Bradford Doolittle of Basketball Prospectus unveiled his new batch of power rankings for the week of February 9th. The top team remains the Cleveland Cavaliers, after which the teams that follow are the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, and then the Orlando Magic. Here's what Doolittle said concerning Dwight and Co.
If Orlando doesn't acquire a legitimate starting point guard in the absence of Jameer Nelson, the Magic is in trouble. Nelson's WP3K (14.8, 4th in the NBA) dwarfs that of his replacement, Anthony Johnson (6.9, 90th). The nearly eight-wins-per-3,000 minutes difference could cost Orlando as many as three or four wins over the course of the rest of the season, making the Magic's pursuit of Cleveland and Boston a futile effort. The idea of using Hedo Turkoglu as a point forward and starting a backcourt of Courtney Lee and Mickael Pietrus has merit, but that's not going to be the whole answer. Orlando is still going to need a penetrate-and-dish lead guard and Tyronn Lue is not the answer.
How good was Jameer Nelson playing before he went down with a potentially season-ending injury? Jon Nichols of Basketball-Statistics ranked 'Meer (95.05%) the third-best point guard (behind New Orleans Hornets' Chris Paul & Boston Celtics' Rajon Rondo) in the NBA based on his Composite Score Percentile.
Another surprise to most people, Nelson was having a superb year until he got injured recently. It would be fatal to Orlando’s championship aspirations if Nelson is not able to return this year. He took a big leap forward this season. Nelson possesses the deadly combination of quickness off the dribble and a great outside shot. Combine him with a dominant center like Dwight Howard and you can see why his numbers are so good.
- Don't expect general manager Otis Smith to make any additional moves at the trade deadline. In my interview with ESPN's & IMG Academy's David Thorpe, which will be revealed as a three-part series beginning on Thursday, Thorpe states that it's highly unlikely Smith pursues another piece via trade.
- In case you haven't a created a caption yet describing the exchange between Orlando's Hedo Turkoglu and NBA referee Tom Washington, do so here.
UPDATE - BQR here. A few more news items for you:
Tyronn Lue had his first practice with the Magic today and said he will need more time to adjust to Stan Van Gundy's defensive schemes; the offense, says Lue, "is pretty simple."
SLAM has a wicked cool/dramatic video of Dwight Howard putting on his All-Star jersey. It's part of an all-out marketing blitz for Dwight this All-Star Weekend. Apparently, he's going to start Tweeting on Friday. Cool.
Canis Hoopus has the latest blogger MVP/Rookie of the Year rankings. You can keep up with my voting history on this page.