Here are today's Orlando Magic links. Please stay tuned to 3QC at 2 PM for a mini-announcement from Eddy.
2009-10 NBA Win Over/Under Predictions
The authors of TrueHoop Network's excellent The Painted Area blog set over/under figures for win totals each of the league's 30 teams, and strongly advises taking the over on the Magic at 57.5 wins. An excerpt of their justification:
We love this team to pile up regular-season wins because they have so much depth - they can withstand injuries as well as play big or small as needed. We also think that Stan Van Gundy is one of the best coaches in the league. We thought he deserved Coach of the Year honors for turning last year's unit into the most efficient defensive team in the league. We see a 60+ win team here.
Stan Van Gundy wants stability in his starting lineup, despite all the options
Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel is in Chicago to cover the Magic's preseason matchup with the Chicago Bulls tonight. This morning, she filed this report about the possibility of Gundy's changing the starting lineup on a game-to-game basis, depending upon the opponent.
Stan Van Gundy's reply was quick and simple when I asked if he might change starting lineups nightly to accomodate different opponents' playing styles.
"You wouldn’t like to," Van Gundy said. "I think we can switch up rotations based on situations. You would at least like to get to the point where you’re starting the same five guys pretty much every night."
It's hard to fault Stan here. The last elite team to operate in such a way, that I can remember, was the 2007 Dallas Mavericks, who famously removed the sluggish center Erick Dampier from the starting lineup in the playoffs against the madcap Golden State Warriors, the 8th-seeded team that went on to upset the top-seeded Mavs in that series. Adjust the rotation? Sure. Adjust the stating five? Not so much, no.
Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus establishes criteria for an NBA "prospect"--someone with fewer than 3 years' experience, not a former lottery pick, and who averaged fewer than 20 minutes per game last season--and then ranks the top 10. Marcin Gortat, the Magic's backup center, places second.
Last April, Gortat would have been a perfect candidate for the top spot on this list. Over the next two months, the secret got out because of how well Gortat played when Dwight Howard suffered foul trouble during the postseason. Believe it or not, the Magic actually played substantially better with Gortat at center during its playoff run. That's not sustainable (and wasn't the case during the regular season), but Gortat's skills are legitimate. Alas, after Orlando matched Dallas' offer to Gortat, a restricted free agent, it will take a trade before we get a chance to see what he can do in a larger role.
Orlando Magic Season Preview: The Guards
Howard The Dunk previews the Magic's season by reviewing their guards.
It’s only pre-season I tell myself
Finally, scroll to the 9th paragraph of this story (8th if you don't count the long quote) for Raptors Republic's take on former Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu's play so far in the preseason. The Raps have stumbled out of the gate to a 2-5 start, but Turk's been a rare bright spot, it seems.
Your Obligatory Preseason Data DumpUPDATE (from Eddy): Neil Paine of Basketball-References shares advanced numbers for the pre-season games, so far. To which I say, finally!
As Ben mentioned earlier today, we have to take these stats with a grain of salt but it doesn't hurt looking at them to get an idea of how the Orlando Magic are performing on the court in exhibition play. Some random musings - the Magic rank 1st in offensive efficiency and 5th in defensive efficiency.
Scouts like Lakers, Cavaliers, Celtics in 2009-2010 seasonUPDATE 3 (from Eddy): Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated polls a half-dozen NBA advance and personnel scouts to gather their thoughts on how the 2009-2010 season may pan out. If you haven't noticed already, there's a schism with regards to the perception of how good people think Orlando is - general managers and scouts think the Magic are a step behind of the competition, APBRmetricians think the Magic are a step ahead of the competition.
The East promises to be the more entertaining conference, beginning with the fight between Boston and Cleveland for the top seed. The Cavaliers receive four votes to finish No. 1, but two other scouts -- anticipating that Shaquille O'Neal will have a negative impact -- pick them No. 3 or No. 4 in the conference.
Despite reaching the NBA Finals last season, the Magic receive no first-place votes and are viewed as the consensus No. 3 team.