How do you feel about the team after the trade?
Im still pissed that the media strung us up on the flag pole and proudly waved us around as they trashed our team. Im still angry that the Media gushing over our franchises demise, while they raved about the Lakers ability to obtain Dwight Howard. To the point you would think that Jesus came back wearing a Lakers Jersey.
Im mad that I have to hear Dwight's tag lines these days, because I realized those same tag lines havent changed since our 2008 second round exit by the Detroit Pistons. In the wake of the 2009 finals, it was the same words. I was duped.
The whole offseason.... I was just mad.... i have way too many Laker friends I noticed and it was purely unintentional.
When the season busted through, I didnt know what to think or how to feel about this team. We still have some pieces from the old squad, how would they fit it with the new coach, new staff and new rookies who were collected from everywhere? The only thing I knew about this team, was a feeling that this isnt the team thats going to roll over. This isnt the team that is going to land you a #1 draft pick, if this was a legit drafting system instead of some "F-ing BS Balls".
I had this feeling because the guys who were left when the trade dust settled, are hard players and have been in alot of different situations that most teams would love to be in. We had players that been to championships and lost. We had a player who went to the championship and won. We had a player come to us from a supposedly rebuilding phase that never took place after Melo left Denver.
The season starts, two weeks deep. I relook at everything and every team, definitely the ones that were part of the trade. Because as a fan you really have to ask yourself, did Orlando really get screwed. Is the media correct.... because i cant be angry at them for being right...
I look at the Lakers and see that they are a complete mess. I look at Brooklyn who isnt doing too bad... I look at the 76ers and they still dont have Bynum and Jason is playing like Jason.... I look at the Nuggets and see that AI is still trying to figure things out. And then I look back at us and see that we didnt get shafted at all.
The media was wrong about how we handled it and what we got. And its due to the fact that none of those bozo's really waited to see how it was going to work before claiming which team has "God Status". But what do you expect from ESPN, who seems to be falling because their writers and analysts blow.
The night we have all been waiting for has arrived..... LAKERS VERSE MAGIC...... ESPN spins the best side stories of teams they like and front on a nightly basis. And I wasnt too sure that our team would handle that type of pressure, in LA.... against your Franchise players.... who rolled you under a bus.... who played with a cities emotions.. how would this young Magic team accomplish this task?
By wiping that smile off of Dwights face, by tormenting Dwight using his greatest weakness against him (which ironically was used against us several times). By embarrassing the LA franchise that was proclaimed to be "Championship Ready", but instead was beat convincingly by a team proclaimed to be "Rebuilding". 103 to 113... scoring 40pts in the 4th qtr against the "2" time defensive player of the year.... the guy who we use to wear the Magic blue. And there Dwight sat....alone to answer the tough questions.... no Kobe, No Pau, No other LA player beside him.... not like the Orlando players were there when Dwight needed them.
But it wasnt the highlight of the game to me. The highlight of the game is that you can actually see the Magic defense coming together, becoming more consistent.... being faster at weak side defense, defending the pick and roll, boxing out.... The hustle was just shining straight through the big lights of LA.
It was that hustle, that coming together that really put a smile on my face. I knew right then that we do have a quality team even with the younger guys playing some major minutes. I honestly believe that game really set the tone on how we are going to win the next ones. By playing defense, by playing for eachother, and not worrying about the outsiders.
Including the Lakers, the Magic have won 6 out of nine games.... Sweeping "2" teams from the West Coast, Warriors and Suns. In that 9 game stretch we have been able to hold down teams to around 41 - 42 % shooting... which puts us in the top 10 of FG defense. Something that is virtually unheard of when you add the "Rebuilding" tag line to our team. During that 9 game stretch, in the games we lost.... we had a chance to win... which again is not the case for a real rebuilding team.
Last night against Minnesota, our defense was awesome..... We clearly dont have the talent as the Wolves, but it didnt matter because you still need to play the game in order for you to say who is better. And we played.... hard.... through low points.... through high points... through frustration... through the joy. We made the adjustments after being down and executed our game plan without falling into the trap of playing into someone elses. We defended until the final buzzer.
I thought about that win, the joy that I was witnessing from a team that was labeled "DEAD". The Magic Zombies went out and had a wolf dinner. And have been eating teams consistently even when they are not suppose to.
How do I feel about the trade now.... Amazing. I feel that the younger guys are a huge help on exerting energy on the defensive end and not being rattled by vets. I feel the team is still getting closer to being what they want to be for this year. They are not looking at this as rebuilding, they are looking at this as trying to win a championship. There are no Diva's on this team and its for the better. The coaching staff have good players to chose from for different matchups and how to end quarters. Our young guys are showing some flashes of whats to come... Harkless being a ball Hawk.... Drew putting up 19pts.... Moore playing well.... 2nd yr Nik giving us double doubles..... Arron really trying to expand his game... and Davis being himself and playing to what is given to him (just started recently).
I am almost tempted to say that this team is better than the 2009 Magic team, but only stop myself because I still need to see this team reach that level of the 2009 one, and hopefully close the deal..... or atleast hit the free throws when they matter.... Glad Dwight isnt here anymore because of that hard fact. But I will say that this team, the 2012 Magic are better than all the other teams we had with Dwight, besides the 2009 Magic.
I look again at the landscape of the trade.... Lakers are losing it and the drama will start to unfold as Kobe plays the "Striker role" (aka Shooter... ) more. Brooklyn is without Lopez because his injured foot from last year is acting up, glad he was paid by them. Bynum is still MIA..... and his team is feeling it. Andre is starting to catch on in Denver which is really the only positive from the teams that were involved.
I smile..... because the Media was wrong... about the Magic side of the trade. The Magic didnt get shafted after all, they instead got better than any of the other previous teams that we had (minus 2009). The Magic have young talent, where everyone else is hitting their twilight years. The Magic have some additional pieces to move for a number of options. The Magic fixed their cap situation with a monster TPE from that deal. And the Magic dont have to worry about Dwight "Love Me Please" Howard.
2012 Magic Stat Defense Rankings:
#8 - Defense Overall
#7 - Opponents FG % (43%)
#2 - Opponents 3PFG % (33%)
#13 - Opponents Total Points (2,273pts)
#6 - Opponents Adjusted FG% (47%)
#6 - Defensive Rebounds
2012 Magic Stat Offense Rankings:
#18 - Offense Overall
#5 - Magic Assists (547)
#12 - Magic FG% (44%)
#26 - Magic 3PFG% (33%)
#18 - Magic Adjusted FG% (48%)
#18 - Magic Total Points (2,231)
#22 - Magic Offensive Rebounds (248)
#10 - Magic Rebounds Overall (1,041)
Looking at the above, they are some good rankings and bad ones. But none of those say that we are what "others" call us. To pull out one of the many used Otis lines:
"I Like This Team"
Thanks for hanging in there for this long post.