- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “While the celebration of the new place was going on up the street, the old place was eerily quiet. It was sunny and green and clean outside, but dark and desolate and dusty inside. And nearly abandoned. Except for a skeletal crew of workers, there was no sign of life in a building that had first given us music and laughter and indoor football and, yes, dunks, from Shaq to Dwight [Howard], for 21 years. Amway Arena was officially left behind on Friday by Amway Center, The Next Generation. I headed out to say goodbye to the old gal, taking a familiar route — I-4, Colonial and a left past Lake Dot — for the last time. It was a path I had traveled to cover hundreds and hundreds of games since the [Orlando] Magic were born in 1989. I don’t know what the traffic was like for the grand opening at Amway Center, but this trip felt like a scene out of “I Am Legend,” when Will Smith had the city to himself after a virus outbreak.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “If anyone wondered how Jameer Nelson would approach the Orlando Magic’s training camp this year, he answered that question at the end of the first 5-on-5 scrimmage. Crouched in a perfect defensive stance, his weight on the balls of his feet, Nelson crowded the opposing team’s point guard. When the ball-handler dribbled left, Nelson sprinted to his right, never giving up an inch of space. When a much larger player attempted to set a pick, Nelson fought through it, absorbing a glancing blow on his left shoulder. The man Nelson was covering had nowhere to go. That sequence typifies the way Nelson has responded to challenges this week. Coach Stan Van Gundy wants Nelson to improve his man-to-man defense, particularly against quicker point guards, and Nelson has responded. President of Basketball Operations Otis Smith wants Nelson to be a more vocal leader, and teammates say that Nelson has obliged.”
- The story of how the Amway Center was born.
- The city of Orlando is thrilled about the new arena.
- Vince Carter sat out of today’s practice with a sore ankle. Head coach Stan Van Gundy has the details: “He’s got a little bit of swelling, and it’s been a little tender. It’s actually been bothering him for a couple of days a little bit, and he’s continued to go on it, which probably hasn’t helped. He tried to go today. He went in and got more treatment while we were getting warmed up and was going to try to go, but he decided he couldn’t.”
- Van Gundy wants to see Dwight Howard back down his defenders on the low block.
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Small forward is familiar territory for [Rashard] Lewis, who spent the first nine years of his career in Seattle playing on the wing. But in Orlando, head coach Stan Van Gundy to some degree revolutionized the ‘stretch four’ position, using a front line player to predominantly shoot 3-pointers and leave the middle of the floor open for Dwight Howard. [...] Brandon Bass worked on film study and closely with assistant coach Patrick Ewing to become a better defender at power forward, and [Ryan] Anderson re-shaped his body in an attempt to be quicker and stronger. Either could start at power forward and center Marcin Gortat could also see time there because of his defensive and rebounding prowess. But Van Gundy admitted on Thursday that he’s still somewhat leery about changing a formula (i.e. Lewis at power forward) that’s brought so much success to the Magic. The likelihood is that Lewis will start at power forward with newcomer Quentin Richardson getting the nod at small forward. While Van Gundy said he wants no part of a revolving starting lineup, he does want to the flexibility to change styles during games and against particular foes.”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Really, just appreciate that the fact that the arena’s very existence ensures the Magic will continue to call Central Florida home for the forseeable future. It’s not a great time for NBA teams in small markets looking to improve their facilities; the Sacramento Kings, for instance, just came up against a big obstacle in their efforts to obtain land for a new arena, continuing to fuel rumors they could flee for Kansas City, Las Vegas, or another town hungry for an NBA team. They have until the end of February to file for relocation. While I believe the DeVos family is committed to keeping the Magic in Orlando, I do think the same scenario the Kings are facing now is one with which the Magic could have been confronted had the arena measure not passed.”
- Matt Moore of CBSSports.com chimes in on Ryan Anderson’s contract being extended by the Orlando Magic: “Anderson compares favorably to OKC’s Jeff Green, as a perimeter power forward. Anderson’s rebounding numbers actually are favorable to Green. Anderson still needs help at the defensive end, but even that gap in his game is closing quickly. It’s no wonder the Magic are clinging to him. With the Magic talking more about moving Lewis more to the small forward spot, there will be opportunities for Anderson. The question is if they’ll mazimize their use of him or if he’ll continue to add to the ranks of Magic frontcourt guys who are disgruntled with their lot. Marcin Gortat’s not happy with not getting touches, and Brandon Bass could not be more stressed out with being buried on the depth chart. Lewis is still the best flex-forward player they have, but Anderson’s potential was enough for the Magic to go ahead and lock him up, even as they continue to struggle with the luxury tax.”
