Lewis has averaged at least 20 points a game for the last three years.
Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Artis Gilmore and Kevin McHale are the only players to have shot as often as Dwight Howard did in 2006-07 (873 attempts) and have a better percentage than his 60.3%.
Record: 40-42 (8th in East) Points scored: 94.8 (27th in NBA) Points allowed: 94.0 (7th) Coach: Stan Van Gundy (first season with Magic)
It's what's up front -- a high-scoring vet joining a young All-Star -- that counts
Rashard Lewis spent his first nine NBA seasons in Seattle, where he was
overshadowed by Gary Payton and then Ray Allen. "Even though I was an All-Star
[in '05], a lot of NBA fans don't really know who I am," Lewis says. He
won't have that problem anymore. After signing a six-year, $118 million
contract with the Magic in July, the 6'?10" forward has moved to center stage.
Orlando is expecting Lewis to play like an All-Star again and, along with 6' 11"
center Dwight Howard, lead the team to its second straight playoff
That's a tall order for a team with an unproven backcourt (which consists of
inconsistent point guard Jameer Nelson and second-year guard J.J. Redick) and
little depth up front, but Lewis gives the Magic a fighting chance. The
sweet-shooting big man has averaged more than 20 points per game for three
straight seasons, including a career-best 22.4 a year ago. Lewis's ability to
shoot the three (38.6% for his career) should mesh well with Howard's physical
inside game and enable new coach Stan Van Gundy to follow through on his plan to
run an up-tempo attack.
The loss of power forward Tony Battie to season-ending rotator cuff surgery
means the slender Lewis will have to battle bulkier power forwards on many
nights. He also must be a vocal leader -- something he did not have to do as a
SuperSonic. But Lewis, a former second-round pick who made the jump to the NBA
from high school, says he's looking forward to the challenge.
"I'm not a guy with a big ego," he says. "Whether I'm the Number 1
option or Dwight is, we're in it together and with all the other guys wearing
Orlando jerseys. But I do want to win, and I want to be considered one of the
best players in the league. I've had to prove myself my whole career. This is no
different." -- Marty Burns