2011-12 Orlando Magic Predictions and NBA Futures Odds
by Alan Matthews - 12/20/2011
I had three versions of the Orlando Magic betting preview basically done. The first was the one you are reading now, where Dwight Howard is the Magic’s center for the large majority if not all of the 2011-12 season. It seems like Orlando intends to hang onto its franchise superstar at least until the mid-March trade deadline in hopes of convincing Howard to re-sign this summer as an unrestricted free agent – the Magic could offer him more than any other club.
Howard says he will sign a long-term deal only with the Magic, Nets, Lakers or Mavericks.
The other two rough drafts I had for the Magic were: one where Orlando went forward with some package built around New Jersey center Brook Lopez and Portland swingman Gerald Wallace (and multiple first-round picks) in what had been rumored as a nearly completed three-or-four team trade early last week; the other was where Orlando got some sort of package built around the Lakers’ Andrew Bynum.
Needless to say, neither of those two trades would have boded well for Orlando’s prospects this season or probably for several years.
So I go ahead with where the Magic stand now. Howard says his trade demands stand, but nothing should happen for a while.
2011-12 Orlando Magic Offseason Moves
The big departure was that of Gilbert Arenas. And by big I don’t mean in terms of lost production but salary cap relief. Arenas averaged career lows in minutes (21.8), points (8.0) and assists (3.2) last season with the Magic, starting just two of the 49 games he appeared in after coming over in a trade.
Trading for him was an abject disaster. “Agent Zero” has about $62 million remaining on the final three years of his six-year, $111 million deal, so it was a no-brainer that the team used the amnesty clause on him (he still gets paid).
The main addition was former Celtics forward Glen Davis, who was acquired in trade for Brandon Bass. The players are rather alike. Davis, in his fifth season, averaged 11.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last season and started 13 of the Celtics' 78 games. Bass is entering his seventh NBA season and averaged a career-high 11.2 points and 5.2 rebounds last year in his second season with the Magic. He started 51 of the 76 games he appeared in.
Orlando also re-signed highly sought after shooting guard Jason Richardson, who arrived via Phoenix last season in trade. In 80 combined games -- all starts -- last season, he averaged 15.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists while shooting 39.5 percent from three-point range.
The Magic’s starting five is pretty much set then with Jameer Nelson at the point, Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu at small forward (he would be sent away in any trade as the Magic would love to dump his overpriced contract), Davis or perhaps Ryan Anderson at power forward and Howard, the three-time reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year. And it’s a good thing Howard is good on defense, because none of the other starters are.
2011-12 Orlando Magic Futures Odds
On Bovada, the Magic are +2800 for odds to win the NBA title and +1200 to win the Eastern Conference.
Howard is 15/2 to win his first NBA MVP award.
2011-12 Orlando Magic Schedule
The Magic are part of the NBA’s grand opening on Christmas, with Orlando visiting Oklahoma City in prime time. The home opener is the next night vs. Houston. And, in what could be interesting, the Nets visit on Dec. 29 and again on March 16, right after the trade deadline.
The Magic have 19 back-to-backs this season and one back-to-back-to-back (every team has at least one): Orlando will play in New York on Jan. 16 and at home against Charlotte and San Antonio on Jan. 17 and 18. Then the Magic get one day off before the Lakers visit in a national TV game and the only meeting of the season between the teams.
Probably the roughest stretch is when the Magic play six games in an eight-day period, beginning Jan. 23 at Boston and ending Jan. 30 at Philadelphia. That stretch consists of three back-to-backs with one day off between each of them.
The All-Star Game is in Orlando this year, and because the Magic have their longest road trip of the season (five games) leading up to the All-Star Game, the Magic will go from Feb. 17 to March 1 without playing at home.
The season concludes April 26 at Memphis.
2011-12 Orlando Magic Predictions
The Magic finished last season 52-30, second to Miami in the Southeast Division, and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs (in six by Atlanta, a team the Magic trashed the postseason previous).
I see no reason why Orlando can expect much better this year – obviously 52 wins won’t happen in a 66-game schedule, but you get my drift.
Remember how much the Denver Nuggets struggled last year with the Carmelo Anthony drama hanging over the team? And how much better the Nuggets played once Melo was shipped to New York? I could definitely see the Howard drama dragging this team down a bit, and I wouldn’t rule out Stan Van Gundy being the first coaching casualty of the season. Both he and GM Otis Smith were rumored to be in trouble after last year’s playoff flameout but got a vote of confidence from ownership.
Either way, this team figures to look very different next season and likely to fall into the same years-long rut it did when Shaq skipped town for L.A.
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