- Make sure to become a fan of Orlando Pinstriped Post on Facebook. Magic Basketball will have its own page next week, so stay tuned for that.
- Daniel Orton will miss the pre-season to rehab his left knee.
- Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference: “In the realm of APBRmetrics, perhaps no stat has as many alternate versions (many under essentially the same confusingly interchangeable name) as “Assist Ratio/Rate”. All theoretically attempt to measure passing ability, but each version has its own quirks and biases. Today I want to compare all of the versions I can think of, and show a leaderboard (minimum 500 MP) for each to get a better feel for what each is measuring [...]“
- Ball Don’t Lie bids farewell to Trey Kerby, who is moving on to work at The Score in Toronto.
Via the Orlando Magic:
The Orlando Magic have exercised their fourth-year team option on forward Ryan Anderson, President of Basketball Operations/General Manager Otis Smith announced today. Per team policy, terms of the deal are not disclosed. Anderson is now under contract through the 2011-12 season.
Anderson (#33, 6’10”, 240, 5/6/88) played in 63 games last season for the Magic, averaging 7.7 ppg. and 3.2 rpg. in 14.5 minpg., while shooting .370 (78-211) from three-point range. He started in six outings, averaging 15.0 ppg. and 5.0 rpg. in 25.6 minpg. during that span. Anderson also appeared in nine playoff games, averaging 2.6 ppg. and 3.4 rpg. in 9.9 minpg.
Originally selected in the first round (21st overall) of the 2008 NBA Draft by New Jersey, Anderson was acquired by the Magic from the Nets, along with Vince Carter, in exchange for Rafer Alston, Tony Battie and Courtney Lee on June 25, 2009. He has played in 129 career NBA regular season games with New Jersey and Orlando, averaging 7.6 ppg. and 4.0 rpg. in 17.2 minpg, while shooting .368 (147-400) from three-point range.
Shaquille O’Neal’s stat line against the Timberwolves — 53 points, 18 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks.
Here’s Part II of my interview (click here for Part I) with Matt Guokas, the television color analyst for the Orlando Magic. In this segment, Matt talks about the Magic’s quest for a championship this season and more.
Do you think that Matt Barnes’ inability to hit threes at a proficient rate compared to his teammates was an achilles heel for the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics?
Yeah. One of the big problems, Eddy, was … the Magic were not really … the way the schedule broke, they did not get a lot of competitive games in the last 41 [regular season games]. Maybe four or five tough games. The teams were hurt or resting people when they played the good teams or they just weren’t playing competitive teams. And then even in the first two rounds, Charlotte and Atlanta just seemed totally unprepared. They did not put up any resistance whatsoever and I’m not saying that’s an excuse, but I think the Magic kind of got into a routine of saying ‘hey, this is pretty easy.’ And then by not winning one of those first two games in the Boston series, that’s what kind of cost them. That’s what hurt. Boston just brought it. They were riding the high. I think they were more surprise than anybody that they were able to get by Cleveland and they saw that fold in Game 5. They looked like the most shocked team in the world. They were like, ‘they’re just going to give this to us’ and Cleveland basically did, so now Boston was playing with a little bit of confidence. And then by winning the first two in Orlando, that obviously set the direction of the series but I would not point a finger at Matt Barnes for poor three-point shooting in the Boston series. I thought it was more about giving Boston more credit and the fact that the Magic weren’t as mentally ready as they normally would be had they been tested a little bit more
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Actually, the Heat ought to be on the [Orlando] Magic‘s mind 24/7, sun up, sun down. They should embrace them. [Quentin] Richardson is not alone, as Magic players are already tired and/or agitated when asked about South Florida’s can’t-miss dream team. Agitated a month before the real season begins? See? That’s a good sign. They might get annoyed, but the Heat are the best thing that’s happened lately to the Magic — and the league. That’s right. The Heat’s presence should make the Magic and everyone else elevate their games. Want to make it four in a row as Southeast Division champs, Magic? Beat the Heat. Want to come out of the Eastern Conference? Beat the Heat. Want another shot at the Lakers? I repeat, beat the Heat.”
