Hardwood Paroxysm’s Incomplete 2010-2011 NBA Previews: Orlando Magic

Yeah, yeah, we didn’t do one for every team. Not like you all won’t get your fair shake around here, for better or worse. Trust me, if you’re some of the teams out there, you don’t want to hear us talk about you.

But, with a little less than 48 hours to go before the season opener in Miami,we’re going to throw up some stuff discussing the upcoming season. And for starters, we bring you the Magic.

GUEST LECTURE

Today’s guest lecture comes from Eddy Rivera of MagicBasketball.Net. Eddy is a graduate student at Northwestern University and likes woolen socks.-Ed.


It’s championship or bust for the Orlando Magic. Like last year. But this year feels a little different. Yes, the Miami Heat are the proverbial elephant in the room and with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh forming like Voltron, they will be the standard bearer in the Eastern Conference much to head coach Stan Van Gundy’s chagrin. Yes, the Boston Celtics remain the litmus test for the Magic, in the sense that the C’s will continue to be a difficult matchup with their personnel. The Celtics seemingly endless supply of big men, which begins with Kendrick Perkins (when healthy), Jermaine O’Neal, and ends with Shaquille O’Neal, will push the limits with Howard when the two conference rivals face off against each other.

Kanye West once said, “no one man should have all that power.”

However, there’s one player for Orlando that has the power to change everything that happens in the East and that’s Dwight Howard.

Since the Magic christened themselves as title contenders en route to their NBA Finals appearance in 2009, Howard has always had the power to determine his team’s road to a championship yet he’s come up short.

That’s why Howard is kicking things up a notch.

During the off-season, Howard spent a week in Houston working out with Hakeem Olajuwon and improving his low-post game. When video chronicling their training sessions surfaced on YouTube, the internet was abuzz. And when Orlando kicked off their preseason against — ironically — the Houston Rockets, the NBA was put on notice after Howard put on an offensive display against Yao Ming, blitzing him for 10 points in the first quarter when they were matched up head-to-head. Not just with hook shots, mind you, but with mid-range jumpers and spin moves. Granted, it was one game and Yao is not in tip-top form right now, but Howard doesn’t care (he pulled the same shenanigans against Emeka Okafor). Did I mention that Howard also sought out the wisdom of Karl Malone and another player that he would not name?

Howard is a man on a mission.

Correction. Howard is a serious man on a mission. No more goofing around. All the antics that people have been accustomed to seeing from Howard for the past six years when he’s on the court? No longer happening.

Losing sucks. Having the Heat take all the attention away from the Magic in the state of Florida, in the same conference, in the same division. That sucks, too. Those are some of the reasons why Howard has changed. Or if you take Howard’s word for it, he’s different because he “got older.”

Whatever the case may be, things have never been more interesting with Howard than they are right now. That’s precisely why Howard is one of the key players to watch in the league this season. For years, people have been waiting for Howard to fully evolve into a dominating two-way player.

Well, the wait might be over this year.

PLAYFUL TUNES:

PLAYER WHO COULD BE AN IMPACT GUY BUT PROBABLY WON’T BE:

Ryan Anderson. Why? Because I don’t trust SVG. That’s why. “Oh, he’s going to play Rashard more at the three.” “Oh, no, he’s not going to stick to a pure 4-out-1-in.” “Oh, he really believes in Anderson.” Don’t buy it. He’s a swindling mustachioed conniver trying to swindle me out of hope. That sonofagundy is giong to try and get me to buy into his mishmash nonsense of changing his ways, but I know better. Oh, Ryan will get minutes to start out. And he’ll play well. But then SVG will scream at him over some blown rotation where the other team doesn’t even score or for not being in position when Vince breaks the play anyway. And he’ll be back, buried, giving the sad panda face and trying not to cry on national television. I’m too smart for you, SVG. I’m not falling for your little nonsense anymore. I’m an adult now. An adults know: coaches don’t change.

(Possible exceptions: Larry Brown, Rick Carlisle, Rick Adelman, pretty much every coach ever.)

YOU SHOULD TOTALLY WATCH BECAUSE:

Good Goddamn can this team play basketball-o. Fast, strong, athletic, talented, skilled, versatile, efficient, dedicated, you got a superlative that’s good, they’ve got it. This is an incredibly good team on paper, and it translates on the floor for almost all the time. Boson detonating them like blowing up one of the legs of an underwater structure and watching the rigs fall into the ocean while the fish panic wasn’t them getting exposed, it was Boston getting revealed as one of the more dominant focus-level teams of the decade. The Magic shoot threes, dunk the ball, dribble-drive, play in transition, and defend like mad. There’s almost nothing to not like about this team.

YOU SHOULD TOTALLY HATE THIS TEAM BECAUSE:

They expose the true folly of underdogs in the NBA. Even when you’re the favorite, you’re not the favorite. That’s all I got. Oh,and they have this guy.

Matt Moore

Matt Moore is a Senior NBA Blogger for CBSSports.com's Eye on Basketball blog, weekend editor of Pro Basketball Talk on NBCSports.com, and co-editor of Voice on the Floor. He lives in Kansas City due to an unbelievably complex set of circumstances and enjoys mid-90's pop rock, long walks on the beach and the novels of Tim Sandlin.