The beautiful thing about being part of such a great network of blogs (ESPN’s TrueHoop Network) is that whenever something big happens between two teams (sorta like this Vince Carter trade), there is someone I can talk to about it who watches their team (In this case the Magic) as much as I watch the Nets. So when the trade went down, I sent over a few questions to the great Magic blogger Zachary McCann of OrlandoMagicDaily. He was kind enough to answer them:
1. How is Courtney Lee’s shot? I know he was hitting during the playoffs in stretches, but how was his shot during the regular season? Can he play in the dribble-drive/pick and roll offense? Before each game, Stan Van Gundy posts a piece of paper on each player’s locker with personalized points of emphasis for the night. Dwight Howard’s usually said “defend and rebound.” Mickael Pietrus’ said something to the effect of “play with energy and shut down the opponents’ best player.” On the top of Courtney Lee’s sheet it always said “be aggressive on offense.” Every time. That’s because Lee is filled with an incredible amount of offensive potential — from his smooth shooting stroke to his ability to penetrate and get to the rim — and with some assertiveness he can really be a special offensive player. You should be excited about Lee. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s good enough to start on a championship team.
The stats don’t lie. He shot 40.4 percent from 3-point range on the season, and he’s especially deadly from the corner. In the Magic’s first-round series against the Sixers, Lee really came into his own with 39 total points in the team’s first two victories before going down with an injury.Check out these quotes from the Sixers after Lee went off on them.
Lou Williams: “We’ve got to start treating him like one of the big boys. It’s not just about Dwight, Rashard and Turkoglu anymore.”
Andre Miller: “We need to put a little more focus on him. He brings confidence; he knows we are going to force him to make plays because we are focusing on Hedo, Rashard and Dwight.”
Tony DiLeo: “We knew he was a good player, he has strength, he has athleticism… He can hit the baseline shot, he can hit the pull-up jumper and he’s a good driver too … when you have those combinations it’s very tough to guard. I think that was a very good draft pick for Orlando, he’s going to help them for years to come.”
2. Rafer Alston was crazy inconsistent during the playoffs. Was he that inconsistent during the regular season? Can he play the backup PG spot effectively?
There’s a reason Alston has played on six teams in 10 seasons. He puts up too many shots, often tries to do too much and he’s a wildly inconsistent player who you can never really depend on. I — like the Magic and Magic fans — am very grateful for his above-average play in the playoffs, but the guy isn’t a starting point guard in the league anymore. That said, he’s a great backup… maybe the best backup point guard in the league. His quickness is still there. He can excite the crowd with his highlight-reel passes. He’ll certainly give you energy off the bench, and he’s capable of catching fire from the outside (which is what you want for a player backing up your star). My only concern is how happy he’ll be playing 10-15 minutes off the bench behind Devin Harris. Whether he’s better than that at this point is debatable, but I can guarantee you one thing — Rafer thinks he’s better than that.
3. Can Tony Battie play the 4? Or does he play the 5 exclusively?
Battie can play the 4 or 5… Thee seasons ago Battie started at power forward alongside Dwight Howard. That said, if your team’s depending on Battie for anything but spot minutes, you’re in trouble. His athleticism has all but disintegrated, and he’s more or less a spot-up mid-range shooter at this point. On defense, he’s OK — not bad, not great. I’d keep the expectations low on what to expect from Battie.
And one last thing… enjoy:
So what do we learn from this? Well C.Lee is going to be a very good player. Rafer Alston will be a solid back-up, but we may encounter problems if his playing time is limited (I don’t think it will be and I see him getting 20 minutes a game at both G spots – at least early on). Finally, Battie can play both the 4 and the 5, but we shouldn’t expect too many minutes from him. This could be a problem, because based on what we got in terms of depth at the 4 spot, he may see a good amount of minutes.
I also answered some questions for Zach over at his site. I encourage some of you guys to go over there and answer the questions he asked me in the comments. I am hoping some of the Magic fans come over and do the same.