- More from Schmitz: “There seemingly has been much hand-wringing during the Magic’s training camp over the whereabouts of Rashard Lewis. Will he really vacate his power-forward spot and switch to small forward, causing a seismic shift in the lineup? The short answer: no. The long answer: at times he will, when the Magic need more size at the 4 when they play the Celtics, who now have Shaq to go along with all their other big men, or the Lakers, who boast more 7-footers than Yao Ming’s family tree. [...] Van Gundy will start with Lewis at the 4, but insists he’s trying to assemble a Big Man Lineup out of [Ryan] Anderson, [Marcin] Gortat and [Brandon] Bass to play alongside Howard for stretches.”
- Dwight Howard talks about his new album (and click here).
- Head coach Stan Van Gundy praises Mickael Pietrus‘ performance in training camp: “M.P, he’s been unbelievable. I’ve been happy with everybody, but he’s probably stood out more than anyone. He’s making unbelievable efforts defensively. He’s making more solid plays with the ball offensively. His energy has been good. He’s been unbelievable.”
- With Jason Williams sidelined with an injury, maybe the Orlando Magic should pursue an old friend. Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post further explains: “For relative chump change, the Magic could sign a free-agent point guard strictly to serve as a body in training camp so [Chris] Duhon and [Jameer] Nelson can get some rest; as it is, the Magic are having Vince Carter and J.J. Redick slide down there from shooting guard. The fact that Anthony Johnson, who spent the last two seasons in Orlando, is still on the market may make this option especially attractive, as he would not need to be brought up to speed on the Magic’s system. In fact, no point guard played more minutes for the Magic in 2008/09 than Johnson did.”
- Howard’s jersey is popular in Europe.
- Jameer Nelson reminisces on his time playing alongside Chris Duhon on the U21 USA basketball team: “He beat me out for the job. But whenever I played against him in practice, I let him know I was there. And vice versa.”
- NBA 2K11 has adjusted their player ratings. What do you think?
- Sekou Smith of the Hang Time Blog chimes in on the “Van Gundy Rule.”
- Trey Kerby of Ball Don’t Lie has more on the subject: “If you’ve ever watched an Orlando Magic game, then you know Stan Van Gundy is famous for three things — screaming, looking like various rotund Italian-American celebrities, and wearing mock turtlenecks underneath his sport coat. Apparently, this year, he’s going to be almost unrecognizable.”
- Ditto with Royce Young of CBSSports.com: “In 2005, the NBA instituted a dress code for its players to go by and it caused quite a stir. Some called it racist, some called it stupid and some actually thought it was a good idea. In the end, the controversy dissolved and now everyone seems fine with players arriving wearing a nice pair of corduroy pleated slacks with a tasteful two-button mauve tweed jacket. (I have no idea anything in that last sentence actually is.) Now, the dress code has moved to include coaches. Some of the NBA’s top sideline wanderers had started taking advantage of the lax dress code rules, one being Stan Van Gundy and his mock turtlenecks. Well, the NBA has had enough of those. Now, coaches are required to wear collared shirts on the sidelines.”
- Kyle Stack of SLAM ONLINE critiques the Magic’s new logo: “While the Magic aren’t completely eliminating their association with their roots — after all, Vega just made the point of keeping the stars that were their first identity — there’s a natural maturation which takes place. Vega likened it to that of a person. Now that the Magic are 21 years old, they’re making smarter decisions which comes from the experience and knowledge they’ve gained as an organization. First the first time in their history, the Magic are an annual threat to win a championship. They want to show fans their new look is emblematic of the focus they have on winning their first title.”
- Chris Duhon is no longer in LeBron James’ shadow. Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse explains: “The LeBron James era never materialized in New York City, but point guard Chris Duhon still feels like he played right through a part of it. Duhon was the starting point guard for the Knicks the past two seasons, trying to lead a team whose only real goal was creating salary cap space to lure James in his celebrated summer of free agency. James never came, but his presence always was felt.”
- Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD with an interesting report: “The company line in Orlando is that they made informal inquiries about both Chris Paul in July and Carmelo Anthony in August and those inquiries never included discussion of specific players and died quickly. Hornets’ sources confirmed Orlando’s pursuit of Chris Paul this summer as more than informal and more than a single inquiry, saying Orlando had reached out a number of times over the last year, but New Orleans just is not interested. Fast forward a month and the Magic made similar aggressive inquiries with Denver. [...] When you wonder why Orlando isn’t in the mix with Denver now, it’s mainly because they want Carmelo along with Chauncey Billups and not just Melo alone. Unless they could get both in a deal, they like the group they have in place now and wouldn’t break it up for Carmelo alone, unless they got him for a single player straight up, which isn’t going to happen.”
