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Orlando Magic News for February 23rd: Vince Carter Does the Near Impossible; A Look Back at Penny

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  • Video: Vince Carter hits 85-foot shot sitting down
    J.E. Skeets of Ball Don't Lie provides video of Vince Carter's incredible feat, where he hits - roughly - an 85-foot shot sitting down at today's practice.

  • Player Audit: How Good Was Penny?
    Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference looks back and wonders how good was Anfernee 'Penny' Hardaway before injuries derailed his career.

    So, to return to the question of "How good was Penny?", the answer is either going to be "really good for a brief period of time, followed by a decade of injury-plagued mediocrity," or "we can't answer that question because we'll never know exactly how good he would have been without the injuries". If health is a skill, then Hardaway lost it forever in mid-November of 1996, when an inflamed left hamstring caused him to sit a game against the Raptors -- from there, it was the knee tendonitis, leading to the torn cartilage, leading to the calf strain, leading to the plantar fasciitis... etc. If health is a skill, Hardaway probably wasn't very good. But if you believe that the first injury that starts the snowball down the mountain is largely bad luck, then Hardaway was a legitimately great player, if only for an instant. Remember, in the Summer of '96 he was the young star of Dream Team III at the Atlanta Olympics, his Chris Rock-voiced alter ego was more popular than both the MVPuppets combined, and he was poised as the most likely player to take the torch from Jordan when the GOAT retired. Hardaway may not have delivered on that promise, but it's important to note that the promise was there, and it was legit, once upon a time.

More after the jump.

  • Top 5 Franchise Players to Build Your NBA Team
    Patrick Cassidy of Dime Magazine lists the top five franchise players to build an NBA team and for whatever reason, Howard is not listed. Curious.

  • Five best in-game dunkers in the NBA
    Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk states, in his opinion, the five best in-game dunkers in the league. Although Howard is not listed, he is given honorable mention.

  • Study: Good players aren't afraid to touch teammates
    UPDATE: Henry Abbott of TrueHoop notes an interesting study.

    Players patting each other on the butt may be funny. But what's not funny is winning games, and the evidence suggests that teammates who touch each other liberally on the court -- high-fives, fist-bumps, hugs, pats and the like -- tend to do that better than players who don't. [...]

    The researchers say they have not yet been able to prove any kind of cause-and-effect -- does the hugging and touching cause the wins?

    It's a powerful form of communication that may do a lot to uplift and inspire teammates.
    Here's a fun homework assignment: next time you watch the Orlando Magic play, which will be tomorrow against the Houston Rockets, analyze the interaction between the players.
  • Magic Offer Mixed Thoughts on 'Z' Possibly Returning to Cavs
    UPDATE 2: Head coach Stan Van Gundy provides his thoughts on the MVP race in the NBA.

    The Orlando Magic, who would be most affected by next month's anticipated return to Cleveland of center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, gave mixed reviews on the subject Tuesday. [...]

    Of bigger concern to the Magic is LeBron James, who is playing so well now that a day after the Magic started promoting Howard for the NBA Most Valuable Player Award, Van Gundy conceded that race to the Cleveland star.

    "LeBron is going to get the award. You can talk about everything else if you want -- and there are a lot of good candidates for it -- but it's over,'' Van Gundy said. "It's not going to be a close vote. All the players and coaches in the league know who is going to get the MVP.''