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10 Orlando Magic
Marty Burns
October 29, 2007
It's what's up front--a high-scoring vet joining a young All-Star--that counts
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October 29, 2007

10 Orlando Magic

It's what's up front--a high-scoring vet joining a young All-Star--that counts

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KEY BENCH PLAYERS: G Carlos Arroyo, F Trevor Ariza, F Pat Garrity, C Adonal Foyle*, F James Augustine
*New acquisition

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)

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 appearance.

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."

ENEMY LINES
An opposing team's scout sizes up the Magic

New coach Stan Van Gundy will have some immediate credibility. The players have seen him win with Miami, and they're young enough that it's a big thing to have a veteran coach they can rely on. . . . Dwight Howard is the best young big guy in the league by far. He blocks shots, rebounds and goes to the basket with ferocity. . . . It's obvious the Magic spent more than they had to on Rashard Lewis. Lewis is going to have a lot of pressure on him. . . . Jameer Nelson is a more effective point guard when he's surrounded by veterans. If you ask him to try to do a lot of stuff, he'll turn the ball over. But if he has guys he can rely on, he plays more under control. . . . Backup point Carlos Arroyo is a favorite of the fans, and they won't like it if he's not playing a lot. But I doubt he'll defend to Van Gundy's liking, and it wouldn't surprise me to see Orlando trade his expiring contract at the deadline. . . . Trevor Ariza may have a bigger role because of the defense he'll play off the bench. . . . It will be a good year if the Magic can reach .500.

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