Highlights from the Orlando Magic's preseason game against the Miami Heat last night.
Video via NBA.com
It's always perilous to read too deeply into the results of exhibition games, but if the Orlando Magic's first two preseason contests are any indication, their embarrassment of riches at power forward may spell the end of Rashard Lewis' time there. Matt Moore (of Hardwood Paroxysm) and I had a nice little back-and-forth on this subject via Twitter last night, and it's gaining some traction today.
Here's Orlando Magic Daily's take on Brandon Bass, who posted 11 points, 3 rebounds, and 1 blocked shot on 4-of-6 shooting in last night's victory:
So, uh, Brandon Bass is pretty good. I think that’s pretty clear to any and all Magic fans in attendance Wednesday night. He hit several mid-range jump shots — a huge asset in somebody as strong down low as Bass is — in addition to being active on the boards and the defensive interior. Most people aren’t expecting Bass to start once Rashard Lewis returns from suspension, but it’s going to be really hard to keep this guy off the floor.
Meanwhile, Ryan Anderson's strong showing in his Magic debut--he lead the team in scoring, with 16 points on 4-of-8 shooting off the bench--earned him some attention in the media today:
Dan Savage of OrlandoMagic.com wrote this piece on Anderson after last night's game.
But if he continues to play to his potential, he will quickly become more than a footnote on a deal that brought an eight-time All-Star to his home state.
Anderson already started to get the Amway Arena crowd chanting his name as he posted a team-high 16 points off the bench in the Magic’s 90-86 victory over the Miami Heat on Wednesday.
Chanting his name in his Magic debut? I don't even think Grant Hill, the last player to wear no. 33 for Orlando, earned that treatment. Wow.
Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld also focused on Anderson in his post-game report, passing along this essential information:
Not only does he jell well with the team's style, he's also a fit in the Magic locker room. Mocking the Snickers' commercial starring Orlando's assistant coach Patrick Ewing, Anderson's teammates are constantly greeting the forward with the phrase, "What's up, Ryan?"
Anderson's breakout game was timely, given Professor David Berri's recent post about the Magic. He believes they're a contending team as-is, but that playing Rashard Lewis more often at small forward--and thus giving more time to Anderson and Bass at power forward--will make them even more dangerous:
Once upon a time, Lewis was an above average small forward. In 2006-07 Lewis posted a 0.175 WP48 while mostly playing small forward with the Seattle Supersonics.
If we shift our focus to Win Score, we see that Lewis has been very consistent across his career. During his time with Seattle, Lewis posted a 9.8 Win Score per 48 minutes (WS48). His first season in Orlando – where he primarily played power forward – Lewis posted a 9.6 WS48. And last year his mark was 9.8. Such numbers are quite good for a small forward. But as a power forward, Lewis is about average.
More news and notes after the jump.
OMD also talked to three of the Magic's newcomers about the Magic's underdog label. Here's what Matt Barnes had to say on the subject:
It doesn’t surprise me. They kind of go with the popular teams all the time. They go with Boston and the Lakers, Boston and Cleveland, something like that. It doesn’t bother me. It basically makes you want to work more. Everybody’s going to work hard to prove everyone wrong. I felt that coming here, with the high character guys they have here and the work they did last year, and the system they run, this was the best opportunity for me to flourish as a player and win a championship.
That last bit, about the best chance to win a championship, really stood out to me. As he said during his introductory media availability session, Barnes had an opportunity to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers, one of the several teams expected to fare better than the Magic this season.
On a completely different subject, Jon Nichols continues his TPS ("Talent Plus Style") analysis of several players by ranking the league's best and worst "workhorses", "defenders/outside shooters", and "interior defenders." The Magic have standouts in every category. Of note to me was Dwight Howard's ranking 8th in the "workhorse" category, which accounts for, in Nichols' words:
PER, Usage Rate, and Assisted Rate (the percentage of a player’s shots that were assisted). It is a player rating system that focuses especially on a player’s ability to generate his own offense without the help of others.
I'm not sure if Howard should rate so highly, because (based only on my estimation) many of his unassisted scores are the result of an offensive rebound of a teammate's missed shot. Thus, I'm dubious about TPS' rating him as an elite-level shot-creator. I don't mean to indict Nichols' work, which I admire, but it might overestimate Howard's skills to some degree.
Meanwhile, in New Jersey, a debate rages as to whether former Magic guard Courtney Lee should get the nod at shooting guard ahead of fellow second-year man Chris Douglas-Roberts. Were it up to me, I'd let the two players slug it out in the preseason. Although Lee has proven more at the NBA level than Douglas-Roberts has, it seems to me that Douglas-Roberts has the higher NBA ceiling, and should be given an opportunity to supplant Lee.