Orlando Magic's Top Training Camp Storylines
Without the production, and the distractions, stimulating from Dwight Howard, the Orlando Magic head into training camp with a few storylines that have been somewhat foreign to the team the last few years.
Not only is the team preparing for possibly their worst season of the past decade, as many project the roster to be the worst in the Association, but the team doesn't even know who will be their major producers.
At least, dismal teams like the Charlotte Bobcats and the Detroit Pistons know who their leaders statistically are going to be, but Orlando's starting lineup is still largely up in the air. That's what happens when a franchise enters a rebuilding period after losing the best center in the league.
Nevertheless, stay tuned for information regarding the Magic's training camp, as it may provide valuable insight into the plans for this squad.
Who Will Make Up the Big Man Rotation?
The Orlando Magic witnessed their two best big man leave the franchise in Dwight Howard and Ryan Anderson. One left the franchise for greener pastures, while the other was shipped to New Orleans with hopes of putting the Hornets back on the map.
Nevertheless, the team must find a way to produce the 37 points and 22 boards per game left by the duo of Howard and Anderson. This will be no small feat, and don't expect the Magic to find a way to recreate all of this production with a rather young, but talented, frontcourt.
Who will be featured in said frontcourt, though?
As of right now, the team has eight different players capable of garnering major minutes in the rotation: Gustavo Ayón, Nikola Vučević, Glen Davis, Al Harrington, Andrew Nicholson, Justin Harper, Kyle O'Quinn and Josh McRoberts.
The only certainty to gain a large role in this group is Glen Davis, who has been vying for a starting job for quite some time now.
Veterans Al Harrington and Gustavo Ayón will probably see minutes in the rotation, as their refined and mature games will help bring consistency to the big man positions.
Prospects Andrew Nicholson, Justin Harper, Kyle O'Quinn and Nikola Vučević will all fight for minutes at the end of blowout games in the beginning of the season. However, expect their roles to be expanded, if the Magic fall out of postseason contention.
Josh McRoberts, on the other hand, will most likely not even make the roster, let alone gain playing time in the rotation.
Does Ish Smith Retain Backup Point Guard Duties?
Last season, the Orlando Magic franchise, along with their loyal fans, had to endure the mediocre, boring play of Chris Duhon when starter Jameer Nelson needed a rest. What made matters worse was the fact former head coach Stan Van Gundy refused to utilize the young, electric Ish Smith.
Now, the job is Smith's to lose, but the options available for new head coach Jacque Vaughn's disposal are quite tempting.
E'Twaun Moore, a former Boston Celtic, has a solid offensive game and, while he may be better suited to play the shooting guard position with his lanky 6'4" frame, his facilitating skills are not too shabby.
His size and athleticism coupled with Nelson's natal point guard abilities may form a dynamic one-two punch at the position.
Armon Johnson, much like Moore, is a larger point guard at 6'3", but doesn't have the great scoring prowess. Throughout his brief career, Johnson hasn't had many opportunities to prove himself and, without any eye-popping qualities, don't expect that to change.
In the end, Smith will probably end up with the role. Point guards rely on chemistry with their teammates and he is the only returning player of this group of three. However, Smith won't have the luxury to prove himself in training camp, as he will be recovering from offseason surgery to repair a labrum injury.
Will Forwards Harrington and Harkless Be Ready for the Start of the Season?
The Orlando Magic thankfully don't have many injuries to deal with before the start of the season. However, there are a couple lingering around that should hopefully not pose too much of a problem.
First of all, new addition Al Harrington has recovered well from his scary staph infection that was contracted from an arthroscopic surgery in May to repair torn meniscus cartilage in his right knee. These are the instances where fans are reminded that basketball is just a game.
"It was very scary," Harrington said. "Number one, it could take your life. You could lose a limb and all types of stuff. All that stuff was going through my head, but thank God I was able to get it cleaned out fast enough."
He went on to say that he hopes to be fully recovered in the next few weeks. That's good news for the Magic, as it means that he will probably be ready for the start of the season.
Moe Harkless and Ish Smith, on the other hand, are recovering from offseason surgeries to repair a torn labrum and sports hernia, respectively. While neither are expected to be till mid-November, this will not be too much of an issue, as the Magic are quite deep in both the point guard and small forward positions.
Can Coach Jacque Vaughn Become a Quality Head Coach?
With the rigorous schedule during the NBA season, there are few chances where a coach can make a major impression on their team. That is why coach Jacque Vaughn needs to show that he is capable of becoming a quality leader at the professional level.
The fact of the matter is there are numerous question marks regarding Vaughn, including his lack of experience and age.
Plus, he works for a team whose fans have become accustomed to winning seasons.
In the few preseasons games before the start of the regular season, Vaughn must make the Magic a well oiled machine, disciplined enough to take down the most talented opponents.
The team will most likely not earn a playoff berth, but fighting for ping pong balls is not the path the team should to follow either.
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