Via the Orlando Magic:
Pounds of concrete used to build the Amway Center.
Pounds of total steel used to build the Amway Center, including six, 380-foot, 150-ton roof trusses which were locally fabricated just six miles from the arena site. The total length of all arena steel roof framing equals 55,287 feet or 10.5 miles.
Number of LED lights in the center-hung videoboard, the tallest and most high-definition in an NBA venue measuring in at 42 feet high and weighing in at 80,000 pounds.
Square footage of the new Amway Center – almost triple the size of the old 367,000 square foot arena.
Gallons of water saved annually in the environmentally-friendly building which employs a rain water collection system for irrigation and high-efficiency water flow fixtures in restrooms. Water consumption will be reduced by 40 percent over a comparably sized building.
Estimate dollars in annual energy savings because of the high efficiency “green” systems in place in the Amway Center. Overall the environmentally-friendly systems will cut energy consumption by 24 percent over a comparable, code compliant, designed building.
Maximum number of seats in the flexible Amway Center. Orlando Magic seating will be 18,500.
Number of light fixtures in the building.
Number of parking spaces within a 10-minute walk of the arena.
Number of Magic tickets priced $25 or less, including the first-time ever introduction of $5 tickets (while supplies last).
Number of construction workers who built the Amway Center.
Number of plumbing devices in the building, including 563 toilets/urinals.
Number of high-definition video displays in the new Amway Center.
Combined number of devices used (240) to make the Amway Center wireless, and touch screen control-based units (230) for patrons to order food, beverages and merchandise.
Number of pieces of art work (140 original pieces and 200 museum quality photographs) in the Amway Center, as part of the public arts program for the building. Fourteen Central Florida artists contributed an estimated 110 pieces to the collection.
For Magic fans, Matt Guokas is a legend of sorts. Guokas will forever be linked with the beginning of the Orlando Magic, serving as the head coach of the 1989 expansion team that featured the likes of Terry Catledge, Jerry “Ice” Reynolds, Reggie Theus, among others, and remaining with the team until 1993 when Brian Hill replaced him after Shaquille O’Neal’s rookie year.
Fast forward to today, Guokas is the television color analyst for the Magic and will be teaming up with play-by-play announcer David Steele for their seventh year as a tandem. It should be noted that Guokas is a forward-thinking analyst, not afraid to cite metrics like team efficiency, pace, and whatever else. For team announcers, amidst the statistical revolution in the NBA, that’s still a rarity.
Did I mention that Guokas played with Wilt Chamberlain, Billy Cunningham, and Hal Greer with the Philadelphia Sixers, winning a championship alongside them in 1967 against the then-San Francisco Warriors? Good times.
Needless to say, Guokas’ experience and knowledge of the league is impeccable.
Yesterday, I was able to speak with Guokas about a variety of topics, including his thoughts on the new-look Miami Heat, Dwight Howard‘s continued development as a player, and more.
What’s your take on the Miami Heat now that they have LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh?
Anytime you have three very, very talented guys like that, it’s going to be good.
They’re going to make some of the lesser players better, although there are big question marks with the other seven or eight guys that are going to have to do a lot of the playing. Most of them are veterans, have been around, and certainly can contribute like Mike Miller. Mario Chalmers has a few years under his belt.
They’ll be good. They’re still going to have … there’s going to be a lot of pressure obviously from being under the microscope. Any time there’s a game, there’s going to have to be all kinds of explanations as to how can a talented team do this and all that. I think they’ll be well-guided in terms of not paying so much attention to what it is they do record-wise in the regular season. They’re going to win a lot of games anyway. It’s just how they come together as a team and what their results are in the playoffs.
Via the Orlando Magic:
Orlando Magic guard Jason Williams will undergo arthroscopic surgery tomorrow on his left knee, General Manager Otis Smith announced. Williams is expected to miss approximately four weeks of action.
Williams (#44, 6’1”, 190, 11/18/75) played in all 82 games last season for the Magic, averaging 6.0 ppg., 3.6 apg. and 1.5 rpg. in 20.8 minpg., while shooting .380 (84-221) from three-point range. He started in 18 outings, averaging 8.6 ppg., 5.1 apg., 2.7 rpg. and 1.11 stlpg. in 29.6 minpg. during that span. Williams ranked seventh in the NBA in assists-to-turnover ratio (3.43, 298/87). He also appeared in all 14 playoff games, averaging 2.6 ppg. and 1.6 apg. in 13.7 minpg.
