It's tough to really complain about anything that's happening in a city home to Disney World, because at this point, Orlando fans are enjoying what's been a magical ride so far this season.
So what's harder to believe?
The fact the Magic are 33-8, or the fact that the team can still get better?
It's improbable to think that an Orlando squad, after making heads turn by defeating each of the divisional leaders in the Western Conference on its recent road trip, can still improve. But it's true.
As great as Orlando has been this year, there is a chink in the armor that needs to be fixed by general manager Otis Smith. And no, that chink is NOT the lack of depth at the big man positions. The lone hole on the team is at a position many Magic fans have been accustomed to hearing/reading/seeing being preached as a weakness for the past few years. It's the point guard spot (surprise!). However, this time good ol' Jameer Nelson isn't the problem. So who's the culprit?
'No Neck' Johnson. Or simply Anthony Johnson, for short.
To the casual observer, one wouldn't think Johnson would be a black hole of sorts for a team. Johnson has always been known to be a solid back-up/fill-in starter for a respective squad. Until this year.
Unfortunately for the Magic, Johnson has been nothing as advertised when he signed with the team during the off-season.
"Anthony addresses our need for depth at the point guard position," said Smith. "He is a veteran leader who has played in the NBA Finals. We are happy to add Anthony to the Magic family."
Too bad Smith didn't get the memo that Johnson hasn't fixed the problem.
How bad has Johnson been?
Click after the jump to see the results.
Minutes Per Game
8.8 (2nd worst on team)
100 (4th worst on team)
104 (3rd worst on team)
1.1 (t-5th worst on team)
Pretty bad, I know. It comes to no surprise, then, that opponents lick their chops when Johnson enters the game for Nelson, given the statistics shown above. Johnson makes life easier for an opposing team because a.) he presents no credible threat on offense and b.) he presents less resistance on defense.
Why has Nelson been so bad this season? Might just have to blame it on old age (Johnson is 34) & declining skills.
With all that said, isn't there another player out there that Orlando could pursue via trade to help shore up the team's back-up point guard position?
Definitely. His name? C.J. Watson.
Magic fans may not be familiar with this player, but that's to be expected. Watson isn't exactly a household name, yet.
A quick bio on Watson is that he is a 24 year old back-up point guard for the Golden State Warriors. However, given the fact Warriors head coach Don Nelson has a 7-8 man rotation most nights, Watson gets a starter-like minutes anyway as a reserve (for the year, Watson is averaging roughly 27 minutes a night).
Plus, Watson has a cap-friendly contract (getting paid only $711,517 this year).
Watson's skill-set is solid. Watson more of a shoot-first point guard than a pass-first point guard, but he's a point guard nonetheless. Think 'in-his-prime' Kings point guard Bobby Jackson, and you basically have the gist of the type of player Watson is.
Statistically, Watson is having a solid year for the Warriors.
Minutes Per Game
One may notice that Watson's Defensive Rating is a bit high, but this statistic is skewed for two reasons. First, Nelson-coached teams play absolutely no defense (Warriors are 30th in defensive efficiency this year). Second, Nelson-coached teams play at an extremely high pace (Warriors are 1st in Pace this year).
So what would happen if Watson were to play on the Magic? Would he be as much of a defensive liability with Orlando as he is with Golden State? Maybe, but most likely not. Given the fact Orlando head coach Stan Van Gundy does an excellent job of teaching team defense, it's fair to say Watson would benefit playing in a stifling defensive scheme. Having Dwight Howard clean up the mess helps too in case Watson blows an assignment.
The fact that C.J. Watson would be able to bring an added dimension offensively off the bench (on the cheap, too), as opposed to Anthony Johnson, makes him a desirable candidate for general manager Otis Smith to possibly pursue.
So for a quick FAQ.
What type of trading chips do the Magic have currently?
2009 1st Rd. pick
2009 2nd Rd. pick*
SG Keith Bogans ($2,911,600)
SG J.J. Redick ($2,139,720)
PF Brian Cook ($3,500,000)
What would it take to acquire Watson?
Tough call. Nelson loves to play small and space the floor with shooters, so certainly expendable players like Bogans, Redick, and Cook fit the profile. However, in the case of Cook, his conditioning would need to improve so that he could survive playing on an uptempo team.
Other than that, the PLUS factor in this scenario is Watson's contract ($711,517). It's cheap and makes a trade easy to accomplish.
Finally, Golden State's payroll is roughly $66.5 million (luxury tax this year is $71.15 million) so since the Warriors are over the cap ($58.68 million) but under the luxury tax, both teams would have to make salaries almost match for a trade to be possible.
With all that said, imagine you're the general manager for the Magic. What trade offer would you make to the Warriors for C.J. Watson? If you'd like, explain your rationale in the comments section.
*as it stands, it's quickly becoming apparent Orlando will NOT have this pick available for trade. Click here to get the run-down on why.