in stark contrast to the moves they made this year which earned them such a low mark. Yes, they’re still a team capable of winning it all, but even with Dwight Howard in the paint, this team is still primarily made up of guys who love to shoot from the outside and a squad built that way will never win a championship. Ever. Allowing your best perimeter defender (Matt Barnes) to leave and replacing him with someone (Quentin Richardson) who plays no defense at all was a real head scratcher. This puts even more pressure on Howard to defend the rim leaving him even more susceptible to foul trouble than he already is. Even with the Q deal and the re-signing of JJ Redick, Orlando did nothing to improve their chances of being a contender for the Eastern Conference crown. The Magic are still going to be a tough out in the East, but another appearance in the NBA Finals seems like a stretch at this point and Stan Van Gundy may find himself without a job after this season.

Three quick notes:

— Nearly everyone is enamored with the offensive philosophy of the Orlando Magic while they ignore that Dwight Howard anchors one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. That’s how the Magic got to the 2009 NBA Finals (first in Defensive Rating during the regular season in that year), and that’s ultimately what will determine whether or not they will win a championship before it’s all said and done. The axiom “defense wins championships” is cliched, without a doubt, but it means something in this particular situation.

— Matt Barnes wasn’t the best perimeter defender for Orlando. Mickael Pietrus was, and still is. As for Quentin Richardson, he does play defense and will likely be a superior fit with the Magic opposed to Barnes. However, one of the main elements that is being overlooked about Richardson is that he is a better shooter than Barnes and that means a lot. It was Barnes’ inability to spread the floor and be a threat on offense, among other things, that made him a liability in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics. And given Orlando’s small margin for error in winning a title, those little differences can matter a lot in the grand scheme of things.

— Head coach Stan Van Gundy may see himself without a job after this season? Anything is possible, sure, but it’s highly unlikely that Van Gundy will be unemployed beyond 2011 unless Orlando has a disastrous season. And that is also highly unlikely, even after taking account for the improvements of the Miami Heat and other teams in the Eastern Conference. It’s going to be a tough road ahead for the Magic, but there are still games to be played and nothing is set in stone.

19 comments
Billy (slickw143)
Billy (slickw143)

@Joey Crawford
Hah I actually meant to write the same thing at the end of my rant... The Magic "experiment" is ending prematurely since we're screwed over by LeBron-Wade-Bosh anyways.

Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@Bryan Crawford

Thanks for chiming in. If you don't feel you wrote anything wrong or inaccurate, feel free to refute what I stated.

Bryan Crawford
Bryan Crawford

I appreciate the convo Billy, but I've spent far too much time on the Orlando Magic than I ever intended to... Good luck this season!

Bryan Crawford
Bryan Crawford

Billy, my original intent was not to compare Dwight to Hakeem (who is better by a large margin) but to debunk the theory that the Magic could duplicate the Rockets success with the 1-in, 4-out offense because 1) Hakeem is so much more skilled than Dwight and therfore a much bigger threat offensively and 2) those Rockets team weren't as dependant on the 3 like the Magic are.

The same reasons Hakeem destroyed Shaq back in the day are the same reasons Pau destroyed Dwight in the Finals last year. Both were more skilled offensively than their counterparts. If you did actually see those Rockets teams play then you would know this and you wouldn't be arguing the merits of my position. Again, this is simple basketball stuff I'm talking here, not rocket science.

Also, I'm not sure how you come to the conclusion that Dwight is a better defender than Hakeem when Olajuwon averaged more blocks for his career and also averaged nearly 2 steals per game. Puzzling.

Outside of that, you didn't say much else in your rebuttal other than applauding Dwight Howard for having good footwork (laughable) when anybody who knows anything about basketball will tell you that's his number one flaw next to his FT shooting. Also, if you call two-handed dunks being able to make shots with both hands, then OK, I'll give you that. And I'm sorry, averaging 22ppg in a series Orlando lost 4-2 is anything but impressive.

You're a true "fan" though Billy, I can' take that away from you.

Joey Crawford
Joey Crawford

Why are you guys even arguing? It is pointless since the Heat are going to win every title anyways.

Billy (slickw143)
Billy (slickw143)

@Bryan Crawford
Nice jab with the age comment on the internet. Always a great way to kick off a debate. It's also a great way to close out an argument with the ever-hilarious "you can bring up stats, but they don't matter", especially when stats contradict some of your statements. Such as the fact that Hakeem was a better rebounder than Dwight, which isn't true at all. But y'know, you can say those things because stats won't change your perception. It also won't change your perception that I apparently have never watched Hakeem play, even though he's one of my favorite players of all-time. That's true even considering the fact he destroyed Shaq in a Finals I watched every single game of back in '95. I mean, wait, I didn't, I was born in 1998 and I just like to troll on the internet.