Originally selected in the first round (seventh overall) of the 1998 NBA Draft, Williams has played in 761 career NBA regular season games with Sacramento, Memphis, Miami and Orlando, averaging 10.8 ppg., 6.0 apg., 2.3 rpg. and 1.21 stlpg. in 30.1 minpg. He has also played in 67 career playoff contests, averaging 8.3 ppg., 3.3 apg. and 1.9 rpg. in 25.9 minpg. Williams was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team in 1998-99, currently stands as Memphis’ all-time leader in assists (2,041) and helped Miami capture the 2005-06 NBA Championship.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Turning 34 in January, [Vince Carter] needs to squeeze out one very good season. And the Magic desperately need him to, as well. That’s where they are in this madcap chase of the new Heat and the old Celtics. They still need Vince Carter, on given nights, to counter, say, scoring stars Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Paul Pierce. They probably don’t sweat the old man at all. After finishing a pedestrian season with a dreadful playoff series against Boston, Carter is said to have trained like an Olympian this summer. His body fat is down almost 4 percent. He’s stronger. He has a better grasp of the offense and his duties. Did we mention he has a contract situation? [...] Once again, it’s not only [Stan] Van Gundy and GM Otis Smith telling him he needs to be Vintage Vince. In a meeting Monday, teammates told him to his face that he needs to quit deferring so much, be aggressive, creative and lead.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Coach Stan Van Gundy has said he will spend the weeks before the Oct. 28 regular-season opener trying to determine if the team is better off with [Rashard] Lewis at small forward. The [Orlando] Magic‘s version of The Great Experiment will have repercussions for the rest of the roster. If Lewis remains the starting power forward, either Quentin Richardson or Mickael Pietrus or maybe even J.J. Redick will serve as the team’s fifth starter. If Lewis starts at small forward, then either Ryan Anderson or Brandon Bass will start at the other forward position. Either way, Lewis figures to receive plenty of time at both forward spots in the days and weeks ahead. One reason Van Gundy didn’t play Lewis at small forward during the Boston series was that Lewis had barely played the position during the year and the team wasn’t comfortable with him playing there. Making such a dramatic change in the middle of the playoffs might have done more harm than good. [...] This offseason, Lewis focused on his footwork, his quickness and on strengthening his legs — all to get ready for the defensive demands of playing small forward. Lewis said he’ll play whatever position will help the team win, but he acknowledged he would enjoy making a switch.”
- Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel marvels at the Amway Center.
- Can Rashard Lewis and Brandon Bass co-exist on the court? To be determined.
- If Dwight Howard takes Hakeem Olajuwon’s advice to heart, don’t be surprised if he takes a few more jumpers in games this season. This is what Howard had to say: “I’ve just got to keep shooting. That’s the only way you’re going to get comfortable: just keep trying things. The more you try, the better you’ll get at it. I’m not worried about that.”
- Jameer Nelson is leaner and meaner this year.
- Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel wonders if it’s fair to compare Howard offensively to big men of NBA’s past, like Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and others.
- Nelson talks about Twitter: “One thing is I just want people to know that I’m a person like them. I can’t reach out to everybody, but on Twitter I think that’s a way for me to reach out to the fans and really tell them that I appreciate them being a fan and supporting the Magic, not only me.”
- The Orlando Magic’s official website has tons of video from Media Day. Check it out.
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Maybe it was that Philly edge oozing out his every pore or part of his undeniable swagger, but Jameer Nelson reacted almost incredulously when asked if he was offended by the rumors that his Orlando Magic explored potentially trading for point guard Chris Paul this past summer. Nelson is a far cry from a cocky or boastful type, but deep down he considers himself to be every bit the point guard of Paul, a perennial all-star. And considering the way that Nelson has played when fully healthy the past two seasons, it’s hard to argue with his logic. An all-star back in 2009, Nelson reaffirmed his status as one of the NBA’s elite point guards last spring when he almost single-handedly carried the Magic through the playoffs. [...] Mature enough to analyze his own game and know where he needs to improve to be an elite player who can take his team to a championship. Nelson said he replayed the Boston series over and over in his head for weeks, trying to figure out where he could be better this season. He then worked hard on his body to get lighter so that he could become a more agile defender. Van Gundy said the next step for Nelson is making strides defensively.”
