- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Jason Williams expects to reach a milestone Wednesday. He believes he’ll run for the first time since he underwent a knee operation on Sept. 30. This day couldn’t have arrived soon enough for Williams. He participated in just one day of training camp before he decided to have arthroscopic surgery to clean out debris inside his left knee. He watched on TV when the Orlando Magic played their first two preseason games. [...] Williams said he feels like he could play right now if absolutely necessary. After an hour-long rehab session of stationary bike work, leg-strengthening exercises and icing his knee on Tuesday, he walked briskly and without a limp through Amway Center toward the players’ parking garage. Before his surgery, Williams had been told he could return to the court within three or four weeks, and he’s still on that rough timeline. The Magic will be happy to have him back.”
- Jason Williams on the Miami Heat: “The Orlando Magic’s got just as good a chance of winning the championship as the Miami Heat, and that’s all it’s about for me right now: winning a championship.”
- Marcin Gortat thinks the Orlando Magic have a better frontline than the Los Angeles Lakers.
- What does Dwight Howard have to do to win the MVP award this year?
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post previews the Magic’s season: “Frankly, I don’t see how the team could possibly have declined. It led the league in point differential despite getting only two above-average months from [Vince] Carter and [Jameer] Nelson, and never getting any consistent production from [Rashard] Lewis. This NBA season, in terms of attention and coverage, will belong to the Miami Heat. I don’t think anyone will dispute that point. But in their shadow, I believe the Magic will modestly improve upon last season’s record, and enter the postseason more prepared to take on all comers than they were last season.”
- Make sure to check out Rock’s practice reports from yesterday. All of them are must-reads.
- Trey Kerby of The Basketball Jones: “Dwight Howard has made a name for himself by being a lovably goofy giant, smiling any chance he gets and breaking in to his Charles Barkley impersonation anytime someone requests to see it. Six seasons in to his career, Dwight is one of the most recognizable and famous players in the NBA. He’s got commercials. He’s got a shoe deal. He’s even got a kid’s CD. And it’s all because he’s a big-time jokester. But, apparently, the Dwight we’ve come to know and love is gone, never to be seen again. Gone are the halfcourt shots and Superman capes. Gone are the dunk contests, smiles and dance moves. There’s a new Dwight in Orlando, and he sounds a lot less fun.”
- FreeDarko’s new book is out!
- Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie thinks Jameer Nelson is an underrated player: “Well, everyone knows his name, and he did make an All-Star two years ago while slightly disappointing last season. But he’s clearly slimmed down, and about to enter his prime. I think Jameer Nelson will be terribly underrated this season. This guy has a chance to go off. This isn’t to say he looked doughy or out of it last season, it’s just to point out that he really looks fit now, and could lead Orlando to great things. The Magic have long needed him to be the straw that stirs the drink, and I don’t think I’m being annoyingly glass half-full in expecting him to stir away in 2010-11.”
Via the Orlando Magic:
The Orlando Magic will host an open practice and Select-a-Seat event this Sunday, October 17 from 11 a.m.-1:45 p.m.
From 11 a.m.-1 p.m., fans will be able to access the Amway Center to see available seats for the 2010-11 season.
Following the Select-a-Seat event, the Magic will have a 45-minute open practice for fans, featuring drills and a scrimmage, until approximately 1:45 p.m.
The event requires a ticket for admission, which can be claimed for free at the Amway Center box office or online at orlandomagic.com, elorlandomagic.com or ticketmaster.com (75-cent printing fee) while supplies last. Fans can visit amwaycenter.com for a parking map and prices.
Orlando Magic season tickets, partial plans, group and single-game Amway Center suite rental opportunities are on sale now. Ticket highlights in the new Amway Center include: 2,500 seats priced $15 or less and 7,000 seats priced $25 or less. A limited number of season tickets are available through the Orlando Magic box office by calling 407-89-MAGIC or visiting orlandomagic.com.
There’s been a lot of chatter lately in response to a YouTube video showcasing Dwight Howard‘s workout with Hakeem Olajuwon in Houston during the off-season.
It’s been a revelation, of sorts, because it shows the start of Howard undertaking a transformation that a lot of people have noticed since the Orlando Magic reconvened for training camp a few weeks ago in preparation for the regular season.
Howard’s demeanor has changed, and he’s taking a very business-like approach to everything he does. No longer is Howard acting goofy and cracking jokes. Instead, Howard is taking things seriously. Good news for Magic fans, to be sure.
Oh, and those jumpshots? Howard is making ‘em.
Better late than never.
That phrase best describes head coach Stan Van Gundy‘s newfound commitment to playing Rashard Lewis at the small forward position this season, something he rarely did in his first three years roaming the sidelines for the Orlando Magic.
