Orlando Magic's Strong Preseason Performance Linked to Outstanding Play from Five Likely Starters

One of the reasons the Orlando Magic picked up Quentin Richardson this summer is his experience; he's a 10-year veteran used to filling a specific need for three-point shooting, particularly from the wings, as well as his competitive fire on the defensive end. And while it's hard to glean too much from the preseason data, they indeed indicate the Magic aren't missing many beats with Richardson filling the small forward role Matt Barnes did last season.

The probable opening-night starting unit for Orlando, which includes Richardson and Rashard Lewis at the forwards, Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter at the guards, and Dwight Howard at center, has simply laid waste to teams so far in the preseason. Check out these numbers:

Opponent Mins Offense Defense Diff.
Pts Poss. Rating Pts Poss. Rating
Houston 9:08 23 19 121.1 19 19 100.0 21.1
New Orleans 6:05 14 12 116.7 8 12 66.7 50.0
Atlanta 12:10 27 22 122.7 11 21 52.4 70.3
Dallas 12:06 27 23 117.4 12 23 52.2 65.2
TOTAL 39:29 91 76 119.7 50 75 66.7 53.0

Clearly, it'd be unfair to Richardson's teammates to give all the credit to him for the starting unit's dominance in the 7-0 preseason. But the strong start has allayed any concerns that he'd rock the boat, so to speak. Based on these returns, it's hard to argue any other five-man group should get the nod on opening night. Mickael Pietrus, Richardson's backup, has yet to play with this foursome yet this preseason, which should give some indication as to what his chances of starting come next Thursday are.

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