- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Marcin Gortat should be in good playing shape when he reports to Orlando Magic training camp in late September. The 6-foot-11 center is spending this month playing for Poland’s national team as it attempts to qualify for the 2011 EuroBasket tournament. Poland lost to Bulgaria 74-70 on Sunday in Sofia, which is Bulgaria’s capital city. Gortat scored 10 points, collected 12 rebounds and blocked two shots in the defeat. The loss dropped Poland to 1-2 in its qualifying group, which also includes Belgium, Bulgaria, Georgia and Portugal. Each team will play a total of eight games this month.”
- Does Jeff Van Gundy have a hidden agenda against the Miami Heat?
- Dwight Howard has landed in India.
- Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com: “I decided to conduct a mathematical analysis to determine who would win a game between the all-time best Orlando Magic against the all-time best Miami Heat. Although we can never truly know what the results would be if these two hypothetical squads clashed on the court, I simulated the outcome by using a number of statistical and scientific variables. Some of the math included, for example, career averages with the Magic and/or Heat and performance expectancy against certain opponents. Some of the data was based on personal judgment. [...] I, subsequently, simulated a box score which includes point, rebound, assist and blocked shot totals for each player. I also added shooting lines from the field, 3-point range and free throw line. Keep in mind, this was just for fun. I was not trying to prove any legitimate points. It would be extraordinary if we actually witnessed a contest between these two outstanding teams, however.”
- Jeremy Bauman of SLAM ONLINE: “[Daniel] Orton will barely see the court this year in game time situations. The Magic have a deep and talented frontcourt with Dwight Howard, Marcin Gortat, Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson, not to mention that they often play Rashard Lewis at the 4-spot. Kentucky is going to seem a world away for Mr. Orton. The key for him will be to learn and get better for the future and not think about playing time.”
- Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook takes a look at Rashard Lewis’ shooting form.
Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images
We kick off our third annual Summer Forecast series with the conference that has created so much commotion in the past few weeks.
Since the Los Angeles Lakers completed their second straight championship run, the NBA has been all about the East, with six of the top seven free agents signing with Eastern Conference teams, including a certain triumvirate in Miami.
To look ahead at the 2010-11 season and beyond, we asked 93 of ESPN’s best basketball minds for their forecasts, including contributors from ESPN television and radio, ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Insider, ESPN Stats & Information, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Multimedia, ESPN Fantasy, ESPN Interactive Games, ESPN DB and ESPN.com.
Here’s what was said about the Orlando Magic, who are projected to finish 56-26 and second in the Eastern Conference behind the Miami Heat (five games, to be exact):
The Magic stumbled vs. the Celtics in the East finals, but this is much the same team that won five series the past two postseasons. Orlando might have some magical maneuvers left, perhaps shipping out Vince Carter and/or finding a way to get Chris Paul. Until then, given Miami’s summer, Orlando reverts to dangerous sleeper status.
The predictions have only just started.
Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images
The [Orlando] Magic have absolutely no shot at competing with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat.
And neither does anybody else (except maybe the Lakers).
That’s not me talking; that’s Jeff Van Gundy, brother of Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. [...]
“They (Heat) will break the single-season win record [of 72],” Jeff Van Gundy told the Herald. “And I think they have a legit shot at the Lakers’ 33-game [winning] streak [in 1971-72], as well. And only the Lakers have even a remote shot at beating them in a playoff series. They will never lose two games in a row this year.”
It’s easy to proclaim Jeff Van Gundy’s statements as crazy but when looking past some of his statements, he could be potentially correct that the Orlando Magic have little to no shot competing against the Miami Heat. This isn’t to suggest that the Heat will be invincible, given that they haven’t stepped on the court together yet and no one knows what will happen until the games are played, but many smart people project them to be a very good team next season.
Historically good? It’s way too early to tell.
One way or the other, the Magic will have their work cut out for them next year in the Eastern Conference — not only against the Heat but also against the Boston Celtics. That’s the reality of the situation. Nevertheless, people will get an early glimpse at how Orlando will stack up against Miami when they face off against each other on October 29 at the AmericanAirlines Arena. Then maybe everyone can start putting the pieces of the puzzle together.
Only three months to go.
- Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com: “While most NBA players spend time on vacation with family and friends, participate in worldwide basketball camps and charity events and prepare for training camp by expending energy in the weight room, some are in still in serious competition on the hardwood. Marcin Gortat, for example, is one of them. Aside from his ultimate goal of helping the Orlando Magic capture their first NBA championship, the Polish Hammer is in the midst of trying to lead his home country to EuroBasket 2011. After a disappointing opening qualifying game against Georgia on Monday, Poland rebounded to earn a convincing 86-64 triumph over Portugal on Thursday. Gortat registered a game-high 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field and added 11 rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Dwight Howard may have the nickname Superman, but even his busy summer plans can be altered by an unexpected detour. Howard’s participation in the current Basketball without Borders camp in Senegal has been cancelled, an NBA official told the Orlando Sentinel this morning. Howard’s flight from Washington, D.C., to Senegal was cancelled Thursday night and, therefore, there would have been no way for the Orlando Magic center to arrive in Senegal any earlier than Saturday morning.”
- Marcin Gortat throwing it down with authority in a EuroBasket qualifier.
- Eric Freeman of The Baseline: “So, just to be clear, O’Neal should have gone to Orlando because it would have been a nice bookend to his career. Somehow, he wouldn’t have been an over-the-hill hired gun there, even though he would have seen even less minutes than he will in Boston with Howard and Marcin Gortat already on the roster. Because he needed to be a mentor to Howard? Is Shaq really the guy you want mentoring anyone, especially considering his issues with conditioning throughout his career? Plus, would the Magic even want him? Shaq would be a distraction and need minutes that the Magic don’t have in their frontcourt as is. The last thing they need is another high-profile player who needs at least 15 minutes per game. They’d be much better off playing Gortat and Brandon Bass instead. In Boston, Shaq will at least be on a veteran team where he clearly fits into a role. It may have been a nice story to see him return to Orlando and help them win a championship, but that’s an extreme long shot and something that Shaq has never shown himself to be capable of. He’s not good at playing the classy veteran who’s just thankful to be back where it all started.”
- Get to know more about NBA zone defenses.
Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Shaquille O’Neal’s career should have had the perfect fairytale ending.
He should be finishing his NBA career where he started it all those years ago — right here in Orlando, trying to help the Magic win that elusive championship.
He could have gone out as a hero here. He could have been a mentor and a backup to Dwight Howard. He could have announced his retirement at the end of a ticker-tape parade in the city he and his mother still call home.
Instead, he will end his career as an over-the-hill hired gun in Boston, where he was signed for a minimum salary by the Celtics — a big, burly insurance policy mostly to provide six fouls against Howard and the Lakers’ big men. [...]
Now that he’s in Boston, you just wonder how long it will take Shaq to say something disparaging about Bill Russell or irk coach Doc Rivers with his selfishness and laziness. Prediction: The Celtics may be happy Shaq is coming to town, but they will be even happier when he leaves town in two years.
- George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “There were about 50 foster kids in the auditorium Wednesday afternoon. David Vaughn’s story did not resonate with all of them, but hopefully a handful of faces in the crowd heard every word, and found strength in his journey sprinkled with desperation and determination. Vaughn told them about his highs as a first-round draft pick of the Orlando Magic in 1995, the $1.8 million contract, the cars and all the other extravagant toys; his lows of depression and violence, and how he ended up as a wayward husband, homeless and destitute. “It’s a great experience to share my story,” Vaughn said. David Vaughn’s comeback likely won’t be documented in Sports Illustrated or ESPN, but it is worth telling because it reflects a tenacity not often seen on the competitive fields of play.”
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “Nobody is going to be better than the Miami Heat at the two, three and four spots. But picture them playing Orlando. Jameer Nelson has the ball (guarded by Mario Chalmers) and Dwight Howard (covered by Joel Anthony) comes out to set the high pick. That is a hard-to-stop P&R combo for any team, and the undersized Anthony is really going to struggle to stop the strength of Howard rolling to the rim. LeBron, Wade and Bosh are going to have a hard time helping out because you can’t leave Orlando’s perimeter shooters (especially when J.J. Redick is in for Vince Carter). Can Orlando beat Miami this way? Can some combination of the O’Neals (Shaquille and Jermaine) along with Kendrick Perkins (when he returns from injury) do the same thing for Boston? Is there a model for beating the Heat?”
