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Are the Orlando Magic still contending for the Eastern Conference, or does this current offseason fall between success or failure?
Offseasons are usually a haven for teams to become contenders or to rebuild with youth. The Orlando Magic are currently struggling to maintain a contender's spot in the East without being overshadowed by powerhouses like the Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics. Could the current offseason be a barometer of success for the Orlando Magic?
Let's go through all the transactions the Magic made this summer, and construct some plausible scenarios of what could potentially put them in a positive direction.
Draft night, 2008. The Orlando Magic are slotted into the 22nd position, which ultimately landed someone by the name of Courtney Lee. At first, I was sceptical from the pick. My initial thought was, why didn't we try and get our hands on someone who could make a decent impact in our frontcourt?
Why not gamble on a young and potential stud in Serge Ibaka, or trade up for another nice piece in Joey Dorsey? Both of these players have something that only one player on the current roster has—a hustle-orientated rebounding and rough game.
That's something the Orlando Magic needed, but instead they chose a shooting guard.
But the more I think about it, the more obvious the choice was. Courtney Lee is a NBA-ready player who has height, a nice offensive, game and something that resembles a defensive game.
Prior to the Mickael Pietrus move, who on the Magic could we possibly say that about? Keith Bogans, who is defensive-oriented, and perimeter player Maurice Evans—who is no longer with the Magic. Combine their size and readiness with a great perimeter shooting and a game which can finish at the basket, and you have a player resembling Lee.
Although he's not going to get major minutes, the 10-15 minutes he gets on the court could be crucial. He also lengthens our bench, which used to be one of the worst in the game.
Second transaction, and perhaps one of the best moves Otis Smith has made in a while—chasing after the French-man Mickael Pietrus. He's going to instantly improve the team, both offensively and defensively.
It was evident Pietrus was the best defender on the Warriors last season—something the Magic have lacked. Although people don't catch onto this, his defensive game allows him to play up against the Kobe Bryants, Chris Pauls, Lebron James and Chauncy Billups of the game.
Is this the answer for the Orlando Magic come playoffs? It sure is. Facing Detroit, Orlando would have an answer for Chauncy Billups, who has relentlessly dominated Jameer Nelson.
Pietrus is a key and possibly underrated player for next season—someone who quietly achieves and does everything very well.
The Magic have had their share of players leave, even while new one have been coming in. Say goodbye to Mo Evans and Keyon Dooling, but welcome in Anthony Johnson—a defensive-oriented veteran who can lead off the bench.
Does anyone else like the current look of our bench? Compare it last season's, and tell me who's better.
Who remembers Tony Battie? A solid role player along side Dwight Howard, who is potentially starting this season. Does this leave us with a much deeper bench? Yes it does, the possibilities are somewhat endless. Our second unit is looking decent:
PG: Anthony Johnson
SG: Courtney Lee
SF: Hedo Turkoglu / Rashard Lewis
PF: Brian Cook
C: Marcin Gortat
Not bad for one offseason, eh?
Now, the potential scenarios. How much more can the Orlando Magic do before the season begins? Not much, but they can add a few more minimal pieces.
Someone who I've been high on is Reggie Evans. Or what about the young buster Chucky Hayes, who looks to be expandable? Another busting big man would be essential to relieving pressure off Dwight Howard, so he can further dominate.
We're nearing a Eastern Conference Finals birth. Are we finally getting somewhere? Does this offseason represent success? Or will we bask in failure?
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