In the next installment of, what we hope will be an ongoing series this season, NAS is reaching out to other NBA bloggers so Nets fans can understand a little bit more about their upcoming opponent. Today, we chat with Andrew Melnick from the Orlando Magic blog, Howard the Dunk:
NAS: I get a sense from some Magic bloggers out there that they feel a bit disrespected by the pundits headed into this season. Where’s the love for the defending Eastern Conference champions?
Melnick: Good question. After Orlando’s unbeaten preseason, a couple of the “experts” changed their tune. For example, Bill Simmons put Orlando in the championship after the team’s last preseason game, but for the most part, Orlando has been disrespected – again. ESPN recently posted a pool asking who would win the championship this season and Orlando wasn’t an option. When the experts pass on picking the Magic, they usually point to the loss of Hedo Turkoglu and the addition of Vince Carter as the reason. They say that Carter isn’t as good of a playmaker and won’t be as much of a 3-point threat. Carter actually has a higher assist ratio for his career and was statistically a better 3-point shooter than Turk last year. The Magic also should have the best second unit in all of basketball, so I really don’t know why the experts and pundits have no love for the Magic.
NAS: How do you expect the NJ crowd to welcome Vince Carter tonight?
Melnick: From what I’ve heard, many New Jersey fans were unhappy with Carter but after last season, I think he won some fans over. Carter played in 80 games, played 36.8 minutes per game and still put up All-Star types numbers in the middle of a very down year for the Nets. I’m hoping that fans remember him for this and give him the ovation he deserves.
NAS: Do you have any concerns about VCs overall game and how it affects the Magic?
Melnick: What’s funny is that one of the biggest problems Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy had with Carter earlier on in practice during training camp is that he wasn’t shooting enough. He was deferring to other players in what must have been an attempt to endear himself to his new teammates. I’m a little worried about Carter’s defense and he was called out by Stan Van Gundy on day one of training camp, but he really seemed to respond. He was hustling on defense even taking charges during the pre-season.
NAS: Why should Nets fans get excited about Courtney Lee?
Melnick: Courtney Lee is going to be a very good player in this league. First of all, he is a very good person off of the court and loves to interact with the fans. He is best known for his defense and rightfully so, but Lee was a dominating offensive player in college. He’ll never be a dominating scorer in the NBA, but he should be a very good third or fourth option. He is a good shooter who has 3-point range, but his shot was streaky last season. I really like his pull-up jumper. He also has a very quick so he can blossom into a very good catch-and-shoot player. He can obviously finish around the basket. Just ask LeBron James.
NAS: Ryan Anderson is another member of that Magic-Nets trade who has gotten a lot of positive press during the off-season. How do you see him fitting in once you get into the thick of the season?
Melnick: I think (Magic General Manager) Otis Smith did a great job of getting Ryan Anderson back in this trade. As of right now, Ryan Anderson is the starter. Of course, after Rashard Lewis comes back from his 10-game suspension, Anderson will be back on the bench. Anderson has a game that is very similar to Lewis’ so the Magic don’t have to change their offense at all with Anderson at Power Forward, which is a nice luxury. The Magic do also have a bruiser at PF – Brandon Bass and he may make it difficult for Ryan to see a lot of minutes when Lewis returns, but anyone who can shoot the ball as well as Ryan should fit in very well with this offense.