In 2009, The Magic made a run to the finals, however, they were easily dispatched by Kobe Bryant led Lakers. In 2010, the Magic attempted to return to the NBA finals, however they were taken out by the Celtics. This season, this Magic squad is not playing like the one that led them to the finals.
Now, remember, you have to take into account that a few players have been sick the past couple of days, but still, they aren't playing on the same level that they did.
Now, today, the Magic trade an aging Rashard Lewis for a younger Gilbert Arenas. They also give up an older Vince Carter, center Marcin Gortat, forward Mickael Pietrus, a 2011 first-round pick and cash considerations for Jason Richardson, Earl Clark, and former Magic member Hedo Turkoglu.
Gilbert Arena, despite his troubles, is still a talented player. Jason Richardson is a great three point shooter, and would fit in with the Magic team great. Earl Clark, I honestly have no clue who this is, so I will not rate. Hedo Turkoglu was a part of the 2009 Magic, and helped lead the team to the finals. I doubt Hedo will have much trouble with fitting in with his old team.
So, with these trades, are the Magic back in the conversation for the NBA championship? Let's look at this stats-wise.
Rashard Lewis season stats:
Gilbert Arenas season stats:
This trade makes sense. Although Gilbert has a lower shooting percentage and a lower rebounding rate, he makes up for it with higher points, steals, blocks, and a big difference in assists.
Plus, Gilbert is younger then Rashard. Only by two years, but the point is clear, Gilbert is an upgrade from Rashard. But, what about the Phoenix trade? Is that worth it? Let's see.
The younger Mickael isn't as productive, or accurate as Turkoglu.
This one is pretty interesting. Carter has more assists. Jason has more points, but both are pretty similar in the other categories. Not including the fact that Vince Carter is four years older, this is a pretty fair trade.
Earl Clark doesn't have a counterpart, this is his first season. Instead, he's being traded for cash and a 1st round draft pick. Hopefully Earl Clark is worth it.
Now, back to the question. Are the Magic capable of returning to the playoffs? Well that's obvious, of course they can. However, can they make it to the finals? If they can overcome the talented Bulls, the powerhouse of Miami, and the veteran Boston squads, then yes.
At first sight, this deal is a steal for the Magic. However, we must wait for the final factor to take into account. The factor of time. Maybe Gilbert and Jason will end up sinking in the Magic, maybe they will end up playing even better. My guess is that Gilbert's and Jason's talents will compliment that of Dwight Howard.
So, let's say the new Magic players, play the norm, the same stats, and all. That's about a 15 point gain for the Orlando Magic per game. That's a lot of points, and well worth the trade. The Magic can return to the finals. If they can take the championship, that depends on who they face.
If it's against the Lakers, I think the Lakers would win, but it'd be a close 3-4 victory. If it's the Spurs, the Dwight Howard /Jason Richardson/Gilbert Arenas combo, I think would be enough to take out the veteran Spurs squad.
So, are the Magic a great team? Yes. Can they going to make it to the Conference Finals? Yes. Can they win a championship? Yes.
Please, keep in mind that, this isn't an all or nothing year for the Magic. It's more an all or nothing year for the Lakers, for the Celtics, the Spurs, the Mavericks. The Magic have plenty of time to continue to develop and progress into a championship team.
This was my first article, constructive criticism is welcome.