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Thinking back to October, I wasn’t particularly optimistic about covering the Magic for the 2012-13 season. You didn’t have to over-analyze anything to realize the Magic were rebuilding, as they spent the summer offing the likes of Stan Van Gundy, Dwight Howard, and Ryan Anderson. This team was going to stink and everyone knew it. Or at least they thought they did.
Now Orlando is creeping up on mediocrity and looking more and more like an average NBA team. That’s troubling to some, as all this hard work and team effort will seemingly only amount to a low draft pick and more averageness.
I, however, have enjoyed this run of success Orlando has experienced in the early goings of the regular season. Themes of team effort, all-out defense, ball movement, and solid coaching echo throughout Orlando. And here they are at 8-12. It caused me to look back at five projected reasons for imminent failure this season and how Orlando has defied those expectations.
No Dwight Howard
This only really concerned me from a defensive standpoint. Sure, you miss a big threat in the middle offensively but truth be told, I thought Orlando would get murdered in the paint on defense. With a lack of size and a real lack of any major threat at the rim, it seemed as though teams would be able to waltz in, feed the post, attack the hoop, and live either in the paint or at the free-throw line.
What we’ve seen, though, is a real team effort and I mean that in every cliche sense of the phrase. Quite literally, the Magic’s defense has kept them in most of the games that they’ve played. It’s no secret the Magic lack any scoring punch, so you have to point to their eighth-ranked defense that has kept them afloat without a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate serving as the anchor.