I’ve never posted on any type of sports blog before, but I thought I would share my thoughts about the Magic and their roster prior to the February 15th trade deadline. I have been a devout Magic fan since Day 1 (I was at the O-rena for our first regular season tilt), but I must say I had my reservations and concerns heading into this season about the team. I should clarify that I fully supported Dwight Howard and his preference to play elsewhere, and I appreciate everything he did for my beloved organization. I also think Rob Hennigan handled the process in a commendable way. Our package we received was fair and consistent with the message of rebuilding through the draft. That being said, I wasn’t sure how competitive this roster would be in 2012-13 stacked up against the rest of the league. Coach Vaughn has been nothing short of outstanding. His leadership qualities shine through his calm demeanor, and he has been a positive influence for both the rookies and the veterans. This team has battled through adversity, kept the score close in most games, and has even scored a couple victories against premiere teams along the way. The development of Nikola Vucevic has been particularly astonishing.
I just wanted to share a few thoughts about the make-up of the roster…
1) SG - Afflalo/Redick Debate
Arron Afflalo was a solid piece to receive in the Dwight deal. He brings toughness and an ability to get to the basket. Because of his advanced age (27), Afflalo’s ceiling may not get any higher than it currently is, but he is still showing an ability with increased minutes to be a more than adequate pro. J.J. Redick is having a career year, and is arguably the face of the franchise this season. When you think about how limited Redick’s game was as a rookie and how hard his minutes were to come by early on in his career, you have to respect the man for improving his strength, toughness, and overall game. He is not only a premiere shooter, but now a formidable facilitator.
I have noticed how Coach Vaughn has played Afflalo and Redick together for most of the year, and has even gone as far lately as to start both players. I obviously realize this is to maximize production, but I believe Afflalo’s value is lost when he plays Small Forward. At 6’6, Arron can use his strength and size to play physical with smaller guards, get to the rim, and operate in the post. Against lengthier forwards, Afflalo struggles on offense, gets physically worn down on defense, and is often undersized. Simply put, there are not enough minutes at the SG position for both Redick and Afflalo to operate effectively in the future.
2) The Rookies
I would love to see both Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson get more minutes. I assume this will happen as the season goes on and the focus shifts to next season. With continued development throughout this season, Harkless and Nicholson (at worst) can be valuable contributors off the bench in 2013-14 earning consistent and quality minutes.
3) Glen Davis
Everything I enjoy about Glen's game (his energy, spark, and presence) is best utilized coming off the bench. As he became more comfortable with the Magic last season, I really felt Davis thrived in his role backing up both Ryan Anderson and Dwight Howard. Some players are just meant to be 20-28 minute rotation players, and I feel Big Baby is one of them. That is no “knock” at all to his game; I just feel he gets less effective the more minutes he plays. As he fatigues, he often times loses his footing in the post and settles for shots outside his range. He can fill in either post spot and be productive for a short time period (like he did for Dwight in the playoffs against Indiana); I just don’t think he’s the answer as THE starting PF. Not in today’s NBA, where power forwards play above the rim as well as 20-25 feet away from the basket.
All in all, I am really excited about the direction and future of the Orlando Magic. Here’s to hoping we acquire assets at the deadline that best help develop this young roster. I would love to hear feedback regarding my thoughts Magic fans!