Magic getting national attention
Building on a strong finish to the NBA season, Darko Milicic looked great here in Japan. We all know he can shoot from the outside but here he showed off a pretty impressive left-handed hook shot. He was also aggressive going to the glass. In getting eliminated by powerful Spain, he banged with Pau Gasol all night and looked like he wanted to and got 15 rebounds.I need to remind myself to temper my enthusiasm. Last year's team finished 10th in the East with 36 wins. But the Magic expectations around the country are pretty high for next year based on the expected improvement of two 21 year olds. A reasonable goal for this year is making the playoffs, and worry about cracking the top 4 next year.
Meanwhile, Dwight Howard's athleticism continues to blow me away. Watching him outplay Yao Ming last week in Sapporo by constantly getting in better position for rebounds re-enforced my belief he'll be the NBA's best rebounder for the next decade. Then again Carlos Arroyo looked great for Puerto Rico. Obviously the guy has angered a few coaches, but his talent is unquestioned.
I expect those three guys to have huge seasons this year."
We should probably do a breakdown of East teams in September, but there is no reason to think Magic can't keep NY, Atlanta, Charlotte, Toronto and Boston in their rear view mirrors. To make the playoffs they need to pass at least two of Philly, Milwaukee, Chicago, Indiana and Washington. Last year 42 wins earned a #5 seed.