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Orlando Youth Basketball

November 10, 2005

The Orlando Magic sold out their home opener for the first time in 8 years. You'd think the Magic would have to be playoff-worthy to warrant that fact, but Orlando doesn't appear to be going anywhere. When they start having West Coast trips against contending West teams, the losses might start to pile up.

In the East, every team other than Toronto, Charlotte and Atlanta has a chance to get in the playoffs. Orlando would be right in the hunt for that #8 spot, if 2 things hadn't gone wrong. First, the predictable: Grant Hill got injured. Since the injury occurred away from his knees, Grant should be back in about a month. Much of Orlando's first half flourish last year was in part to Hill's resurgence in health. But when he missed the last 9 games of the year, Orlando lost 8. Beginning the year without Hill at least is better than finishing it without him.

And here's the other reason Orlando is worse than last year: no first round draft pick. What happened was their first-round draftee, a Center by the name of Fran Vazquez, never actually made it to training camp. Inexplicably, Vazquez entered the NBA draft without being fully commited, and left to go play Europe ball shortly after he was drafted. Yeah, that's good scouting. And since rookie Travis Diener hasn't played yet, Orlando will find it impossible to improve with no draft pick and injuries to Keyon Dooling and Grant Hill.

Orlando has serious problems offensively. Hill and Francis are the only ones who can create their own shot. But since Hill is gone and Francis is the PG, scoring often goes down to buzzer. Way too often Bo Outlaw and Kelvin Cato will find themselves with the ball with the shotclock running down. DeShawn Stevenson has potential, but he and Francis both have to defend better on the perimeter. 20 made 3's in 3 games is way too much. If they can develop Howard and get Hill back in time, they could theoretically make a run. For their sake, let's just hope Grant Hill doesn't wake up with a cringe in the morning.

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