Thursday , Oct , 20 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Orlando Magic 2005-06 Season Preview

=== Orlando Magic 2005-06 Season Preview ===

By Warren Blatt, NBA Editor

2004-05 FINISH: 36-46

OFFSEASON ADDITIONS: Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje (C) – Free Agent; Keyon Dooling (G)
– Free Agent; Marcin Gortat (C) – Trade with Phoenix; Bo Outlaw (F) – Free
Agent.

OFFSEASON SUBTRACTIONS: Doug Christie (G) – Signed with Dallas.

2005 DRAFT PICKS: 1. (11) Fran Vazquez (F, Spain); 2. (38) Travis Diener –
(G, Marquette). 2. (44) Martynas Andriuskevicius (C, Lithiuania) – Traded to
Cleveland.

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP: PG Jameer Nelson, SG Steve Francis, SF Grant Hill,
PF Dwight Howard, C Kelvin Cato

COACH: Brian Hill

(Sports Network) – New head coach Brian Hill has returned once again to try
and guide the Orlando Magic to NBA glory. Hill has come back to the team that
he guided to three 50-plus win campaigns as well as an appearance in the 1995
NBA Finals.

Hill, who had been an assistant with the New Jersey Nets, replaced Chris Jent,
who took over on an interim basis after Johnny Davis was relieved of his
duties with 18 contests left in the 2004-05 season. The Magic finished 36-46
and missed the playoffs for the second consecutive year.

In three-plus years at the helm of the Magic, Hill, who also served as the
head coach of the Vancouver Grizzlies, compiled a 191-104 mark. He guided the
Magic to a 57-25 record in 1994-95. Orlando captured the Atlantic Division
title that season and reached the NBA Finals, where it was swept by the
Houston Rockets. The following year, the Magic posted a franchise-best 60-22
mark, but lost to the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference finals.
He was replaced as the Magic’s general by Richie Adubato on February 18, 1997,

There are some pieces in place for Hill to work with. Dwight Howard, who turns
20 on December 8, had a solid rookie campaign as he averaged 12.0 points and
10.0 rebounds. He played all 82 regular-season games and showed improvement as
the season progressed.

High-flying Steve Francis gives the Magic a dynamic presence in the backcourt.
He led the club in scoring (21.3 ppg) and assists (7.0 apg) in 78 contests
during his first year with Orlando. The three-time All-Star will spend a lot
of time at shooting guard this season, as Jameer Nelson is ready to take over
at point guard.

Grant Hill made a triumphant return in 2004-05. The 33-year-old forward
registered 19.7 points, 4.7 boards and 3.3 assists in 67 contests. Prior to
last season, he had played just 47 games because of serious problems with his
left ankle since joining the Magic before the 2000-01 campaign.

Fran Vazquez was selected with the 11th overall pick in the 2005 draft.
However, the Spaniard decided he was going to play in Europe during the
upcoming season.

Orlando did sign free agent guard Keyon Dooling, who played 74 games for the
Miami Heat last season and averaged 5.4 points and 1.8 assists. The 25-year-
old Dooling adds athleticism and depth in the backcourt.

BACKCOURT

Francis, Nelson and Dooling will get the majority of the minutes in the
backcourt. The Magic waived veteran Doug Christie, who signed with the Dallas
Mavericks, which left them thin at guard.

Nelson posted 8.7 points and 3.0 assists in 79 games in 2004-05, which was his
rookie campaign. He is a pure point guard, who thinks pass first and shoot
second. One problem that could arise is that Francis likes to have the ball in
his hands at all times and it could cause some problems with Brian Hill’s
schemes on offense.

Brian Hill will most likely implement more of a half-court style on offense,
which does not fit with the free-wheeling Francis, who likes to push the ball
up the court and create chaos. Last season, Orlando pushed the ball and tried
to play at an up-tempo pace.

DeShawn Stevenson will get the few minutes that are available at shooting
guard behind Francis. Stevenson is athletic and can contribute some positive
things in transition.

Francis is the key to the Orlando backcourt, and he and Brian Hill could be
headed for some clashes with the Magic’s new style of play. If Francis and
Brian Hill can’t co-exist, there will be a lot of problems in this backcourt.

FRONTCOURT

How much more does Grant Hill have left in the tank? Grant Hill did battle
some shin problems at the end of last season and was forced to miss some
games. The six-time All-Star is not a youngster anymore, but he will continue
to do his best to help contribute.

Howard is the cornerstone of the frontcourt. He does a solid job on both ends
of the court and is developing into an intimidating presence in the post. The
6-11 power forward works hard and gives Orlando a solid foundation to work
with.

Kelvin Cato will handle the responsibilities at center. The 6-11 big man
averaged 7.0 points and 6.7 boards in 62 games for Orlando last season. Cato
will benefit from Brian Hill’s slower pace on offense.

Tony Battie, Pat Garrity and Hedo Turkoglu will be Brian Hill’s main options
off the bench. Turkoglu, who registered 14.0 points per game in 67 contest in
2004-05, is instant offense and is capable of scoring in bunches. Battie will
backup Cato, while Garrity will spell Howard and Grant Hill.

OUTLOOK

Brian Hill brings a much more conservative approach to the table. Francis may
not be a happy camper for very long, while the rest of the athletic players on
Orlando’s roster could get frustrated as well. A season of controversy and
turmoil could be in the works for the Magic, who will miss the playoffs for a
third straight year with 33-35 wins.

ORL