While it’s not necessarily a good idea to start Lewis at small forward, it definitely is a great idea to give him minutes at his “natural position” because the advantages he has are undeniable. There’s not many players in the NBA that can defend Lewis when he’s at the three.
Same could be said when Lewis is at power forward. See for yourself.
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Recaps: All Previews
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “His grandmother bought him a Nerf ball game when he was a toddler. He slept with a basketball by his pillow as he got older. No wonder he has a nose for grabbing a rebound and a shooting eye to die for. And it’s no surprise that he tossed in a shot from half court after Monday’s practice — in his first try. Watching from afar, you’d swear that [Orlando] Magic forward Ryan Anderson was a natural. Far from it. You know how they say some athletes are “born” to play this or that? Anderson had a better chance of becoming a brainy guy who liked to kayak but, if pressed, could also decorate a living room. [...] Anderson largely taught himself to shoot, alone in his front yard in Dorado Hills, Calif. Before basketball camps and coaches got a hold of him, he didn’t stop releasing the ball from the hip until a better eighth-grade player made fun of his shot. Obviously, Anderson didn’t forecast pro basketball in his future, given his background. [...] But his friends all played and he somehow grew to 6-feet-10 (“My dad is 6-foot and my mom is 5-8. I’m the freak of the family,” he said). And he simply kept getting better at it. Still is.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “[J.J.] Redick made significant strides last season, and the Magic noticed. The team matched a front-loaded three-year, $19 million offer sheet from the Chicago Bulls to keep him. Redick has improved markedly as a defender, and he’s no longer a liability on that end of the floor. You probably wouldn’t want him defending an opponent’s best wing scorer for lengthy stretches — that’s more of Mickael Pietrus’ role — but Redick rarely gets caught out of position. No one on the roster hustles back on defense as well as he does. Redick is a superb outside shooter — he led the Magic in 3-point percentage last season — and he’s also an underrated passer. Redick’s midrange game also has progressed. According to HoopData.com, last season he made a career-best 58.8 percent of the shots he attempted between 10 and 15 feet of the basket. He remains an excellent free-throw shooter. Redick works hard to stay in shape; last year, he won the team’s “Iron Magic” award for his performance on a variety of strength, agility and conditioning tests.”
- The Orlando Magic will host an open practice at the Amway Center on Sunday.
- Jameer Nelson got the day off from Magic practice earlier today.
- According to one writer, head coach Stan Van Gundy should never wear a tie.
- Van Gundy on Ryan Anderson: “I don’t think people realize how good he is. Because he is a very good 3-point shooter people tend to look at him as a one dimensional guy, but that’s not even close to true,” Van Gundy said. “He can really put the ball on the floor, he’ll make good passes, he can score in the post and he’s an outstanding rebounder. As a rebounder, people have the wrong impression of him. [Fans] talk about our need for rebounding and I hear a lot of names come up, but right now Ryan’s our second-best rebounder behind Dwight [Howard].”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com has more on Anderson: “The impact that offseason work made on Redick and [Marcin] Gortat’s careers didn’t go unnoticed by Anderson, who entered the offseason looking to get stronger so that he could be more forceful inside and play more minutes at power forward when Rashard Lewis shifts to small forward. And all of the hard work that he has done is paying off now as Anderson has been one of the Magic’s best preseason players through training camp and three exhibition games. [...] The ability to play rugged basketball and hold his own in the paint comes, of course, after a summer in which Anderson rarely took a day off and put his body through the paces. He worked out three times a day for four days a week, lifting weights in the morning, shoot hundreds of jumpers in the afternoon and then doing boxing drills to build stamina. And on the one day that he wasn’t doing those exercises, Anderson was with [Joe] Rogowski outside on the track doing 800-meter runs in the blazing summer heat. Almost immediately, Anderson began to see results from his sessions. Once able to bench-press no more than 185 pounds, he now can do a set of four repetitions of 225 pounds. His vertical leap went up three inches and his times in the 800-meter runs dropped from 4 minutes to 3 minutes.”
- Contrary to popular belief, Anderson is not a shooting specialist. Far from it.
- According to a few NBA head coaches, if you hold an opponent to a field goal percentage of 45 percent or lower, the chances of winning games are high. John Schuhmann of NBA.com investigates whether this is true or not: ” Now, this is obviously a simplistic way of looking at things. For one, saying that holding opponents under 45 percent doesn’t account for how well your team does offensively. And second, there are other factors that affect how good your defense is: your opponents’ 3-point shooting, forcing turnovers, fouling, and rebounding. If you keep your opponent under 45 percent shooting, but allow them to get to the line 40 times in a game, they’re probably still going to score a lot of points. You’ve also got to control the boards, obviously. It’s possible that neither O’Brien nor Collins are versed in advanced statistics and would rather talk points per game and field goal percentage than points per possession. It’s also possible that they have autographed copies of Basketball on Paper, but prefer to keep things simple for their players and the media.”
