The Orlando Magic will not win an NBA Championship in the foreseeable future.
This fact became glaringly clear to me after watching Dwyane Wade single-handedly put the boots to the Magic in the closing moments of Sunday night’s loss to the Heat. Now that the “Dwight fight” is finally over and we know that the Magic will finish the season with virtually the same team that got bounced out of the first round by the perpetually middling Hawks, I find myself suffering from a distinct case of deja vu.
This team hasn’t gotten any better. Jameer Nelson is quick, but too small and not crafty enough to create the kind of penetration needed to allow for kick-outs and consistent outside scoring. He was easily negated this past Sunday by the Heat’s length and athleticism.
Hedo Turkoglu is over-the-hill and takes poor shots. This used to be OK when he was hitting regular game-winners and scoring in bunches, but he’s been a step slow for three years and the Heat owned him all night.
Jason Richardson has the tools, but refuses to slash to the basket, where he would be most useful. He’s not a consistent enough shooter to live on the perimeter and Nelson can’t get him enough shots to have value out there anyway. The Heat didn’t need to do anything to stop him on Sunday. He did it for them.
Ryan Anderson is the impoverished man’s Kevin Love. He can shoot from the outside and crash the boards, but lacks consistent tenacity and completely vanished against the Heat, who have forwards and centers that guard out to the three-point line.
And then there’s Dwight. He’s sure got a great smile, doesn’t he?
Magic fans must love seeing him grinning from ear to ear while he misses bunnies at the rim, free throws, and fails to finish post moves down the stretch. The Heat even kept him off the boards on Sunday and the intimidation factor in the paint was virtually non-existent. It baffles me that he is ranked as far and away the best center in the league. The fact is, Andrew Bynum has had equivalent, if not greater, value for his team this year. He is also a far superior offensive player by leaps and bounds.
A year ago, I thought Howard was making strides to become a more complete player. He seemed to show more interest in polishing his offensive game and even developed a fairly reliable baseline hook. Then he came into camp this year and his game had clearly reverted. Take a look at Shaq’s development at this stage in his career. He had grown into an amazing passer, his post moves were unstoppable, and he was simply dominant.
Dwight will never be dominant. He will never turn the corner. And it’s not because he’s mild-mannered. Go ask Tim Duncan if it’s possible to be a nice guy and remain a fierce competitor. The reason Dwight will never be dominant is written all over that perfect smile of his as he slaps fives with fans after suffering a pathetic loss on national television.