- The Magic are expecting more from Vince Carter this season.
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post wonders if it’s wise to rely on Carter so heavily: “There are two interesting things to consider with this sudden spike in Carter features. For one, it’s that the media believe Carter needs more touches. For another, it’s that the entire Magic organization, it seems, agrees with that idea. I’m surprised on both counts. I wrote last week that, ideally, Carter would trim his usage even more, but play the same general style, and the Magic’s offense would rely more heavily on Dwight Howard as a result. The season’s last 41 games showed that this strategy can be successful. Yet it appears that, if anything, Orlando wants Carter to use more possessions.”
- Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD: “While company lines such as hustling, focusing, and sacrificing are certainly important if a team wants to compete for a title, the biggest determinant in Orlando will be how their two biggest stars coexist in their second year playing alongside one another. With the season right around the corner, Dwight Howard and Vince Carter want to make it clear that they’re now on the same page. The same was said last season but the two admittedly struggled to share the touches and alpha male role in Orlando.”
- Make sure to read Kennedy’s article on the relationship between Carter and Howard.
- Howard is releasing an album titled “Shoot for the Stars.”
- Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse: “Until arriving in Orlando, Carter never had played before with a dominating center like Dwight Howard, and he admittedly was uncomfortable with the fit last season, often unsure of his role. They often frustrated each other offensively. His let’s-get-along personality was not what Smith and Van Gundy wanted. They don’t want him deferring to Howard offensively. They want more of the games like his 48-point outburst against New Orleans in February, than games like he had in January, when he averaged just 8.5 points for the month.”
Fact or Fiction presents both sides of key issues the Orlando Magic will face in the upcoming season.
Jameer Nelson will be an All-Star this year.
One of the arguments in Jameer Nelson‘s favor is that he’s been an All-Star before.
In 2009, Nelson had a phenomenal campaign in the first half of the regular season and put up some absurd numbers offensively. For example, Nelson’s True Shooting percentage was .612 percent as a point guard – ranked 10th in the NBA that year.
Nelson was, without question, the second option on offense for the Orlando Magic and able to take his game to new heights with an aggressiveness and swagger not seen before.
For Nelson, that second year jump in head coach Stan Van Gundy‘s system was noticeable and it showed in his stats. Nelson was as efficient as they come, though his statistics were unsustainable when taking a closer look at how he manufactured his points. For example, Nelson shot 52 percent from 16-23 feet (league average was 40.1 percent). Nelson’s ability to hit long two’s at an obscene rate fueled his high shooting percentages and landed him on the All-Star team.
Unfortunately for Nelson, he suffered a shoulder injury on February 2 in a game against the Dallas Mavericks and was out for the remainder of the season, though he did make a cameo appearance in the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers as many Magic fans know. Nelson readily admits he was nowhere close to 100 percent in the series.
As a result, Nelson had to shake off the rust in training camp last year and was able to do so in time for the regular season. Nelson even had a standout performance against the Toronto Raptors early in the year. However, Nelson injured his left knee on November 16 in a game against the Charlotte Bobcats and that took him back to square one.
It wasn’t until the second half of the season, after Nelson was able to get some rest at the All-Star break, that he was able to show glimpses of the player he was the previous season. And it wasn’t until the 2010 NBA Playoffs commenced that Nelson was able to perform at his absolute peak.
At his best, there’s no doubt that Nelson is the second-best player for the Magic.
When Nelson is healthy, he has proven he can produce at an All-Star level.
And guess what?
Nelson is fully healthy heading into the season. That’s a key factor.
Another factor is that Nelson’s competition at point guard in the Eastern Conference isn’t fierce.
It’s a safe bet that Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose will be All-Stars at point guard and depending on if one of them is named a starter, that opens up a slot on the bench for a player like Nelson to jump in and take it. Yes, Nelson will likely compete against the likes of Gilbert Arenas and Devin Harris but they are players that will need to prove they can return to form.
It should be noted, too, that Nelson will be competing against other players at different positions if he’s seeking one of the last reserve spots in the East. But one bright side is that the competition will be nowhere as extreme as it would be if Nelson was in the Western Conference, where he would have little chance of making the roster barring a ridiculous first-half performance.
All in all, Nelson has a shot at being an All-Star for a second time in three years.