Thursday, June 14, 2012

How Can I Help You? Orlando Magic

Howard's drama has taken its toll on the team.
A team that made it to the NBA Finals a mere three years ago is on the verge of collapsing under its selfish superstar and entering a very painful rebuilding process. The Orlando Magic need to trade Dwight Howard this season and get young pieces for him so they can start rebuilding. They'll do their best to replace aging players and free agents in this year's draft.

The biggest free agent leaving Orlando is point guard Jameer Nelson, and it's unlikely he'll be resigned. Nelson seems to have lost a step since the Magic glory days, and the team will be looking for his replacement. The other key FA is Ryan Anderson. Anderson had a breakout year last season. His combination of size and three point shooting has turned him into the cornerstone of this team. He's still only 24, so the Magic will do whatever it takes to resign him. Every other free agent will probably go, except for Earl Clark who will likely exercise his player option.

With that being said, the only point guard left on the roster is the ancient Chris Duhon who averaged 3.8 points per game last season. It's time to find a new PG. At shooting guard are Jason Richardson and J. J. Redick. This is a sticky situation. Richardson can still produce but is certainly getting older. Redick has improved over the years, but it's hard to say that he's a starting caliber player. SG is not a major need, but it wouldn't be shocking to see them draft one.

Hedo Turkoglu lies at small forward and he really needs to go. Orlando would love to dump his salary somewhere else. Power forward is the position where the Magic have the most depth. Anderson is the starter, Justin Harper is a second year man out of Richmond who is still developing, and Clark can play some minutes there as well. The team shouldn't draft for that position.

Then there's the question of center. You know Howard is out one way or another. Glen Davis is the current starter, and although he's only 6'9", he dominated filling in for Howard in a small Magic lineup. He's proven he can play and deserves the job. However, drafting a big man is not out of the question. They've been so used to having a dominant C, and at the very least, they'll want depth behind Davis.

So here are the Magic's needs in order of importance: Point guard, small forward, big man to back up (or replace) Davis, wing defender.

Orlando picks 19th and 49th in the draft. PG and SF are the two biggest needs, and we'll consider center too with the first pick.

Teague would be Orlando's PG of the future.
As I mentioned in one of my last articles, the best and only point guard to take at this position is Kentucky's Marquis Teague. Teague shined in the NCAA tournament last year and showed flashes of a talented and attacking PG like his brother, Jeff. Tony Wroten from Washington is another option, but Teague shows superior passing skills and potential.

If small forward is what they desire at this spot, look at a pair of Jones': Terrence and Perry. These two are very versatile and are oozing with potential, meaning they could still be available at #19 or could be already taken in the lottery. St. John's Moe Harkless is another choice, and although he is still raw, he will provide an immediate scoring punch.

Moving on to the 49th pick, the Magic still have a lot of options. A defensive SF is probably their best best, but don't be surprised if they draft a center. I've gone over quite a few times the big men is this draft because the C position is so thin. Andre Drummond will go in the lottery. Meyers Leonard and Tyler Zeller will go either right in or right out of the lottery. Fab Melo and Festus Ezeli will go late first round. That leaves the usual suspects: Henry Sims and Robert Sacre. While I think Sims is the better prospect, Sacre is a better fit for Orlando. His bulk will help with Davis' lack of size and his impressive post moves will try and help the team forget about Howard. Plus, he's an 80% free throw shooter, something that would make the Magic jump for joy.

At the three spot, two players jump out to me. Kris Joseph of Syracuse has incredible length and could become a very good defender in this league. Alex Young of IUPUI has excellent scoring ability, and he too could be a great defender.

Personally, I think the team should grab Teague and Sacre. That would give them a starting five of Marquis Teague, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, Ryan Anderson, and Glen Davis, and a bench of J. J. Redick, Earl Clark, Justin Harper, and Robert Sacre. This team still looks like it could possibly sneak into the playoffs, and if they have a solid draft and get a good haul for Howard, the Magic should make a smooth transition.

Up next are the young and talented Denver Nuggets, who nearly stole a playoff series from the Lakers this year.

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