Tuesday, August 01, 2006

2006/07 Preview : Orlando Magic

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Orlando have recently re-signed Trevor Ariza, the twenty-one year-old swingman who GM Otis Smith describes as "a key part of (Orlando's) young core."

As it stands, Orlando's roster is now heading in a positive direction for the future. The nucleus of the team is very young AND talented. I thought it was time to take a brief look at how the Magic are looking for next season (and the future).

Point Guard

Likely starter: Jameer Nelson. The stocky PG will give you a solid 15ppg and 5apg - with those averages likely to rise given a full season without Steve Francis around. His ability to knock down the three-ball is also a bonus.

Carlos Arroyo adds poise and experience to the bench, both in the NBA and internationally. Meanwhile sophomore Travis Diener has done his best to play his way into the team with 20.3ppg and 6.5apg during Summer League play.

Shooting Guard

Likely starter: JJ Redick. The 22 year-old rookie should get minutes right away. His shooting ability and big game NCAA experience mean he will have the ability to enter the rotation almost immediately.

Keyon Dooling provides versatility off the bench, with his ability to handle the point and athleticism. Off-season signing Keith Bogans (a previous member of the Magic) can also swing to the small-forward position and despite being only 25 is relatively experienced as this squad goes.

Small Forward

Likely starter: Grant Hill is back for another attempt. Here's hoping for his sake that the elder-stateman of the team can 'get a break' of the good variety this season (after only appearing in 21 games last season and no more than 67 games since 1999-2000). When he is healthy he is one of the premier small forwards in the game at scoring. Unfortunatley it is unlikely that the Magic will see more than spurts of brilliance that he once showed in a Pistons uniform ("Grant Hill drinks Sprite").

Hedo Turkoglu is a savvy veteran coming into his seventh season in the league. He can hit the outside shot and has good size at the three spot. He will likely be the starter if (read: when) Hill goes down. At the age of 27 he is one of the more experienced players on the squad.

Ariza will likely see a large amount of minutes here - particularly should there be injury concerns for Hill. Ariza's athletic defense will be appreciated by coach Brian Hill.

Power Forward

Likely starter: Dwight Howard is the cornerstone of this team. His talent seems almost limitless and the way in which the 20 year-old will dominate this league in years to come brings fear to opponents. He is a guaranteed double-double. The Magic would like him to stick around for a long time.

Darko Millicic has been freed. This season will be his chance to prove that he deserved to be freed by Detroit sooner. His performance will determine whether he backs up Howard or starts in the middle. Either way, the Magic feel that they have got a steal that will be developing with their young nucleus for years to come.

Bo Outlaw, should he re-sign, will get spot duty here where necessary.


Likely starter: Tony Battie. Once again Battie will be relied upon to man the middle and provide interior defence. To date he has never fulfilled the potential that Boston expected of him. He will likely share time with Milicic and three-point shooting big man Pat Garrity.

Mario Kasun has left the league, signing with Spanish team Winterthur FC Barcelona. The Magic were hoping for bigger things from him and are now lacking some quality size at the five spot to assist Howard on the boards.


Don't look for big things from the Magic this season, although they did raise hopes with a 16-6 finish to last season. This is a team built for the future. Otis Smith seems to be doing all the right things to get a positive group of young players together. Should be given time to meld, a combination of Nelson, Redick, Ariza, Howard and Milicic, amongst others, could be driving Orlando back to the heady days of deep playoff action. Here's a great history of the franchise since the days of Penny & Shaq, as a reminder.

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