Magic and Bobcats and Hawks (Oh My!)

Brace yourselves folks, because we're going to do the entire Southeast Division over the weekend.

ORLANDO MAGIC

Record:  36-46, 3rd in Southeast Division, 10th in Eastern Conference

Statistical Comparison:

Noteable:

3rd in field goal %
27th in assists

Others:

22nd in the league in scoring (94.9ppg)
13th in opponent scoring (96.0ppg)
17th in ppg differential (-1.1)
14th in opponent field goal %
6th in three-point %
23rd in rebounding
25th in steals
17th in blocks
24th in turnovers
25th in opponent turnovers

Additions:  
Keith Bogans, J.J. Redick (R), James Augustine (R)

Subtractions:  
DeShawn Stevenson, Mario Kasun, Stacey Augmon, Terence Morris

Key Players

PG:  Jameer Nelson, Carlos Arroyo, Travis Diener
SG:  Keyon Dooling, J.J. Redick, Keith Bogans
SF:   Hedo Turkoglu, Grant Hill, Trevor Ariza
PF:   Dwight Howard, Pat Garrity, Bo Outlaw
C:   Tony Battie, Darko Milicic, James Augustine

Comments:  Any assessment of the Magic should start and end with the fact that Dwight Howard is a stud and a half.  That said, sticking him on this team is like putting a major college linebacker in a three-legged race with his 93-year old grandmother for a partner.  It doesn't matter how good he is, a sorry finish is preordained.  Hedo Turkoglu is a decent player in the European style but he's given them much less than they hoped for. Jameer Nelson may...MAY...turn out to be a serviceable starting point guard.  After that it's pretty much one-dimensional players.  Don't even talk about Grant Hill coming back for one last "one last hurrah".  Fool me once, shame on you, fool me a dozen times and I must be a Magic season ticket holder.  They have a lot of decent shooters but no real explosive, game-changing scorers...not even Howard at this point.  And hitting the shots they do take is about the only thing this team does well.  Even if J.J. Redick turns out to be a decent shooter it's hard to see where the Magic did anything but tread water this off-season.  And treading water ain't great for a 36 win team.  Can anybody convince me why this team will break .500 this year?  I just don't see it.
 

CHARLOTTE BOBCATS

Record:  26-56, 4th in Southeast Division, 13th in Eastern Conference

Statistical Comparisons:

Noteable:

27th in ppg differential (-4.0ppg)
30th in field goal %
28th in opponent field goal %
1st in steals
1st in opponent turnovers

Others:

18th in the league in scoring (96.9ppg)
24th in opponent scoring (100.9ppg)
23rd in three-point %
24th in rebounding
10th (tie) in assists
19th in blocks
13th in turnovers

Additions:  
Othella Harrington, Adam Morrison (R), Walter Hermann (R), Ryan Hollins (R)


Subtractions:  
Jumaine Jones, Melvin Ely, Kareem Rush, Keith Bogans, Lonny Baxter

Key Players

PG:  Raymond Felton, Brevin Knight
SG:  Gerald Wallace, Matt Carroll, Kevin Burleson
SF:  Adam Morrison, Alan Anderson, Bernard Robinson
PF:  Emeka Okafor, Sean May, Othella Harrington, Walter Hermann
C:  Primoz Brezec, Melvin Ely, Jake Voskuhl, Ryan Hollins

Comments: Like Orlando, Charlotte suffers from having too many one-dimensional players.  Okafor is a premier defender but will never be a scoring champ.  Gerald Wallace is an exciting young player who may turn out to be their best all-around guy.  After that you've got Raymond Felton who is a good passing point guard but a horrible shooter, Primoz Brezec who is a nice scoring finesse center but soft on defense, and a bunch of guys that make you either go, "Who?" or "He's still around?"  Unlike the Magic, the Bobcats did pick up a premier rookie in Adam Morrison who may change the complexion of the team by himself.  Okafor and Wallace should help erase his defensive shortcomings and allow him to concentrate on scoring, which is what they really need.  They'll also find out if Sean May is going to be a player this year, perhaps moving Okafor to center more often.  They have to do something defensively.  They're plenty opportunistic but sorely lacking in the shut-down department.  I think A-Mo and another year of experience make a difference of 5-6 games for them to the good this year though.  Not bad for a team still in its expansion era.

ATLANTA HAWKS

Record:  26-56, 5th in Southeast Division, 14th in Eastern Conference

Statistical Comparisons:

Noteable:

26th in opponent scoring (102.0ppg)
28th in ppg differential (-4.8ppg)
27th in opponent field goal %
28th in turnovers

Others:

16th in the league in scoring (97.2ppg)
17th in field goal %
11th in three-point %
20th in rebounding
20th in assists
15th in steals
15th in blocks
8th in opponent turnovers

Additions:  
Speedy Claxton, Lorenzen Wright, Shelden Williams (R), Solomon Jones (R)

Subtractions:  
Al Harrington, John Edwards, Anthony Grundy, Donta Smith

Key Players

PG:  Speedy Claxton, Tyronn Lue, Royal Ivey
SG:  Joe Johnson, Salim Stoudamire
SF:  Josh Smith, Josh Childress
PF:  Marvin Williams, Shelden Williams, Esteban Batista
C:  Zaza Pachulia, Lorenzen Wright, Solomon Jones

Comments: Oh...ugh.  Do I even have to write about this mess?  Joe Johnson is good, but not good enough to carry a team.  Josh Smith is freaky but might be learning all the wrong things amidst the constant losing.  They lost Al Harrington for nothing.  Marvin Williams has shown little.  Their centers are named Zaza, Lorenzen, and Solomon, which sounds more like a Romanian Trapeze group than an NBA position battery.  (Joking aside, I have moderate respect for Pachulia and did like the Lorenzen Wright pick-up.)  Shelden Williams should be NBA-ready if Marvin is not, but Speedy Claxton just broke his hand which leaves them pretty hard up for people to get the ball to the big guys.  It looks like another year of confusion and headache in the Southland.  What's the over/under on a Joe Johnson trade demand?

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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