John Denton filed a bunch of reports from the first day of the Orlando Magic's training camp yesterday, and I encourage everyone to check them out in his Florida Today forum. Quotes from the reports, as well as my reaction, follow.
It sounds like Mickael Pietrus performed about as well as advertised yesterday. He made athletic defensive plays...
ORLANDO -- Rashard Lewis had never before been happier about getting a shot of his swatted out of the air.
"I was going to the basket on the fastbreak and I see Dwight Howard coming and I know I have to avoid him," Lewis said, recalling a moment from the Orlando Magic's first intrasquad scrimmage on Tuesday. "I get around (Howard) for the layup and all of a sudden (Mickael) Pietrus comes flying out of nowhere and blocks my shot. That's a nice feeling knowing that MP is flying around everywhere and being so athletic."
And he committed a ton of fouls...
The only thing that [Stan] Van Gundy didn't like about Pietrus' Magic debut Tuesday was that he was sometimes too aggressive and stopped play with fouls.
We've mentioned before that Pietrus commits far too many fouls, but it bears repeating: if he can't stay on the floor long enough to play effective defense, it means more minutes for Keith Bogans, which leaves the Magic essentially right where they were one year ago.
In better news, Courtney Lee feels comfortable playing point guard:
Head coach Stan Van Gundy split the Magic into two teams for three quarters of a scrimmage and Lee, mostly a shooting guard in college, saw extensive minutes at point guard. The Magic feel that with Hedo Turkoglu being able to handle the ball and initiate the offense at times that the 6-foot-5 Lee can give opposing point guards trouble with his length.
Ideally, if everyone's healthy, Anthony Johnson would play the majority of backup point guard minutes, which would leave Lee to play his natural position. But in a pinch, Lee could fill-in nicely, and could mitigate the losses of Carlos Arroyo and Keyon Dooling. I'm glad to see the Magic may have found a combo guard in Lee, although I'll reserve officially designating him as such until I see him in action.
Here's the obligatory "Dwight Howard plans to expand his offensive game" piece:
Howard worked hard this summer - first at the Olympics with Chris Bosh and Carlos Boozer and later in Orlando with assistant coach Patrick Ewing - on adding a turn-around jumper and a short, faceup shot to his offensive repertoire.
And Howard wasted little time showing off his offseason work, hitting a couple of midrange shots in Tuesday's first practice to the surprise of his teammates and coaches.
I hate to sound cynical, but we heard the same thing last year, too. And Dwight even uncorked a jumper in the first preseason game, prompting me to write "I have a feeling we're going to see a lot more of these shots [jumpers] this season." Of course, Dwight went on to make me look a fool: 82games tells us only 16% of his shots were jumpers, and he connected on only 24.8% of them.
The question becomes the following: do we even want Dwight to develop a consistent jumper? Speaking only for myself, I'd rather see him plant himself in the post and try to improve his footwork, then try to branch out a bit. Denton's report mentions Dwight nailed a foul-line jumper off a pick-and-roll in practice today. Cool. But when, in the regular season, I doubt Dwight will be in that position on the pick-and-roll. If the Magic want to run a pick-and-pop, they'll do it with one of their bevy of perimeter-oriented bigs. After Dwight sets a pick, I'd rather he motor to the basket and look for a lob, if it's there. Boom.
- Finally, Dwight's new signature shoe from adidas features a Superman logo. No photos yet -- none of the ones from Media Day are zoomed-in enough -- but I'm anxious to see them. Did D.C. Comics sign-off on the logo? Or is it an adidas-designed tribute to that famous shield?
Incidentally, today marks the one-year anniversary of 3QC joining SB Nation. Hooray!
That's all for today, I think. If you want a cool perspective on another team's training camp, check out Posting and Toasting, SB Nation's Knicks blog. The Knicks gave Seth access (!) to their camp at Skidmore College, and he's on top of things.