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News » Orlando Magic Getting Inside 2008-06-30

Orlando Magic Getting Inside 2008-06-30

Orlando Magic Getting Inside 2008-06-30
A team with a poor draft history finally might have made the right pick. Although the Magic have hit it big with No. 1 picks like Shaquille O'Neal (1992) and Dwight Howard (2004), they have struggled badly with their outside-the-top-10 selections through the years.

Their history is loaded with guys like J.J. Redick (No. 11 2006), Fran Vazquez (No. 11, 2005), Reece Gaines (No. 15, 2003), Ryan Humphrey (No. 19, 2002), Steven Hunter (No. 15, 2001) Jeryl Sasser (No. 22, 2001) and Johnny Taylor (No. 17, 1997), players who made virtually no impact on the team or in the league.

While no team hits consistently outside the top 10, the Magic have been consistently bad.

Courtney Lee (No. 22, 2008) of Western Kentucky believes he could bring the string of poor picks to an end. The Magic, with the prospect of losing their starting shooting guard (Maurice Evans) to free agency this summer, think they found a good one in Lee. After four years at Western Kentucky, finishing as the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, Lee looks as NBA-ready from a maturity standpoint as anyone in the draft.

"I can bring a lot to the table," he said during his introductory press conference. "I've learned a lot in those four years. I'm ready and willing to do whatever it takes."

The Magic are trying to continue their rise in the Eastern Conference, following their finest season in 12 years. They won 52 games and reached the second round of the playoffs before losing to the Detroit Pistons.

They believe that the continued maturity of a young nucleus -- particularly Dwight Howard -- and keeping the core intact will allow the team to take the next step.

SEASON HIGHLIGHT: Dwight Howard emerged as the league's next great center, setting a foundation from which they can build. He had 10 games of at least 30 points and 15 rebounds. The emergence of Hedo Turkoglu was surprising. He went from a career as a role player to a reliable, late-game go-to-guy.

TURNING POINT: Everything was going so well, an outstanding regular season and a stomping of the Toronto Raptors in the first round. Once the series with Detroit began, it all turned sour pretty quickly. The Pistons were too experienced and too tough for the free-flowing Magic with all their three-point shooters. The Magic lived and died with the three-pointer all season long, but it didn't work in the playoffs against the Pistons.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: June 30, 2008


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