Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE
I sat down with the task of writing about the Orlando player who most needs to redeem himself, but frankly, I just can’t do it.
As far as the major players on the roster, there just isn’t much sense in talking about “redemption.” We know Dwight’s situation. We’ve covered the bejeezus in the past out of Hedo’s slippage, and while I know Nate disagrees, I think his play suggests not so much the need for him to redeem himself as it does the fact that he ain’t that good anymore. Jameer has proven himself steady, with one outlier season of excellence. Jason Richardson is an aging leaper, and Glen Davis’ struggles weren’t really on the Magic and also I’m tired of talking about him, too.
You see what I’m saying? Most of the roster on this team has a floor and a ceiling that are about exactly the same. However, when you start looking at the reserves, you notice that how little contribution the Magic got last year from certified role players whose names aren’t Ryan Anderson. And so, while the failures of last season aren’t exactly on their heads, I think the players who most need to step it up this year are J.J. Redick, Chris Duhon and Earl Clark.
One of the best things about Van Gundy Ball is that the team system is able to absorb players with fairly limited skill sets and ask them to perform roles which accentuate their abilities, which allows the team to put players on the court who bring definable positive skill sets to their position at all times. This is a sharp contrast to an approach of trying to “steal minutes” — when Magic reserves are on the court, ideally, they are put in a role where their abilities are accentuated much more than their weaknesses are masked. In 2010, and even the season before that, this was often the case, but last season, the bench was populated with players either performing well below their career averages or failing to cultivate the one skill they could use to change a game.
Clark is a perfect example of the latter case, and the largest enigma currently on the roster.