Truth of the matter is, you're harping on the fact that Hakeem is a better overall player than Dwight, when no one disputed that. Dwight's a better defender than Hakeem was by a small margin, but Hakeem was way better offensively and a better leader. Again, don't know where your harping came from. The reason why your zeal at defending this is silly is because Hakeem is possibly the best offensive center in this history of the NBA. Compare Dwight's offense to those currently in the NBA with the way the game is currently played. He compares rather favorably to just about everyone not named Pau Gasol. I can understand that you probably haven't watched any Magic games other than the Boston series and a couple nationally televised games during the regular season like most media guys out there (see, I can make backhanded assumptions too!), but Dwight has good footwork, he can make shots with both hands, he runs the floor exceptionally well to get good low-post position, and he's improved greatly as a passer even from the previous season to this past one.

If dunks/lay-ups result from his early positioning, uhhh is he supposed to be ashamed of that? One of your fellow writers, John Krolik, always liked to write about one thing that made LeBron so good is the fact that he could get himself in position to take easy, close shots whenever he wanted to. That's a skill in of itself. Why should Dwight take a fade-away or a 15-footer when he can put his defender on his back, and hit a jump hook from 6 feet out? Especially when he struggles so much against Boston's D, yet still manages to average almost 22 for the series against the best defensive team in the league.

Bryan Crawford
Bryan Crawford

Billy, you're ignoring the fact that Hakeem Olajuwon is much more skilled than Dwight Howard and that isn't an oversimplification of anything, it's a statement of fact.

I wonder if you're even old enough to remember those Rockets teams and the way that they played?

It all ran through Hakeem. He could put the ball on the floor, he could shoot the ball out to 15ft, and he was an exceptional passer. Dwight can do none of those things which makes him much less of an offensive threat and makes him and those shooters you're so crazy about much easier to defend. Plus, Hakeem was a better free-throw shooter, rebounder, shot-blocker, and passer.

And are you kidding me, Shaq in his prime was much, much, more skilled than Dwight is right now. It's seriously not even close. His footwork was 100 times better than Howard's making him 100 times more effective. If Dwight isn't out-muscling you and getting to the basket for dunks, he's not doing much else and that's because he can't.

And to your point about those Rockets teams, they used the 3-pointer as a weapon, it wasn't a staple of their offense like it is in Orlando; and the fact that Hakeem is much more skilled and could do so many things, it takes the pressure off the perimeter guys and gives them more room to work because he was a threat offensively and the defense has to account for him. That's the only way an offense like that can succed and because Dwight Howard is not as skilled, that's exactly the reason why it won't deliver a championship to Orlando.

And yes, Dwight Howard does depend on offensive rebounds, put-back layups, dunks, and alley-oops unless I've been missing something else that he does all of these years that I've been watching him. Unless you count that running hook that he has which is hit or miss and basically unreliable.

The more skilled your big-man, the easier the game is for everyone else.

So you can rattle off all the stats and percentages you want, but it won't change anything. The Magic can not and will not win an NBA Championship with that roster running that offense and you can take that to the bank my friend. That Finals appearance was fool's gold.

Billy (slickw143)
Billy (slickw143)

@Bryan Crawford
I don't see how it's a bad analogy, because the statement still stands... The Rockets won with an offense that revolved around a dominant big man and four shooters around him. They didn't take as many three's, but it was still a staple of their offense.

Saying the Magic can't win because Dwight isn't as good as Hakeem is oversimplifying everything involving the game of basketball. It's like saying the Heat shouldn't have won the 2006 title because Wade isn't as good as MJ was. You're ignoring the fact the Magic have had one of the best defenses the last two years. You're ignoring the fact the Magic have gotten to the Finals and gave LA a lot more trouble then people remember. It's ignoring the fact that the Magic's three-point shooters are more efficient shooters than Houston's were. You're ignoring match-ups that arise in the playoffs, such as how the Magic blew out a Hawks team that took apart Boston during the season, only for that same Boston team to do something similar to the Magic.

Dwight's offensive game isn't anywhere near as versatile as Hakeem's, but neither was Shaq's, although he was just as effective. You don't need an arsenal like Hakeem's to succeed as a big man, just a couple moves and a couple counters. Dwight has those, as well as one of the best PnR big men in the league. He led the league in FG% with his limited repertoire, so he must have been doing something right. And no, they weren't all dunks and alleys.

