The rise and fall of the Orlando Magic | Magic Basketball

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May 04

The rise and fall of the Orlando Magic

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

As the franchise attempts to sort out exactly what went wrong, where 2010-11 turned for the worse, they can point to a mystifying playoff shooting slump or to some superb clutch shots by the Atlanta Hawks’ Jamal Crawford and Joe Johnson or even to a few unfortunate bounces of the basketball.

But the [Orlando] Magic likely would be better served to recall Dec. 18, the day their team completed two high-risk trades that would define their season and might limit many of their seasons to come.

The team acquired Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Earl Clark from the Phoenix Suns for Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus, a 2011 first-round pick and cash. The Magic also obtained Gilbert Arenas for Rashard Lewis.

Those deals provided the Magic an immediate short-term infusion of energy and offensive skill that led to a nine-game winning streak in late December and early January. But the longer-term aftereffects weakened Orlando’s defense, put additional pressure on center Dwight Howard and didn’t give the team the additional offensive firepower it needed at playoff time. [...]

[Otis] Smith never could have foreseen that Richardson would get into an altercation with Zaza Pachulia that led to Richardson’s ejection for Game 3′s final minutes and Richardson’s subsequent Game 4 suspension. Smith also can’t be blamed for Richardson stepping on some broken glass while in bare feet last Tuesday, an accident that slowed Richardson in Game 5 and severely hobbled Richardson in Game 6.

Indeed, take away either the altercation or the accident, and the Magic might be preparing now for the playoffs’ second round.

But although Richardson displayed toughness, he didn’t develop into the consistent, dependable second scoring that the Magic needed to complement Howard on offense.

Neither did Turkoglu, who became more of a passer than a shooter after a mesmerizing 17-assist performance on Jan. 8 in Dallas. Indeed, Turkoglu made just over 29 percent of his shots in the playoffs and couldn’t match the quickness and explosiveness of his Atlanta counterpart, Josh Smith.

Starting in the next week or so, the rise and fall of the Orlando Magic as an elite team and championship contender will be examined by Magic Basketball in a three-part series — specifically by Nate Drexler, Danny Nowell, and myself.

Key events will be analyzed on a macro and micro level.

The macro side of things will encompass general manager Otis Smith’s construction and, in some ways, deconstruction of a franchise that appeared in the 2009 NBA Finals, only to regress the next two years by losing in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2010 and first round in 2011.

The micro side of things will touch on the signing of Rashard Lewis, a player that exemplified the rise and fall of the Magic in many ways. It’s Lewis’ arrival that triggered Orlando’s ascent to being one of the best teams in the NBA and it’s his eventual regression that signaled the end of that run of success. Also, the parallels between LeBron James (as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers) and Dwight Howard will be closely looked at, given that they are two players that have experienced similar career paths with the teams that originally drafted them. And like James, Howard’s future is under an intense microscope, given that everyone is trying to decipher whether he’ll remain with the Magic for the long-term or if he’ll move on and leave.

Stay tuned for these articles.

6 comments
Meeple Youuple
Meeple Youuple

 Great! If you could post a link here, I'd appreciate it! :)

Meeple Youuple
Meeple Youuple

HEY.....where are those articles?

I've yet to see them anywhere! what gives?

Meeple Youuple
Meeple Youuple

yes..... you are right about the defensive miscues on Bass.

Still, he did play very well and helped to get us those 2 games after going down 0-3
But the cutting and motion I'm talking about is movement OFF THE BALL (as opposed to standing in the corner gathering dust, waiting for Dwight to kick it over to you)

Basically, I am calling for player movement, IN ADDITION to ball movement.

You do not seem to be very scientific if you can discount (without examining) the role of the COACH in this whole debacle.

Meeple Youuple
Meeple Youuple

"Van Gundy is nowhere close to being the problem for the Magic. "

Are you kidding me?

It was about recognizing Bass' athleticism and penchant for rebounding (which Van Gundy didnt tap last year till too late) in the matchup against the Celtics.

VS the Hawks, the key would be interior shooting - inside the 3pt line but just out of the paint, GENERATED BY CUTTING AND MOTION.

The Ridiculous Van Gundy offense, with a stationary Dwight and 4 stationary "others" is ripe for the type of exploitation demonstrated by the Hawks.

How about even addressing the Magic's failure as an organization to develop their athletes MENTALLY as well as physically?

After all these years, Dwight is petulant, prone to technicals , and easily frustrated and thrown off his game. Van Gundy is a prime enabler of that behavior.

Your three part "expose" is a sham if it fails to address or at least examine Van Gundy's coaching style, decisions and demeanor.

Meeple Youuple
Meeple Youuple

What, no potential mention of Stan Van Gundy's smothering and choking (in every sense of the word) coaching style? His inability (or refusal) to adjust his system to his opponent, personnel or conditions on the floor?

(as seen last year, where he refused to play Brandon Bass until Game 4, with no room for error, allowing Nate Robinson, a wild card to tip the scales?)

Carlo Simone
Carlo Simone

I look forward to the articles. I know you'll be objective and not just try and rip my heart out.