ESPN's NBA Future Power Rankings: Teams 1 to 5
Chad Ford and John Hollinger collaborated on the latest update to ESPN Insider's Future Power Rankings, "a convenient way to see in what direction your favorite team is headed." Orlando, which placed first in the previous update, dropped to third this time due to concerns about highly paid players underachieving. However, the Magic's future is bright, with the third-best market, the 8th-best management team, and the very best players.
With a building block center in Dwight Howard who is a virtual certainty to stay with his team (as opposed to the uncertainty surrounding some of the game's other top stars at the moment), the Magic have the foundation of a great team. And while Howard's expensive supporting cast isn't fully earning its pay, there's no doubt that impressive talent surrounds him.
Why has Jameer Nelson been better after the All-Star break?
Tania Ganguli explains why and how Jameer Nelson has improved lately (brackets hers):
"My confidence level is really high right now because I am healthy," Nelson said. "I’m I feeling a lot better physically. Not just the knee my whole body. I’m doing things in the gym I couldn’t [before]. I couldn’t lift weights the way I wanted to so it was just kind of hard."
Since the All-Star break, Nelson's averaged 16.9 points and 7.7 assists on 63.7% True Shooting.
The Change Game: Finding Appropriate Jersey Numbers for the NBA Stars
Eric Freeman suggest Dwight Howard change his uniform number from 12 to 32 in order to further irritate Cleveland's Shaquille O'Neal, who wore that number during his 4 years in Orlando and insists that Howard is just stealing his material.
NBA Power Rankings: Where We Show Every Team Some Love
Nelson isn't the only Magic player getting noticed for the good work he does. Mike Prada lists Matt Barnes as Orlando's "good thing going." Here's why:
Unlike [Mickael] Pietrus, Barnes can be counted on to play hard, make great cuts and play great defense every night instead of just on some nights. He shoots the three well, but he isn't just a three-point shooter. I'd tell you more about what he does, but I think that stat kind of says it all.
Phenomenal Swag: Ed Hardy's Dwight Howard tees
Trey Kirby takes a look at the new Ed Hardy t-shirts that Howard, now a Hardy endorser, inspired. He's not thrilled with them, rating the collection one Muggsey Bogues out of five, and even then "only because the scale is from one to five."
2010 Projected Cap Space
UPDATE (from Eddy): Joe Treutlein of Hoopdata thinks the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team that could potentially clear enough cap space to offer a max contract to a free agent in the off-season, might be wise to do business with the Magic. Here's why:
One team who would seem like an ideal trading partner is the Orlando Magic, who just so happen to have a 6.8million trade exception that doesn't expire until mid July. A draft night deal of [Nick] Collison or [Nenad] Krstic + the Thunders' two first round picks to Orlando for their trade exception would put the Thunder in range to sign a max player while also doing Orlando the service of likely attracting one of [Chris] Bosh, Lebron [James], or [Dwyane] Wade out of the Eastern Conference, securing their long-term place among the top of the East. This would put Orlando even deeper into the luxury tax than they already are, but they could then shop [Marcin] Gortat or [Brandon] Bass to another team under the cap to make up that money.
Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy acts as travel agent as he advises the NBA schedule-makers on behalf of his team.
UPDATE 2 (from Eddy): Head coach Stan Van Gundy states his opinion on the NBA schedule.
Orlando Magic GM Otis Smith still lives to ride his motorcycle, despite friend’s death
UPDATE 3 (from Eddy): George Diaz comments on Otis Smith and motorcycles.