Summer Time News
Dwight Howard, the cornerstone of the Magic's future, is the youngest player on the U.S. squad. His stellar play at defense, rebounding and shot blocking have put him squarely in the team's 8-10 player rotation. It doesn't always show up in the numbers but his performance has Chris Bosh & Brad Miller unhappy sitting at the end of the bench. Bosh beat out Howard for an All-Star game berth last year and recently signed a max extension.
Serbia is led by Darko Milicic. In the past, Serbia has been THE team in these competitions. No more, as Argentina and Spain have become the best international teams. Still, Darko is very impressive and has improved with each game, look at his stats:
Opposition, Points, Rebounds, Blocks, Assists
UPDATE: Darko's continues with impressive stats in a 87-75 loss to top seed Spain:
I saw the Venezuela game. The announcer counted 9 blocks for Milicic. Darko is 5th in the tournament at 8.2 rpg. Look out if the Magic start getting 24-12's and 18-11's from Darko, not to mention 2.8 blocks a game. Serbia continues into the elimination rounds with a tough game against Spain tomorrow.
Carlos Arroyo's PR team did not qualify for the elimination rounds, but Carlos had a great tournament. His 21.2 ppg and 5.2apg were both good for 4th best in the tournament. He ran into foul trouble in a 73-72 loss to Italy and was limited to 8 points. Highlights included 25-10 against China, 29-4 vs. Senegal and 23-2 vs the U.S. Arroyo should be confident coming into camp.
Two other players with Magic ties did not play for their national teams. Hedo Turkoglu skipped playing for Turkey to recover from a long season and prepare for next year. Fran Vasquez was on the Spanish team before a serious back injury forced him off the team.
On the homefront, Jameer Nelson has held his own Magic training camp this August. According to Joel Glass:
This past August, Nelson, on his own initiative, gathered his Orlando Magic teammates for a week-long bonding/basketball conditioning camp. The players worked out during the day and broke bread at night. Nelson passed out T-shirts to the team which said: Together-Effort-Attitude-Magic.Glass doesn't say who attended and who missed out, but it still sounds great that Nelson is stepping up and taking his share of the leadership role.
When asked about the camp, Nelson simply said he just wants to win, and whatever it takes to do that, I'm willing to do.
I look at last year as a stepping stone for every body on this team. We just have to be committed to one another and say that I trust that this guy is going to get better as an individual and a team player. That's one of the things we had at the end of the season trust and commitment. Everybody knows that we are a real team, so it's going to be that much harder and we have to prepare ourselves for that, says Nelson about the coming season
Not a bad summer actually. Dwight Howard is taking strides towards all-pro. Darko & Carlos gaining confidence. Jameer stepping up as a leader. Turk resting. New low-risk change at shooting guard. Team turnover limited to 3 guys and an assistant coach. Not bad at all.