I keep seeing comments and trade ideas flying around in the comments, and I felt maybe it would be easier for everyone if they had some hard data about the other players in the NBA to chose from.
Ok...I'm basing the information provided on a couple of assumptions. If you don't agree, I welcome you to look up the data you feel is important and post it in the comments.
1) Starters matter more than reserves. While I agree that a reserve center would help the Magic, the starters are simply on the floor longer and simply matter more when it comes to winning games, playoff series, and championships. I feel that the Magic need to address issues in their starting lineup before focusing energy and trade chips on the reserve unit.
2) The Magic starting front court is fine. Howard & Anderson, arguably the best front line in the NBA right now. Need I say more?
3) If the back court is where the issue is, the LEAST amount of problems are coming from the SG spot. While Jason Richardson isn't setting the world ablaze and has been a little streaky, he's not been terrible and having a starter-level reserve in JJ (who actually is higher on the PER list for SGs who play 25+ per game) means that you can take the two of them in tandem. Overall the 2 spot isn't what's costing the Magic games.
4) If it's not the 2 spot...then the biggest issues are clearly from the play of Nelson and Hedo. Both players, when playing to their potential, are great players. When both of them are "on", the Magic can beat any team in the league on any night of the week. But it's rare, rare, RARE for both of them to show up like that. Both players' average playing level is well below what's needed for the Magic to be contenders, and they fluctuate between "really good" and "terrible" way too often to provide the stability needed to win a title.
Based on that line of thinking, it's my opinion that the Magic should focus their energy to upgrading either the PG or the SF spots. This is why I gathered the data I'm posting here.
At this point I'll direct you to some previous posts that you should read before you propose any trades to upgrade the starting PG or SF spots. You should have at least a basic understanding of what players on the Magic are worth on the trade block, what the Magic Org's financial position down the line may be, and what tricks the Magic may be able to employ to help their Salary Cap situation. Evan has done great work to recap everything for us, so you owe it to yourself (and to those of us who have to deal with all the "Nelson for CP3!" trade nonsense) to know what you're talking about.
Now that you've read all of that, I present to you all some HoopData sheets.
First up is a rundown of all Small-Forwards in the NBA who average more than 25 minutes a game, ranked by PER. Included data for every player includes their team, age, salary for NEXT season (players with an asterisks are FA at the end of the season, and thus this season's salary is used), minutes per game, usage rate, True Shooting percentage, 3-pointer percentage, % of FGs assisted, Assist Rate, Turnover Rate, Offensive Rebounding Rate, Defensive Rebounding Rate, TOTAL Rebounding Rate, and PER.
Next up is all the NBA PG's who average more than 25 minutes per game, ranked by PER. I've removed the breakdown of Offensive/Defensive Rebounding rates, but kept the TOTAL Rebounding rate. Most PGs have negligible ORRs, so I chose legibility since the list of PGs is longer than that of SFs. All the rest of the categories are the same.
So there you have it. I'd love to have some serious conversations about who the Magic could and should go after in the next year or so to make the team better. In that spirit, keep in mind that it's incredibly unlikely that the Magic can land the likes of D-Will or CP3, and obviously franchise players like LeBron or Durant simply isn't going to happen.
Me, personally? Given how low Nelson and Hedo are on this list...I feel that if the Magic could land a pair of players simply overall "solidly" better and known as more consistent, that could be enough to get them over the hump. That's my thoughts, you can obviously propose anything you'd like. I'm taking a break now, but I hope to drop back by later or tomorrow to list some trade ideas I have and players I'd like to see the Magic go after if possible.
Have at it, folks.
[Final note: I still think if the Magic get "hot" in the playoffs and play consistently at their potential, the team as it stands could make a serious run at the title. The Magic are built to beat the Heat and Chicago when they are moving the ball, hitting shots, and Howard owns the paint. It's not what I'd call likely, but I still have hopes for this team this year. A post like this is for fun and discussion, not to indicate I've given up on the current roster.]