Bryan Crawford
Bryan Crawford

To the author of this blog, I feel the need to respond and defend what I wrote on SLAMonline about Orlando as I don't feel like I said anything that was wrong or inaccurate with the exception of the part about Van Gundy being fired although he just re-upped. Outside of that, no, I don't feel the Magic can win a championship with that roster and with the fact that they are so dependant on the 3 in their offense. You just can't win like that because outside shooting is just so unreliable and you can't depend on it. It's the reason why Ray Allen can go for an NBA record eight 3's in a Finals game and then turn around and go 0-8 the next game and only make 4 more the entire series and there isn't a shooter on the Magic better than him. And for those who tried to use Houston as an example that it can happen, it's a bad analogy because Hakeen Olajuwon is a much better player than Dwight Howard will ever be...and I like Dwight, he's one of my favorite people in the NBA. But his game is so one-dimensional and he's too limited offensively to even try and draw that comparison. I realize you feel obligated to defend your team, but I'm just talking basketball here.

Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@3.3

Nevertheless, Barnes shot at a percentage (31.9 percent) that mirrored his career average -- 32.9 percent. That's not good enough.

3.3
3.3

Honestly, I agree with you on most of this, but I'd put a caveat on one thing. I feel like Barnes was a better three-point shooter than the team gave him credit for. He had that slump early in the year, but he was decent from then on -- 35% or so, which is not great but it's worth taking.

So if there was a Barnes-related issue, it wasn't so much "Barnes couldn't make that shot" as "the team didn't trust Barnes enough to give him that shot, even at the cost of disrupting their offensive strategy."

I mean, not that any of this matters any more. Barnes is in LA, and we have Richardson, and no matter what you think of Barnes' three-point shooting, Richardson's definitely better at it. So problem solved, I suppose.

Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@Billy (slickw143)

I just think writers are grasping at straws when they insinuate that, somehow, Van Gundy's job is in trouble if the Magic don't do well this season.

@Hoop Dreams

A better question is which coach is theoretically available that can do a better job than Van Gundy? I can't think of anyone.

@Mikeyho

Richardson isn't getting any younger, either, but at least he's better than Barnes and that's all that matters.

@Ryan

It is what it is.

@JP, @JTF

It has happened before. More so with the 1995 Rockets team than the 1994 iteration, as well as some of the recent Spurs teams. Those are just a few examples of squads that have won titles running some form of the 4-out/1-in offensive scheme. Horry being the common catalyst.

@Harry

Defense wins championships, but not all the time.

Harry
Harry

Doesn't anyone remember when the Pistons DESTROYED the Lakers in 5 games in 2004 for the championship? Defense wins championships.

JTF
JTF

Its NEVER happened? What about when the Houston Rockets surrounded Hakeem with Maxwell, Smith, Horry,Drexel and Cassel then bombed away? There is no doubt Howard needs work on the offensive side of the ball, but he draws enough double teams to make the 3 pt shooters lethal.

JP
JP

"....this team is still primarily made up of guys who love to shoot from the outside and a squad built that way will never win a championship. Ever."

Oh, the arrogance! 'Its not happened before so wont ever happen in the future' reasoning is ridiculous and doesnt just apply to sports.

Its amazing how much our efficient driven offense (ie 3's) clouds some peoples perceptions.

Ryan
Ryan

Almost every criticism of the Magic is wrong somehow we have the best center in the NBA but terrible right? I dont listen to any of them because most of them are stupid

Mikeyho
Mikeyho

Agreed. It's ridiculous to think this style can't win a championship cause it almost did already and for the past two years we have the most successful team outside of the Lakers.

I agree Q-Rich is a much better fit for this team. Matt looked like he didn't belong in the Boston series and he's not getting younger.

And it should be noted that Dwight is the anchor, but our whole team certainly does play defense and the way we play defense is why our team is alway near the top of the league. Even if this guy doesn't think Q-Rich can play defense, he would only really understand Orlando's coaching and culture if he said that he expects Q-Rich to play much better defense this year on and Orlando Squad that values defense so much.

It is funny we're still known as an offensive team only because we shoot so many threes.

Since we replaced Matt Barnes for a 3 point shooter who most likely will step up his fitness and defense this year, then we eliminated one of our biggest weaknesses from last year and that could be huge.

Sure the Magic didn't overhaul again this year (and shouldn't have) but we are just as capable of winning a championship than any other team.

The summary is this off-season wasn't exciting but look at our roster, we have the most complete team we've had here in Orlando thus far.

Hoop Dreams
Hoop Dreams

Stan and Dwight have given this team an identity, for better or worse. The Magic are in the title conversation.

Which coach can the Magic ride to a title?

Van Gundy isn't going anywhere....

Billy (slickw143)
Billy (slickw143)

I just *love* the "Stan's on the Hot Seat!!!" comments from "journalists". They just signed him to an extension. I don't think there's any problems there, unless, as stated, the Magic have a terrible season. Even then, I think the center of the terribleness would have to be some kind of very nasty, very public feud between Dwight and Stan to make Otis hand Stan his pink slip.

Anyways, great job as usual. These are just a few of the many common inaccurate criticisms that get levied on the Magic.