- Chad Ford and John Hollinger of ESPN Insider update their NBA Future Power Rankings. The Magic fall from No. 3 last year to No. 7 this year: “We liked Orlando’s roster the best in March, but now the Magic don’t even have the best roster in Florida. Plus, we’re focused down the line, past this coming season, and that hurts the outlook for four of the five Magic starters. Nonetheless, this team looks stacked for the long term with Dwight Howard at center and a constellation of minor stars surrounding him. Additionally, keep an eye on young forward Ryan Anderson, who could become a better version of Troy Murphy. Orlando’s market looms as another big factor in its favor. With a new arena, a balmy climate and a dominant big man, it’s already near the top of Chris Paul’s short list of future destinations and could pop up on other players’ lists, too. The only major concern is the serious money the team is taking on. Orlando is a small market, but the team is well into the luxury tax and probably will remain that way for a while unless ownership demands a budget slashing. For now, it hasn’t, and with that, solid personnel moves under GM Otis Smith and the exacting coaching of Stan Van Gundy, the Magic get good marks for management.”
- Dwight Howard is one of the best bargains in the league.
- Rob Mahoney of The Two Man Game drops some knowledge: “To those still clinging to what they know, I’d ask this: what’s a power forward? What characteristics link Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, Rashard Lewis, Lamar Odom, Reggie Evans, Tyrus Thomas, and J.J. Hickson? Not rebounding. Not scoring. Not skill set. Not height relative to their teammates. Not even the spaces they occupy on the floor. I’m at a total loss as to the criterion that would group that bunch together, which makes the assessment “Player X isn’t a real power forward” pretty much worthless. I think I know what it means, but without the ability to define the contemporary power forward, how could I really know for sure?”
- Here is the inspiration for Mahoney’s post, by the way. The topic is about traditional positions.
Mercedes-Benz Florida Dealers Ink Deal with Orlando Magic to Sponsor Premium Seating Club in Amway Center
The Orlando Magic announced today a new, multi-year relationship with Mercedes-Benz of South Orlando, Mercedes-Benz of Orlando, Mercedes-Benz of Melbourne and Mercedes-Benz of Daytona. Through the partnership, premium season ticket holders will have access to the all-new Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge during Magic home games in the new Amway Center. Opening in the fall of 2010, the facility, which will be owned and operated by the City of Orlando on behalf of the Central Florida community, will compete to host major national events, concerts and family shows and serve as the new home of the Orlando Magic.
Located on the Event Level of the Amway Center near the Orlando Magic locker room, the Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge presents its patrons with unprecedented access to Magic players as they enter and exit the court, as well as an exclusive view of the opposing team. The space, which is over 13,000-square feet, allows members ample room to mingle while enjoying all-inclusive food and beverage and premium amenities, such as a full-service bar, seating and dining areas and visual access to both locker room areas. The Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge can be accessed only by courtside ticket holders and superstar season ticket holders in the first seven rows from the floor. [...]
In addition to the entitlement of the Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge, Mercedes-Benz will also have a permanent vehicle display on the Terrace Level next to the concierge area at the Amway Center, vehicle displays at Fan Fest on select dates, an in-market promotion during the season and special events sponsored by the local Mercedes-Benz dealerships: Mercedes-Benz of South Orlando, Mercedes-Benz of Orlando, Mercedes-Benz of Melbourne, and Mercedes-Benz of Daytona.
Orlando Magic Moms to Participate in Mothers of Professional Basketball Players (MPBP) First “Hoopin’ for Health” Charity Basketball Game in Orlando on August 7 to Benefit the United Negro College Fund
Via the Orlando Magic:
The Mothers of Professional Basketball Players (MPBP) square off against the Professional Football Players Mothers Association (PFPMA) in the first-ever “Hoopin’ for Health” Charity Basketball Game on Saturday, August 7 at 6 p.m. at Olympia High School in Orlando, Fla. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the United Negro College Fund.
