Magic ’10-11 Preview
30 teams in 30 days.
by Manny Maduakolam / @No_Ceiling2
So how many people got into a fight with their significant other, missed class or work, or went days without a bath because you were playing 2k11?
IGN Calls NBA 2k11 “the greatest sports game of this generation,” and, quite frankly, they might be right. My favorite feature of the game is of course the Franchise Mode. I get to shape a franchise to my vision of what a “Championship level” basketball team should be.
Now indulge with me for a second, close your eyes and imagine this…
You’re in franchise mode, and this is your team:
• An All-Star-quality point guard who, when healthy, averaged 19 ppg, 4 apg and 1 spg in the Playoffs.
• A sharpshooting 6-10 PF who shoots 40 percent from three-point land.
• A veteran, former All-Star, who is still an explosive offensive threat with above average shooting range.
• A bench that is about as deep as any team in the NBA.
So the question is, why hasn’t this team won a NBA Championship yet? What’s missing? The Orlando Magic have been to the NBA Playoffs four-straight years, even reaching the Finals in ‘08-09, produced back-to-back 59-win seasons, but has yet to take that final step to elite team status.
We hear about the same teams in the championship conversation this preseason: the Miami Thrice, the Lakers, the Celtics, and even the Thunder, but what about the Magic? They may have the most complete team in the NBA, other than the Lakers but have yet to be even mention in the same breath as those other teams. Why? My answer is simple, Dwight Howard.
Let’s talk about Superman.
Dwight Howard is a once in a life time talent. He is a 6-11 center who is gifted athletically, a shot blocking addict, and a rebounding machine. But we all know his kryptonite: He hasn’t taken that step to the next level. Think about it — with his skill set a player as talented as Dwight should be averaging 25 points a game, but his offensive game is far from polished, displaying basic post moves, if any. He seems to get 80 percent of his points from rebounds, alleys and put-backs, relying mainly on his athletic superiority than technique.
The better Dwight gets, the further the Magic get, the better leader he becomes, the more of a threat the Orlando Magic become. I really hope he soaks in all the tools the Great Hakeem Olajuwon taught him; imagine Howard with just half of the moves “The Dream” has? Who’s stopping him?
A scary and not so farfetched question is, what if Dwight Howard has reached his peak? What if Dwight Howard reached his ceiling and this is the player he is? Maybe we want him to be something he just no capacity to become. Maybe he isn’t going to be the next Olajuwon, or Ewing? Maybe this is the type of player he was destined to be.
But if Dwight Howard can establish a true post game, the Magic may damn well be unstoppable. Match that up with the fire power and depth the Magic have and this team can easily contend for the Championship.
Let’s examine the team. The newly added Chris Duhon solidified the backcourt, providing crucial insurance and experience in case Jameer Nelson can’t go, which history tells us will happen. Out goes Matt Barnes, in comes QRich, they may miss Matt Barnes’ defense, but if Quentin Richardson is in shape, they have a quality starting SF, who can put up points in a hurry and can shoot from the announcer table.
With Reddick, Anderson, Bass and Gortat, the Magic have one of the deepest benches in NBA plus a defensive stud in Mickael Pietrus as their sixth man, who routinely hits the clutch shot when called upon. If Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter can just stay healthy — and that’s a HUGE if — this team can be scary good. Both are All-Star quality players when they are on the court and healthy; providing consistent scoring help to Superman, with Vince Carter as the crunch time specialist who always makes at least three game-winners a season.
Let’s not forget about our $110 million man, Rashard Lewis, the underachiever. Yes, he does not deserve that money. Hell, he may not even deserve half that money, but look at this — he’s not called upon to be the first, second or third option, and that’s perfect. He just needs to be consistent. His quickness makes it difficult for most power forwards to guard and is always dangerous behind the three-point line.
If you’re looking for a dark horse to win it all, this may be the team. The Magic have one of the most complete teams in the NBA. They’re an offensive force that can light up the scoreboard and play great team defense with an underrated coaching staff. But it’s all on Dwight. If he takes that next, the Magic will be extremely hard to beat. If he’s doesn’t, it be the same song just like last year.
Prediction: 55-27, eliminated in the Conference Finals, playoff-bound, but just don’t see Dwight taking that next step. In 2k11, though, he may be better than the “real” superman, simply unstoppable.
Previous Season Previews can be found in the archive.