This is the final installment of a little series where I try (emphasis on try) to analyze our competitors in the Southeast Division and take a look at what makes them dangerous in the coming season, and what helps us sleep easier at night. This is kind of like the community projections except that:
A) No predictions on records will be made.
B) This series will be conducted in bullet point form as opposed to paragraph form.
C) These only pertain to the Southeast Division.
D) These will generally be much more poorly written than the Community Projections.
But other than that, they're kind of the same...but not really. For the final installment, we take a look at last year's division champions, the Orlando Magic. If you're thinking "I bet Jake held off on this so he could avoid the scorn of Ben Q. Rock," you'd be right.
Why I'm scared:
Some people might be souring on Dwight Howard, but that's generally a sign that they've arrived as a star in the league. In other words, not good for us, not good for anyone else either. Well, besides Orlando.
If Tony Battie can return to form, after missing all of last season, he'll give the magic more frontcourt depth, which never hurts.
Dwight Howard won't have to deal with the distraction of preparing dunks for the Slam Dunk Contest this year. At least, I hope so (Monumental Air '09!).
The lingering fear that some incompetent GM will overvalue J.J. Redick and offer someone that really helps Orlando on a trade. Think Kwame-for-Caron, but way more watered down.
Why I'm not sure what to think:
Is it just me, or is Orlando GM Otis Smith trying to re-create the mid-90's Rockets with Dwight Howard taking the role of Hakeem doing all the damage inside, and then surrounding the dominant big man with perimeter shooters? Think about it, Rashard Lewis is their Robert Horry (if Robert cared about the regular season), Mickael Pietrus is like a less angry version of Vernon Maxwell, and Hedo Turkoglu is a poor man's Clyde Drexler (in terms of productivity, not mid-air artistry). It's a little bizarre, but that's what I always go back to when I think about the Magic. Then again, I was 6 years old when the Rockets won their second title, so my memories might be a little warped.
Why I'm not scared:
If Redick sticks around, this:
The Magic are celebrating their 20th anniversary this season. Traditionally, the gift for a 20th anniversary is china. Is that an omen that the Magic will be especially fragile this year? Probably not, but if they end up being injury-prone this season, remember that I said this.
I'm not sure if they've got enough to win the Eastern Conference crown in O-Town ths season, but I don't see any reason why they can't repeat as Southeast Division champs this season. Of course, it Dwight Howard takes another quantum leap, all bets are off for this team.