Sunday, March 9, 2008

Orlando Magic Use Disrespect as Motivation

Talk regarding title contenders in the Eastern Conference usually begins and ends with three teams. The Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons sit atop the conference, holding league's best records at 49-12 and 45-17. Cleveland, if only for LeBron James, is always mentioned as the third threat.

Snuggled between Detroit and Cleveland in the conference standings is an one overlooking club. The Orlando Magic are 40-24 on the season, sit four games ahead of the Cavaliers, yet rarely are mentioned among the conference's best.

That fact surely has not gone without the notice of many Magic players:
There is a growing us-against-the-world sentiment in the Orlando locker room that the Magic aren't getting enough credit for dominating the Southeast Division, and keeping the heat on Boston and Detroit in the Eastern Conference.

It is not a forgone conclusion, Magic players insist, that the Pistons and Celtics are locks to be in the Eastern Conference Finals.

"A lot of the talk is about Boston and Detroit and even Cleveland some, but we want to try and make our statement come playoff time," Magic forward Rashard Lewis said. "Go ahead and sleep on us, label us as underdogs, and we'll be the team to surprise you in the playoffs.
There is no logical reason that the Magic are being ignored. Like any true contender, Orlando features a star, capable of crossing over into superstardom, in Dwight Howard. (Of course, history has shown it always helps to have a star center.) Howard, the NBA's elite rebounder, averages a league-best 14.5 rebounds. Add in his potent post game which, while not overly refined, can dominate physically-inferior big men. Howard scores 21.6 points each contest without any real offensive skill outside of the paint. On the other end of the court, Howard is the anchor of the Orlando defense.

In case teams are able to contain Howard inside, the Magic can look to forwards Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis. While neither player is an exceptional rebounder or defender, two areas Howard more than makes up for, they are key offensive options. Turkoglu is making a run at the NBA's Most Improved Player, upping his scoring output to 19.5 points to go along with his 4.8 assists. His ability to drive and to hit jump shots should be key in opening up the paint for Howard. Lewis offers many of the same skills as Turkoglu, though he has a better three-point shot. On the season, Lewis is the Magic's third leading scorer at 18.4 points per game.

In a playoff situation, the Magic have three players who possess the ability to go off for thirty points on any given night. That can make a team into an instant contender in the Eastern Conference. At the very least, Orlando deserves more attention then they are presently receiving.

For now, the Magic continue to use the slights as motivation. In the words of Dwight Howard, "Keep overlooking us, and we'll keep on playing like we have all season."


About the Undrafted Free Agent

Ron Crimson was the only player on the high school roster to not get in a game. He couldn't argue with the decision, because he sucked. Needless to say, yet stated anyway, when he entered the NBA draft following his sophomore season in college, he went undrafted. Now, Ron Crimson is the Undrafted Free Agent.

Contact the Undrafted Free Agent

Interested in informing the Undrafted Free Agent of his mistakes, advertisement opportunities, or a scoop on the latest sports scandal? (You can guess which is more likely.) Well, email him at undraftedfreeagent [at]

Look at This!

There's nothing here; I just needed to fill some space. Space eater! Space eater! Space eater! Space eater! Space eater! Space eater! Space eater! Space eater! Space eater! I also needed to balance it out a bit.

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