The charity game will be held during the 2010 MPBP Annual Conference, scheduled for August 5-8 in Orlando, Fla. Tickets for the game are $10 and available now in advance through the UNCF Office (1080 Woodcock Road, Suite 280, Orlando, Fla. 32803) and Hope Church (Columbia Street and John Young Parkway) or at the door on game day. For additional ticket information, please call the UNCF Office at (407) 896-6940.
Orlando basketball stars Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis and former pro football stars Eddie George and Kenard Lang will serve as game referees. Former Pittsburgh great Jerome “The Bus” Bettis will provide commentary during the game.
In addition to raising money for the United Negro College Fund, both organizations are uniting in the mission to inspire women of all ages to become more active and mindful of weight related illness such as heart disease.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Dwight Howard has been long fed up with the LeBron Lovefest — even before it got super-sized. The reason Dwight says he doesn’t want to answer the questions about James and the Miami Heat is not just because he’s tired of the King. It’s because if Dwight truly said what he felt about James, he’d find himself in the middle of a media mess, although he no doubt would gain some allies in Cleveland. No, best to leave that one alone. Besides, Howard can’t afford to rile up the Heat Traveling All-Stars, given he might be outnumbered. But Howard is going to have to get used to LeBronmania virtually happening in his backyard.”
- Head coach Stan Van Gundy on Brandon Bass: “I don’t know [if Bass will play more]. It’s as simple as that. It will depend on Brandon, number one, if he’s able to improve in some of the areas that we think he has to improve in. Then he’s got a chance of playing more. There are other factors in terms of how lineups work and things like that that may be out of his control. But the biggest thing will be if he plays better in some areas. That’s to be seen.”
- Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com: “When I wake up on the morning of Friday, Oct. 29, I certainly don’t expect it to feel like any typical day. [...] On this atypical day, the Orlando Magic will get their first crack at the revamped Miami Heat. It will be their initial opportunity to prove they are still the more superior team in this newly-established, but rapidly evolving, Sunshine State rivalry. Since the week when LeBron James and Chris Bosh decided to unite with Dwyane Wade in Miami earlier this summer, much of the chit-chatter around central Florida has been placed on this new-fangled rivalry. NBA fanatics have turned to one another and curiously asked, “Can the Magic beat the Heat?” Just two days before celebrating one of the more popular holidays in American culture, Halloween, will it be Magic or Heat fans that deliver the initial scare to their adversaries? Although the game on Oct. 29 will be in South Beach at American Airlines Arena, I expect a hefty number of Magic fans to be present. If not at the game in Miami, nonetheless, every Magic supporter will undoubtedly be in front of a television to watch this highly-anticipated showdown.”
- Dwight Howard will make a trip to India to promote the NBA.
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk has more on the topic: “Apparently, basketball is a sport a lot of people in India play in their youth but don’t really follow as they get older. Sort of how much of America treats soccer. It doesn’t seem to get the blood going in India. Cricket does, because who doesn’t love a good five-day test? Field hockey, badminton and of course soccer are popular. But basketball has a long way to go. Sending Dwight Howard there is the first step. But this is going to be a longer, harder struggle than it has been in China. There are no players from India in the NBA (it’s doubtful there are any ready for major Division I college ball). It is going to take many years of sending players, hosting clinics, finding ways to put the game at its highest levels in front of people.”
- Marc Stein of ESPN.com: “The season’s first TNT Thursday will be recorded as certifiably historic in Orlando, where the Magic will play their first-ever game at the Amway Center against John Wall’s Washington Wizards. You can’t help but wonder, though, whether the league’s mythical scheduling computer spit out Washington as the first visitor to Orlando’s new building just in case the Wiz and Magic decide to resuscitate those trade talks headlined by Gilbert Arenas and Vince Carter over the next six weeks or so. Wall’s debut against Arenas? Tantalizing thought.”
- Austin Burton of Dime Magazine: “Orlando at Miami (Oct. 29, ESPN) — Although the rest of the schedule hasn’t been released, I’m thinking this will be the home debut of the Super-Friends. This will also be the first meeting in what should be a fierce cross-state rivalry for the next decade. Dwight Howard has been working on his post moves with Hakeem Olajuwon this summer, and will try to break some out against the team that’s hi-jacked all of his hype in the state of Florida. Dwight and Chris Bosh have always had a competitive, high-scoring rivalry, and LeBron has his own scores to settle with the Magic.”