Dwight Howard and Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh work together to plant a peach tree in South Africa.
Photo by NBA Photos, courtesy of the Orlando Magic
The Magic have announced that preseason tickets will go on sale this Saturday, September 12th, at 10 AM. We posted the schedule here a few weeks ago.
As depicted in the photo at the top of this post, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard has spent part of his summer in Africa in the NBA's Basketball Without Borders program. From a press release:
In addition to basketball instruction, NBA players and coaches partnered with local community groups to lead daily life-skills seminars that promoted leadership, character development, health and wellness throughout the four-day event. In addition, through NBA Cares, the league’s social responsibility initiative, NBA players and coaches participated in extensive community outreach programs with local non-profit organizations including the creation of places for children and families to live learn or play. Since 2005, NBA Cares has created more than 400 live, learn or play centers around the world.
For more about this program and Dwight's involvement in it, check his Twitter page, where he's posted links to photos and videos of his trip. Mike Born, the Portland Trail Blazers' Director of Scouting, is also on this trip. He's written a series of posts about it for Blazersedge, the first of which you can find here.
Howard isn't the only Magic center busy this summer. Marcin Gortat's hard at work with the Polish national team at Eurobasket 2009. Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel is keeping a close eye on Gortat's progress, and reports that he tallied 15 points and 17 rebounds in Poland's 86-75 victory over Lithuania today. Poland is 2-0 in the tournament.
In this post, Ryan Desmarais of SLAM wonders if the Magic erred in their decision to effectively replace Hedo Turkoglu with Vince Carter this summer:
But is [Carter] what Orlando needed? Hedo is not as explosive as Carter, but his style of play meshed well with what the team needed. He is a very good ball handler and his point-forward abilities allowed him to be viewed as a distributor, which made defenders think twice about double-teaming him on the perimeter. In turn, he was able to get more open looks for both himself and his teammates.
ESPN concludes its sprawling--the network used a panel of 53 observers--series of NBA predictions with this look at who will hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy next June. To Magic fans' chagrin, Orlando received just 3 votes, and ranked well behind the other four contenders. 3QC user CaliFlorida excerpted a salient point from the predictions in the FanShots last night:
Take the league's best defense, subtract the overrated Hedo Turkoglu and add Vince Carter to a lineup that already had three All-Stars, and what do you have? A team that's ready to handle Boston (again) and Cleveland (again) and get past a somewhat aging Lakers team (to whom the Magic gave away two Finals games in June).
A final predictive post, this from Khandor's Sports Blog, which uses a numerical evaluation system to stratify the Eastern Conference. By this method, the Magic rank second in the East, behind Boston, and ahead of Atlanta. Interestingly, Cleveland placed 5th due to its poor second unit. There's plenty of noteworthy individual observations--Khandor rates Jameer Nelson behind Rodney Stuckey and Mo Williams; he also rates Brandon Bass and Marcin Gortat highly among backups at their respective positions--so be sure to check the post out, even if you take issue with his methodology.