Sun Sports and FS Florida broadcaster David Steele is in the midst of his 23rd season of Orlando Magic basketball, and his 14th as the play-by-play announcer for the team's television broadcasts. He was named television play-by-play voice for the Orlando Magic in March of 1998 after handling radio play-by-play duties for the team's first nine seasons. Steele shares his unique take on what's happening with the Orlando Magic and more with his newest blog.
Posted by David Steele, Monday, October 29, 2012, 5:30 PM
Counting Down to Opening Night
The regular season for the Orlando Magic gets started on Friday night when the Denver Nuggets come to the Amway Center. For the Magic franchise, the big story is there is a new direction. A new coach. 10 new players. After eight preseason games there are some things we know about the 2012-13 version of the Magic, and there are a few things we have yet to discover. Here are a few thoughts as the season approaches.
The Magic are going to be ok at the center position. No, they no longer have the premiere big man in the NBA, but there is reason to be encouraged by the preseason play of Nikola Vucevic and Gustavo Ayon.
Vucevic averaged 8 points and 8.7 rebounds, playing just 20 minutes per contest. The 7-footer has a well-rounded offensive game, a nice shooting touch, is smart and coachable, and has just turned 22 years old. Vucevic will be the starting center.
Ayon, who will miss the first week or so of the regular season with a thumb injury, averaged 8.6 points and 6.2 rebounds in the preseason in 22 minutes per game. "Goose" is less skilled offensively than Vucevic, but is a hustle machine, and has a knack for getting open looks behind the defense around the rim.
Between the two of them, (can we call them Vucegoose?) the center position looks like it could be a team strength.
While Ayon recovers from the minor thumb injury, the Magic can count on Glen, "Big Baby" Davis to provide help at the center position. Davis will be the club's starting power forward, and appears ready to take a major step forward this season. He averaged 16.9 points and 5.7 rebounds in the preseason, picking up where he left off in the playoffs last April against Indiana. Big Baby has made big strides in terms of leadership. His improved maturity on and off the court should serve the Magic well.
In the backcourt, Jameer Nelson provides outstanding leadership at the point guard position, and the Magic also appear to be in good hands at the 2-guard spot. J.J. Redick had an outstanding preseason, and seems to be ready to build on what was his best year in the NBA. Still, Redick will have competition for playing time in the Orlando back court.
Newly acquired Arron Afflalo did not play in the preseason until the last two games due to a hamstring injury, but looks like he's ready to give the Magic solid minutes on both ends of the floor. Afflalo has increased his scoring average in each of his first 5 seasons in the NBA, and will likely be the Magic's starting 2-guard. It will be interesting to see if Jacque Vaughn can find a way to get both Redick and Afflalo on the floor at the same time.
That search for the right combination of players will be one of Vaughn's biggest challenges early in the season. Can Redick and Afflalo play together? Which bigs mesh well? Can Vucevic and Ayon co-exist on the floor? With so many new players, expect to see the Magic's first year head coach to take a look at any number of combinations in the early going.
The Magic will also be focusing on shoring up their defense early in the season. Stopping dribble penetration, and making opposing teams shoot over the top of a packed in defense will be keys to success.
The first test of the NBA's season long marathon arrives for the new look Magic Friday night. Let the games begin!
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