Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
On Christmas Day, the Orlando Magic kick off their 2011-2012 season on the road against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder are seen by many as the favorites to win the Western Conference, while the Magic are trying to figure out how to best handle that Dwight Howard situation you may have heard about.
To preview Orlando’s journey, Magic Basketball teamed up with Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post and Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus to give our takes on the battle for a starting spot between power forwards Ryan Anderson and Glen Davis, Howard’s chances of winning the Defensive Player of the Year award for a fourth consecutive season, and more.
Sidenote: make sure to buy Pro Basketball Prospectus 2011-12!
Between Ryan Anderson and Glen Davis, who should start at power forward for the Orlando Magic on Christmas Day?
Evan Dunlap, Orlando Pinstriped Post: Glen Davis. I think the nod has to go to Glen Davis, even though few people would argue he’s a better player than Ryan Anderson. Stan Van Gundy seems to prefer Anderson off the bench–his starts at power forward last season didn’t go so well–and I think Davis is a better matchup for the Thunder’s Serge Ibaka anyway.
Kevin Pelton, Basketball Prospectus: Ryan Anderson. As Anderson is the next Dirk Nowitzki, he should totally start at power forward. I actually think that balances the rotation better, because Big Baby will need to back up Dwight Howard too, and it’s usually easier to balance those minutes for someone coming off the bench.
Danny Nowell, Magic Basketball: Ryan Anderson. I’m not even really sure of what Big Baby’s ostensible values are compared to Anderson — I guess he has a reputation as a defensive player because of his time with the Celtics, but Anderson is more efficient, stylistically more appropriate and a better rebounder. Also, more talented. It will probably be Davis. I’m depressed.
Eddy Rivera, Magic Basketball: Ryan Anderson. If Brandon Bass is better than Glen Davis and Anderson is better than both of them, the answer should be a no-brainer. However, head coach Stan Van Gundy always seems to prefer Anderson coming off the bench as a super-sub, so Davis might as well get the nod as the starter. It was the case with Bass last season.
Matt Scribbins, Magic Basketball: Glen Davis. I can’t believe this is my answer, but I am going to say it for “non-basketball reasons.” The Magic need to do everything possible to keep Dwight Howard happy and giving his friend (Davis) the starting nod may do just that. It obviously isn’t enough to keep him in Orlando, but it’s a baby step in the right direction.