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ORLANDO — After the Magic dismantled Washington on Tuesday, J.J. Redick said the Magic were able to take advantage of the Wizards by exploiting the fact that they are probably better offensively than defensively. The idea was to get early stops and squash any hopes of an offensive strike from the Wiz, while remaining confident that they could beat their defense.
That brought up interesting questions. What makes a good defense? What makes a good defensive player? The Magic are predicated on the concept that defense wins basketball games, and effort and intensity will get you there, so what does that look like per individual?
There are two players in particular on the Magic roster that have garnered a ton of respect over the years for their defensive ability — Dwight Howard and J.J. Redick, but Orlando is not necessarily known for their lockdown defense like, say, the Chicago Bulls are.
With the Bulls on their way into town, Stan Van Gundy expressed some concerns with what the Magic will be up against on Friday night. The first words out of his mouth after practice on Thursday were about how “long and quick” their front line is. Long and quick — are these the most-important elements of a good defensive player? I asked him.
“You start with a combination of size and quickness. If you have length and quickness you at least have a shot at being a great defender. But then I think also what’s underrated about a lot of those guys is great intelligence to really understand your own teams system, other teams personnel, and then the discipline to do what you’re supposed to do consistently, time after time after time after time. That’s what makes a great defender.”
So what is Stan most concerned about when Chicago comes to Orlando on Friday?
“First of all I think physically they’ve got guys like Luol Deng who was very underrated last year. To not make the All-Defensive team was absurd.”
So this makes sense. You have to be athletic, you have to have size, you have to be fast, but that’s not it. SVG made it clear that you also need the x-factor. You need to want to do it, and not just once but “time after time after time after time.”