Orlando’s rise to the top of the East. It’s like… Magic

It’s fun to see a voice from our commenters section seize the big SLAMonline stage. With Orlando’s surprise ascension to early season Eastern Conference powerhouse, it makes perfect sense to have a surprise Friday afternoon post about them. See, it all makes sense DON’T QUESTION ME -Sam

By Dan Ilika

One dream one soul,
One prize one goal.

Although quoting Queen lyrics can be, well, a little lame when it comes to the context of basketball, it seems kind of fitting in a case like this.

Yes, it is a reference to the Orlando Magic, but there is more to it than meets the eye.

Despite the relative successes of the O’Neal-Hardaway-Anderson era, there hasn’t been much to smile about in the Orlando-area outside of Disney World. But all of that may have changed seemingly over night.

With Grant Hill’s mammoth contract coming off the books this past off-season, it seemed as though it was time for the dormant franchise to finally make some moves to get itself to the front of the pack in the Eastern Conference. And while the signing of Rashard Lewis brought with it some scrutiny from fans and the media alike, he seemed to be the scoring punch Orlando needed to take the next step; next it was time to tear off the band-aid that was Brian Hill so this young team could spread it proverbial wings and fly.

Enter Billy Donovan.

Exit Billy Donovan.

In a matter of just two days the team went from making a stir to not even a murmur.

Even with Stan Van Gundy taking over the reigns as head coach, it seemed to many that it was going to be another long year for that other team in Florida. But through the first 20 games of the season (13 of those being on the road), the team has compiled a rather respectable 16-4 record, good for second in the Eastern Conference. So what’s their secret?

It’s a kind of magic.

When reflecting back on the aforementioned song lyrics, it is rather obvious that all NBA teams share the dream and the goal of winning a championship, but only one team can hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy each June. To do that it takes soul, something that many NBA teams simply don’t have. And from the blue-collar coaching of Van Gundy to the playful nature of guys like Dwight Howard, it seems as though this team has something special.

Did I forget to mention the talent?

While many critics out there didn’t know how well Lewis and fellow forward Hedo Turkoglu would mesh, let alone Lewis and Howard, things have seemed to work out pretty well thus far, with Howard putting up MVP numbers like stickers to backboards and Lewis and Turkoglu contributing rather respectable numbers while splitting time at the forward spots. In fact, Orlando’s threesome is averaging 60.8 of the team’s 104-points per game, with Howard and Turkoglu putting up career numbers across the board.

Despite the fact that, only 20 games into the season, it is far too early to make any real predictions when it comes to such a young and inexperienced team, one thing can be can be certain, and that’s the proof that sometimes all it takes is just a kind of magic. Move over Golden State, we just may have another Cinderella on our hands.