The top 10 NBA coaches of the last decade
In his latest Top-10 list, Kelly Dwyer tackles the subject of coaching, and attempts to rank the ten best coaches of the decade. The Orlando Magic's own Stan Van Gundy rates 4th, behind only three surefire Hall-of-Famers (in descending order: Hubie Brown of the Memphis Grizzlies, Phil Jackson of the Los Angeles Lakers, and Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs). Dwyer explains:
It may seem like SVG has a slim resume working for him, but I don't know if there is any other coach working today that has as sound a take on how the modern pro game works as much as Van Gundy.
The results speak for themselves. The Magic have been working to the absolute peak of their potential since he took over. That's gotta be coaching. Every year, he makes the best-case scenario come true.
That's a ringing endorsement from a knowledgeable NBA scribe, and I would hope some NBA observers would take it into consideration when, say, upbraiding Van Gundy for publicly calling out Vince Carter in the media for his poor defense. Dispute his methods if you like, but don't dispute the results.
Hollinger Profiles: Orlando Magic
Stats guru John Hollinger, whose work Van Gundy reads with great interest, published his annual Player Efficiency Rating projections today. The link above will take you just to the Magic's page of predictions, but you can also view the league at large, or position-by-position. Of note:
Dwight Howard is first among centers and 4th overall, sandwiched between LeBron James and Kevin Durant in the latter list.
Jameer Nelson (9th among point guards) and Vince Carter (8th among shooting guards) were the other Magic players to rate in the top 10 of their respective positions.
Here's what surprised me most: Rashard Lewis ranked 32nd among power forwards. Indeed, both Brandon Bass (20th) and Ryan Anderson (26th) project to have more efficient seasons than Lewis at that position. Because I'm not an Insider subscriber, I can't read Hollinger's entire take on Lewis, so I can't explain why he figures to have a below-average PER. Age and three-point shooting, I imagine. But wow.
On the plus side, Marcin Gortat gets his due, ranking as the 14th-best center in the league, directly behind Emeka Okafor and directly ahead of Roy Hibbert.
SLAM ONLINE | 30 Teams-30 Days
But if you thought Hollinger's sour outlook regarding Lewis was surprising, well, you haven't seen anything yet. Konate Primus of SLAM Online forecasts a 53-29 finish for the Magic and a second-round playoff exit at the Cleveland Cavaliers' hands this year. Why? Here's Primus:
People are expecting the Magic to come out blazing like mad men but I don’t believe this will happen for one reason. And his name is Vince Carter!
Vince is no wash-up please, believe that, but he is a lazzzzy bum when he feels like it’s not necessary to play. I don’t think he’s the right fit for this team. Sure his skill level is still up to par, but the chemistry level doesn’t sit right in my stomach. I think Hedo [Turkoglu] was taken for granted — there wasn’t another player last year to put in work like Hedo (maybe Kobe [Bryant]). You can’t replace clutch and that’s what Hedo brought! Vince, on the other hand, may be a better player overall, but not as clutch.
I don't take issue with people doubting Vince's fit on the team; it's indeed valid to acknowledge that Turkoglu's size (6'10") and inbounding skill (I'm not being facetious) really helped the Magic in the last two seasons, and that the 6'07" Carter might not be as good an inbound passer. But to suggest that Hedo was more clutch than Vince simply isn't valid. With a quick internet search, we can easily access these clutch statistics from 82games.com: last year, Hedo averaged 26.7 points per 48 minutes of clutch play, shooting 35.7% from the field overall and 20.0% from three-point range during that time. Carter's averages in clutch situations? 34.3 points per 48 minutes (18th-best in the league), 50% from the field, and 50% on three-pointers.
Now I know that Hedo made some brilliant plays in the playoffs, including his game-winning three-pointer in Game 4 against Philadelphia and his game-saving rejection of Bryant in Game 2 of the NBA Finals. And all these heroics took place while Vince's season was over, as he has not appeared in the playoffs since the 2006/2007 season. Blame the recency effect. Vince has proven, time and again, to be a more capable clutch performer than Turkoglu. Let us not allow Turk's many nationally televised appearances cloud our judgment.
Dwight Howard's Florida house for sale, $2.95 millionUPDATE: (from Eddy) J.E. Skeets of Ball Don't Lie shares some news which involve Dwight Howard - he's selling his house in Windemere.
Orlando Magic man Dwight Howard is selling his 7,796 square foot, four-bedroom, five-point-five-bathroom home in Windermere, Florida for just $2,950,000 Americano dollars. Score!
Yes, you read that correctly. Up until not too long ago, the All-Star center was living in a very reasonably sized residence — under 8,000 square feet. I don't know about you, but I thought Dwight's massive 6'11" frame actually took up some 8,000 square feet of real estate, so this news comes as a bit of a surprise.
UPDATE 2: (from Eddy) More news about Superman; he appears on the cover for Sports Illustrated Kids and talks about being on the cover of NBA Live 10.
Photo is courtesy of Sports Illustrated.
That's all on the general news front. We'll be back at 6 PM with a GameThread for tonight's exhibition contest between the Magic and the Dallas Mavericks.