After a rough start to their season, losing to the Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzles, the Orlando Magic have won eight of their last nine games, and are back in first in the Southeast division.
This year so far, they are definitely improved on the defensive side of the court, and having Tony Battie back has really helped the team, along with Orlando's new addition this season, Mickeal Pietrus.
Their offense though has yet to have the offensive outburst that they were able to do on a consistent basis last year, and yes that includes their win over the Kings where they scored 121 points.
One key problem I see with this team is their depth at point guard. Is it possible that I miss Keyon Dooling and Carlos Arroyo? Anthony Johnson, in my opinion, just doesn't have what it takes to be a second string point guard in this league anymore. Consider them lucky as well, with the way that Jameer Nelson has come out of the gate. People always say that Nelson is not that good of a guard, and he should be on the bench, but he is a huge reason for why this team is 8-3 right now.
A point guard they were rumored to be interested in the offseason was the Grizzles Javaris Crittenton. He produces an offense that Johnson just doesn't have. Seriously, as a Magic fan, I would love to have that guy on the team right now.
Honestly, I don't think that this 8-3 record is deserving, and if they play this way against the teams on their schedule in December, they're in trouble. They played horrible nearly the majority of their games. Chicago, Dallas, and Charlotte all are games they should have lost.
Maybe that is a good thing though. Last year, they would have lost to those teams. This year, they aren't shooting well at all coming out of the game, but they're finding ways to win their games.
Rashard Lewis has had times where he's looked great, though he still isn't worth the big paycheck the Magic gave him last year, and he probably never will, but he's still a good player. If it wasn't for Lewis, they probably lose that game against Dallas last Friday.
The last couple of games, teams have been able to give Dwight Howard problems. Yes, Superman has had problems.
Against Toronto, Howard fouled out, and for the second straight game he wasn't able to get double digits in rebounds. All was okay though, because Hedo Turkoglu took over like he usually does in the fourth quarter.
Pietrus has looked great, and has probably looked better than some expected. He was out for the game against Toronto, and J.J. Redick came in and actually played really well, so if we are trying to get Crittenton, I wouldn't trade Redick, and I am not exactly a fan of Duke players.
When the Magic have played the Sixers and Raptors, they've looked good, and everyone seems to like those teams, especially because their additions in the offseason. Early in the year, the Detroit Pistons made a trade that had Allen Iverson come to Detroit, and Chauncey Billups go to Denver.
I personally love this trade, and think it helps the Magic, because Detroit was a team that was consistently in the Eastern Conference Finals because of Mr. Big Shot. I know Iverson is a great player, and basically was a Magic killer when he played for the Sixers, but Billups is a player you build a championship with.
After this trade, I personally think that Cleveland is a better team than the Pistons are right now, even though Detroit beat them a couple nights ago.
Boston is still the favorite if you're wondering, and I honestly believe now that after this trade with Detroit, the Magic really do have a chance to face the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.
A whole lot of things have to go their way, and they have to find their shooting touch that they lost from last year.
They have to find the depth at point guard, like Javaris Crittenton, and they still probably have to sign a big forward. I would suggest looking into Antonio McDyess, since he's a free agent right now.
In my opinion, they're close to contending with Boston in the Eastern Conference, but they're not quite there yet. Still a lot of work to do.