There is a lot of negativity surrounding the Magic right now. There are concerns about Dwight Howard's future, concerns about making roster changes and really a generally poor outlook for the future. After the Magic's first round exit, 2011-12 is certainly an important year where the Magic must regain their place among the NBA's elite. If they don't the future will be bleak.
Maybe though, 2010-11 was a flash in the pan. A small blip on the road to an NBA championship, the bump in the road that inspired the championship run -- like the Mavericks for the last five years.
That might be what Sporting News' Sean Deveney believed when he released his summer power poll. He has the Magic sixth and third in the East. It shows the power of Dwight Howard and how much talent Orlando still has on its roster.
I strongly believe this team needed a training camp to get on the same page. Making all the changes mid-season had Orlando figuring out exactly what it wanted to do and little time to make sure the new teammates had it down. It also gave Stan Van Gundy little time to implement any new wrinkles into his offense and make sure everyone was on the same page. That is what a training camp is good for.
Dwight Howard seemed to hint that there was a lot of confusion when it came to where to be on the floor offensively and the effort necessary to win. Again, a lot of that can be instilled during training camp.
Reports also said Stan Van Gundy's offense seemed to stifle some of the weapons the Magic did have. Again, training camp might be the place to insert the wrinkles that make this roster more successful.
Van Gundy told Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel on Tuesday: "These are the players we have. We don't have a lot of guys who are going to break their man down off the dribble and take the ball to the basket. … We have a lot of guys who can shoot the ball. I think that fits well around Dwight. When we get open 3s, we're going to shoot the ball. That's the way it's going to be played, at least with the people we have. If our people change, our style of play will change."
Of course, it is Van Gundy's job to figure out how to make all those players work together in a way that will win the team a championship.
As Van Gundy and Bianchi have pointed out several times this postseason, the difference between the Magic and Mavericks is a small one (although I would say it is much bigger than they would believe). Bianchi said it came down to a matter of missing or making shots. The Magic missed a ton of shots in their series with the Hawks.
And Van Gundy has had a ton of success in Orlando in four years. He is going to add wrinkles, but, unless there is another major roster overhaul, he is going to keep going to what has been successful in helping the team earn four straight 50-win seasons.
Getting over the hump in the playoffs is another matter of course.
As for the regular season and looking ahead to 2011-12, it should be important to remember that this is still a very good team. As long as the Magic have Dwight Howard, they will be among the contenders for a title. And sixth in a summer power poll sounds like a very optimistic prediction.
So maybe things are not as bad as we thought. That is not to say, Orlando does not have work to do this summer to improve its roster.
Photo via DayLife.com.