- 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.
Via the Orlando Magic:
WHO: Orlando Magic fans, Magic Community Ambassadors Nick Anderson and Bo Outlaw, STUFF the Magic’s mascot and the Orlando Magic Dancers
WHAT: The Magic will host a Select-A-Seat event where fans are invited to see available seats for the upcoming 2010-11 season. This is the inaugural Amway Center seat selection event where the general public can come and select the best remaining seats for the 2010-11 season. This is the last opportunity for Magic fans to guarantee seats to see the Miami Heat, L.A. Lakers or Boston Celtics before they go on sale to the general public.
- Event is free
- First opportunity to see the Orlando Magic court down in the Amway Center
- Plans offered at this event will include full season, half-season and 15-game ticket plans
- Fun, interactive games on-site will include: STUFF’s Magic Castle presented by Club Wyndham interactive area and face painting
- Select retail locations will be open for the purchase of Magic merchandise
- STUFF and the Magic Dancers will be in attendance to sign autographs and take photos
- Magic Community Ambassadors Nick Anderson and Bo Outlaw will be signing autographs
- Free popcorn and soda will be available for all guests
- Free parking will be available in the GEICO garage on a first-come, first-serve basis
WHEN: Sunday, October 3, 2010, 1 – 4 p.m.
400 West Church Street
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Recaps: All Previews
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “When the practice ended, [Stan] Van Gundy gathered his players at midcourt and gave them the option of holding the day’s second practice later than the scheduled 4 p.m. start time. It’s interesting to me that Van Gundy solicited their feedback, but the players had no objections to going at 4. The team broke his huddle by saying “Be great” in unison. The team will focus on its shooting and will lift weights in its afternoon session. Another interesting tidbit: Van Gundy mentioned once again that was especially pleased with Vince Carter’s conditioning efforts during the offseason. Van Gundy noted that Carter’s body fat level is 3 percent lower than it was at this time last year.”
- For Vince Carter, the guessing game is over.
- Jameer Nelson wasn’t bothered by the trade rumors involving Chris Paul.
- Head coach Stan Van Gundy speaks about the Miami Heat: “I just know and the players know that nobody can win a championship without going on the court and doing it. We’re not playing in a fantasy league. You want to win in this league, you have to go on the court and get it done. I don’t think anybody is doubting Miami’s talent and the fact that they’re going to be a serious challenge. But we don’t doubt Boston’s talent or them being a serious challenge. Or Atlanta, Chicago, Washington, Philadelphia… there’s a lot of people that got better in the East. The challenge only rises and I think we’re only confident in our team, and we look forward to those challenges ahead.”
- Matt Moore of CBSSports.com: “Imagine that Vince Carter falls off the production cliff as age catches up with him and Rashard Lewis has another slight downturn. SVG starts to lose the locker room and all of a sudden the Magic have a disappointing season. Howard is going to keep that free agency possibility in his pocket as long as he has to to make sure the Magic continue to put him in a position to contend. Now, sure, the more likely scenario is the Magic have an Eastern Conference Finals run or better in them this season and everything looks up, he may commit. He genuinely loves the team, the city, and the organization. Being that kind of hero probably appeals to his temperament. But he’s going to maintain his position, the same position LeBron James and Chris Bosh held at this point in their career. Always saying the right things without saying the thing that locks you in. This summer was all about players getting what they want how they want, when they want. And it sounds like Dwight Howard will be following that formula to a T.”
- Check out the Orlando Magic team photo in 360 degrees. Very cool.
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk previews the season for the Magic: “The Magic may have the best roster to beat the Heat. Miami is insanely good at the two, three and four — if you beat them it will be by exploiting them at the point guard and center spots. I can see a playoff series where the Magic will run the Nelson/Howard pick-and-roll every time down, daring Bosh to help off Rashard Lewis or Wade off [J.J.] Redick. (Matt Barnes used to be the guy you helped off of, do that now and [Quentin] Richardson makes you pay.) Maybe the Heat can adjust, maybe they can just overwhelm, but don’t think they can just roll the Magic. That would be a great series. The Magic did not make many roster changes, nor should they have (unless an amazing opportunity fell in their lap). They went to the Finals two seasons ago. The second half of last season they were the best team in basketball, up until they ran into the playoff buzz saw that was the Celtics. This team is good, this team is on the edge of winning it all. You don’t mess with that much. They Magic will be one of the best regular season teams in the league, no doubt. The question is will they hone their game enough during the season to take the next step in the playoffs”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post provided excellent coverage of Media Day for Orlando. Make sure to check out his posts on J.J. Redick, Daniel Orton, Marcin Gortat, and Chris Duhon. Enjoy!
- More from Rock: “Reserve small forward Mickael Pietrus might just be the most fun player on the team to talk to. He kept the media around him in stitches with his earnest positivity. At times, it seems like Stan Lee is writing his dialog from the 1960s, as each of his sentences seems to end with at lest one exclamation point. The highlight of the day, for me, came when Pietrus said team chemistry ‘is as high as the Eiffel Tower!’ Later, he said it was an honor to be among the first players to take the court at the new Amway Center, while blowing a kiss in the direction of the old Amway Arena, saying ‘we’ll miss him.’ And no discussion with Pietrus is complete until he uses some variation of the line ‘life’s too short to be unhappy.’ ”
- Reminiscing on the good times with Horace Grant.
- The very best of Media Day in the NBA, brought to you by Trey Kerby of Ball Don’t Lie.
- “R” is for redemption and if anyone needs it, it’s Carter: “VC was awful in the playoffs last year for Orlando, and in the last year of his last major contract, this is the time to steer it right. No fadeaways, no nighttime classes, no headbands, and no moping. OK, there’s probably going to be moping. But get it together, Vince.”
- General manager Otis Smith is pulling no punches on the Heat: “They’ve got a good three (players). I’ve got a good 12. We’re as deep as any team in the league, probably deeper. They’ve got three, and we’re solid 1-12. Until they start playing the games, it’s just a team on paper.”