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Orlando Magic News for April 14th: Experts Chime In On Dwight Howard & Stan Van Gundy, All Eyes On The #6 Seed, and More

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  • Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus reveals his MVP ballot today.  

    Dwight Howard, 4th

    Howard's name has yet to come up much in this column, nor has he gotten much love in the MVP discussion. WARP suggests that in terms of value, Howard has been much closer to the top three candidates than to the rest of the pack. In terms of box-score stats, he has provided more value at the defensive end than any player in the league, which is part of why I made Howard my Defensive Player of the Year.

     

    Where Howard suffers in this breakdown is in terms of plus-minus stats. His net plus-minus (+8.9) is solid, but not spectacular. Howard's adjusted plus-minus is almost exactly average (+0.04). I suspect a lot of this is randomness. The standard error of Howard's adjusted plus-minus (6.1) is on the high side. If you break down the numbers, it appears what hurts Howard's rating is the fact that Orlando has played very well with neither Howard nor backup center Marcin Gortat on the court, outscoring teams by 6.9 points per 48 minutes in these situations, usually with Tony Battie in the middle and presumably mostly from early in the season when Gortat had yet to claim the backup job.

     

    Alas, we're talking about 341 minutes of basketball, and it's hard to draw meaningful conclusions from what amounts to seven games. In pr actice, this somehow plays out such that all three Magic centers are considered neutral or worse, while other players (mostly Rashard Lewis and Jameer Nelson) get credit for the team's strong play.

     

    This is one of those situations where I just don't feel adjusted plus-minus is a meaningful indicator. I'm much more inclined to trust the individual stats, which show Howard to belong right in the MVP debate.

  • Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie unveils his winner for Coach of the Year. 

    Stan Van Gundy, 1st

    The main reason is that he's as unrelenting as his he demands his team to be. Now, a lot of coaches demand that their players play the nearly perfect game. They browbeat and fume and jump on every possession and never let up. Those guys are usually burned out by the All-Star break, regardless of outcome, and the players eventually tune them out before long. The latter might eventually happen to SVG, we don't know, but we do know that he hasn't given up this year at all.

  • Yesterday in a FanShot, I linked to ESPN's choice for MVP. Today, the sports network's panel of analysts and writers lists their respective winners for each major NBA award, sans Executive of the Year. Here's how Superman & SVG faired in their respective ballots, Coach of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.

    Stan Van Gundy, 2nd

     

    Dwight Howard, 1st

  • Woody Wommack of Orlando Magic Daily offers his quick take on which team he's pulling for to get the #6 seed in the Eastern Conference.
    Now that we know it's down to the Bulls and Sixers, who would you rather see? I think I'm going to root pretty hard for the Bulls. Chicago has played well during the second half of the season, but the Bulls are poised for a one and done playoff series.

    The Sixers on the other hand have a veteran point guard in Andre Miller, and a proven closer in Andre Iguodala. Don't forget that Philly almost upset Detroit in last year's playoffs as well.
  • This isn't Magic news, per se, but it's relevant to Orlando. Boston's Ray Allen was suspended today after punching Cleveland's Anderson Varejao "in the groin" a few days ago during the Cavaliers' blowout victory over the Celtics. What ramifications does Allen's suspension have? Well, it means that the Philadelphia 76ers, who face the C's tonight, appear to have a fighting chance to win the game against their divisional rival. Which would mean the Sixers still have the opportunity to tie with the Chicago Bulls for the #6 seed. 
  • In a simple 'say what?' moment, here's Tim Legler of ESPN.com:
    The Bulls would rather play Orlando than Boston in the first round of the playoffs. You know you can run your offensive sets against the Magic and devise a game plan to play them. The No. 2 seed Celtics, meanwhile, can make a game ugly with their commitment to defense. Chicago has been as hot as anybody. It has a nice mix with veterans John Salmons and Brad Miller. Salmons is a guy who has great size for a swingman and can score over people.
    News flash, Orlando is tied for first in defensive efficiency. Doesn't that mean the Magic have a commitment to defense too? Ah, forget it. 
  • UPDATE: David Steele offers his personal anecdotes as the season winds down for Orlando. Some are funny and some are serious. Check it out:
    A few things we learned in New Jersey and Milwaukee:

    -Vince Carter still has plenty of game. Give him credit for playing out the season with gusto, despite his team’s overall disappointment.

    -Adonal Foyle still has a few gallons in the tank. His performance in Milwaukee was inspired and inspiring. One rebound shy of his first double/double since December of 2005.

    -There is no such thing as spring up north. It may arrive sometime in the future, but not yet. Magic fans in central Florida, you are spoiled. Of course, they get us back in July when we’re collecting sweat in buckets.

    -We got a chance to see where we might be without Howard, Lewis and Turkoglu. It isn’t pretty. Funny how the game changes when your three best players are out of the lineup. Here’s to a healthy postseason.
  • Yesterday, Steve Aschburner of Sports Illustrated listed some dream matchups he would like to see in the Playoffs. Here's one for Magic fans:
    Both of these teams still have much to prove. Orlando, despite pushing 60 victories, still is way too reliant on three-point shooting to strike a lot of playoff fear into opponents' hearts. Denver, despite its lofty perch behind only the Lakers, needs to get out of the first round for once to be taken seriously. These two might as well duke it out for first claim of legitimacy.
  • Don't forget to cast your ballot in 3QC's End-Season Awards. The voting ends Friday at midnight, so make sure your voice is heard. Thanks!