- Marcin Gortat spent time at the power forward position during scrimmages.
- Hakeem Olajuwon’s positive impact on Dwight Howard. From the Associated Press: “Dwight Howard had heard it all before, people offering constructive criticism and invitations to improve his game – he never really seriously listened. Until he received a phone call from Hakeem Olajuwon. [...] Olajuwon’s call, which came when the Magic were down 3-0 to the Celtics in last season’s series, pushed Howard to almost single-handedly force the series to six games. Howard shed his happy-go-lucky attitude and became a one-man wrecking crew, giving a glimpse of all that untapped offensive potential so many have craved from the NBA’s twice reigning defensive player of the year. There just wasn’t enough to show. Olajuwon, given Howard’s phone number after meeting his mother at a Magic game in Texas, met with Howard in Houston immediately after the series. The pair trained for five days during the NBA finals. They worked for three hours a day, drilled on post moves, face-up jumpers, baby hooks, pump fakes and even some of those famous “Dream” shakes. Olajuwon also stressed the need for Howard to be mentally stronger, tone down his playfulness and maintain focus.”
- Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference predicts the NBA leaderboard.
- Apparently, Van Gundy is still allowed to wear turtlenecks.
Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Here’s another installment of the Magic Basketball Mailbag.
With Vince Carter declining and an inconsistent Rashard Lewis coming off a down year, will the Magic get enough scoring from the wings to compete for a championship?
In my opinion? Yes.
It’ll be tough because of his age but as Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus pointed out in his chat on Friday, Vince Carter has a chance to have a bounce-back year this season. There are a number of factors as to why this may be the case.
First, Carter in his second season in head coach Stan Van Gundy‘s system so the continuity and familiarity is there for him when it comes to his role in the offense for the Orlando Magic. At this stage in his career, Carter knows that he’s no longer the primary scoring option. That designation goes to Dwight Howard, as it should. Second, with Van Gundy making a concerted effort to install more post-up opportunities in the Magic’s playbook, that should allow Carter to utilize his low post skills and get some easy buckets with his back to the basket against smaller guards. Third, Carter realizes — because his teammates told him — that he needs to be more aggressive and attack the basket with regularity. I know it’s pre-season and things can change in a hurry, but Carter has altered his approach offensively and is making a more concerted effort to get into the paint. It hasn’t translated to more free-throw attempts, but it has gotten him easier looks at the rim.
Mama Kay’s real name is Kay Kellogg. You might remember her from this column. She is 62, dying of cancer and had just a single item on her bucket list. Her one dying wish was to meet her hero, Dwight [Howard], before she passed away.
Dwight found out about it and visited her home a few weeks ago. He was scheduled to stay for 30 minutes, but ended up staying a couple of hours because the two fast friends talked and laughed so much that they lost track of time. [...]
But before Dwight left her home that day a few weeks ago, she told him to say a prayer for her so that she could live long enough to see him play the first game in the new arena Sunday night. You see, she has been diagnosed with the advanced stages of Multiple Myeloma, an inoperable, incurable form of cancer that destroys the blood plasma in the bone marrow. She was given only a month or two to live.
Well, guess who was in the brand new Amway Center Sunday night, sitting there courtside courtesy of the Magic. wearing her favorite No. 12 Dwight Howard jersey and rooting her team on to a 54-point victory over the New Orleans Hornets? Mama Kay, that’s who. And you should have seen the look on Dwight’s face when he saw her.
“She told me, ‘I made it!’ ” Howard said with a joyful smile splashed across his face. “She was just so excited to be here and I was just so excited to see her.”
Give this story a read.
Via the Orlando Magic:
On Saturday, October 9, Grammy Award winning artist James Taylor and the legendary Boston Pops directed by Keith Lockhart performed at the Amway Center Grand Opening Gala, which raised $300,000 for the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness (CFCH). The CFCH is a public/private partnership of community leaders to implement Ten2End, which is a ten year plan to end homelessness in Central Florida in the next decade. The mission of the CFCH is to continually assess and address the economic and social impact of homelessness on communities within Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties and the City of Orlando in the furtherance of its goal to end homelessness in the region within ten years.
Also announced and in celebration of the opening of the new Amway Center, volunteers from Amway and the Orlando Magic will partner to build a new KaBOOM! playground for the Orlando community. The playground will be built on April 8, 2011, in one day.
“Amway strives to make a difference in every community where we do business, and our involvement with the Amway Center is no exception,” said Amway Vice President Dana Boals. “We’re excited about this opportunity to partner with the Magic to revitalize the Parramore community and create a positive change for children.”
The new playground will provide hundreds of children in the Parramore area with a safe place to play. The playground will be the fifth built by KaBOOM! and the Magic, and the 11th built by KaBOOM! and Amway.