State of the Magic: Midseason Report

The theme coming into the season for the Orlando Magic was supposed to be continuity.  With a full season behind them, learning each other’s strengths, weaknesses and personalities was supposed to be the cure to the playoff collapse of last season.  Chemistry was supposed to be the solution.  Well, so far throughout the 2010-2011 the only continuity has been change and the chemistry turned out to be volatile.  The Magic have utilized ten different starting lineups already, thanks to a massive stomach bug and the substantial December mega-trades.  Far from consistent.

Where we’ve been:

The season so far has certainly felt like a roller coaster.  After starting the season 15-4, the team would begin to struggle mightily in the month of December going 1-5 before the big trades on December 18th.

Out were Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis, Mickael Pietrus and Marcin Gortat and in were Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Earl Clark.

The team has gone 10-5 with its new roster and those 5 losses came at an average of less than 5 points per game.  Included in those 10 games was a franchise-high-tying nine game winning streak.

CATEGORY BEFORE DEC. 20 (26 games) DEC. 20-PRESENT (15 games)
Points 96.6 ppg. (2,511 pts.) 105.1 ppg. (1,576 pts.)
Opponent points 92.8 ppg. (2,414 opp. pts.) 97.7 ppg. (1,465 opp. pts.)
FG percentage .464 (920-1,982) .467 (568-1,216)
Opponent FG percentage .443 (904-2,040) .450 (544-1,208)
3-point FG percentage .352 (217-617) .415 (169-407)
Assists 18.3 apg. (476 assists) 22.7 apg. (341 assists)

As you can see from the chart, while the offense has improved greatly since the trades, the addition of Jason Richardson, Gilbert and Turk has decreased the overall team defense to an enormous extent. 

Where we are:

After 41 games, the Magic lay at 5th in the East and hold a slightly above mediocre 26-15 record.  As it is today, the Magic are probably not considered as a serious threat to fully challenge the Lakers, Heat or the Celtics.  The 9 game winning streak was promising, but as the team has lost 3 of its last 4 on the road, the team’s shortcomings have been exposed.

The team is still learning who they are and Coach Stan Van Gundy still doesn’t seem to know exactly how he wants the team to look.  When asked after the recent loss to the Thunder, in which the Magic got off to a now normal slow start, Stan said, “I just think that maybe we’ve got the wrong group playing. I don’t know. We’ll have to look at that. Or maybe they need to do something to get off to better starts. But it seems like we’re down 10 every night playing out of a hole.”

The two obvious things to look at in the starting lineup are the PG situation and the PF situation.

Jameer Nelson vs Gilbert Arenas and Brandon Bass vs Ryan Anderson

Jameer Nelson since Dec 20th  
29 8.6 43.90% 1.8 5.7 2.2 105 10.7
Gilbert Arenas since Dec 20th  
22 9.5 35.90% 1.5 4.1 2.4 101 9.2

What the Magic need from their starting PG is someone to facilitate the offense and bring a sense of urgency to the team on defense.   Gilbert, while having the better overall defensive numbers hasn’t proved that he can take smart shots on offense and It is hard for me to imagine that he could lead the team better at this point than the team’s co-captain.

To view the rest of the post, including the Bass vs Anderson breakdown and player grades, click here.

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