Look, Dwight Howard has long known that he does not want to be a member of the Orlando Magic past this season, so does it matter that his current team is in such disarray, losers of four games in a row with Howard calling out his teammates for effort? Probably not. In fact, it likely prompts GM Otis Smith even more to make a move, but it doesn’t make him any less desperate. (Read: this painfully drags on for Orlando up to the March 15 trade deadline… Have a fun next six weeks Magic fans!) So with Baby Dwight wanting a cure-all change of venue, but not able to cure-all as Superman himself, his team takes on the lowly Washington Wizards tonight, with Howard likely preparing to be as proud as a schoolyard bully (Orlando is favored by 10 points). This 3-on-3 drill prior to possibly just one of Howard’s last 23 games in a Magic uniform includes Nate Drexler (@natedrex) of TrueHoop Network blog MagicBasketball.net, along with TAI’s John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend) and yours truly, Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It). Three questions, three answers starts now…
#1) Which stat is more surprising? That the Washington Wizards have a higher offensive rebound rate (ORB%) than the Orlando Magic (0.261 ORB% compared to 0.259 for Orlando; league average is 0.264)? NOTE: WAS eFG% = 0.442, 29th in NBA; ORL eFG% = 0.495, 9th in NBA)….
OR, that JaVale McGee is shooting worse on free-throws than Dwight Howard? (McGee is at 0.433 this season, 0.600 for his career; Howard is at 0.460 this season, 0.592 for his career.)
DREXLER: This is tough, because neither of these surprise me all that much. I suppose JaVale getting out sniped by Dwight from the charity stripe takes the cake, though. Look, when you have two bigs who shoot 60-percent and below for their careers, no amount of badness should catch you off guard, but McGee is getting close to 30-percent land! The biggest surprise of all is that no matter how hard I try to convince myself that JaVale McGee has star potential it just isn’t so. Guy sure is athletic, though. Why is it that athletic guys can’t shoot free throws?
TOWNSEND: Dwight Howard has always been consistent, if reliably unreliable, from the charity stripe, so I’m more surprised by JaVale McGee’s continued struggles at line. McGee has demonstrated a bit of a weakness for jump shots and perimeter-oriented play, as if he was a two-guard trapped in a 7-footer’s body, making it tough to comprehend how his free-throw percentage has dipped almost 25 points since his rookie season.
WEIDIE: As the eFG% indicates, it’s not wholly surprising that Washington is snagging more of the available offensive rebounds in their games than Orlando. With poor shot selection and the long arms of McGee — he averages 4.0 offensive rebounds per 36 minutes, ranked 10th in the NBA among those who have played more than 500 minutes this season — offensive rebounds are easier to come by for Washington. I’m surprised the JaVale McGee’s free-throws have regressed the point where he’s worse than Howard. Overall, NBA free-throw percentages have decreased during this lockout-shortened season (0.763 league average in 2010-11, down to 0.745 this season), but still… McGee seems to have OK touch for someone his size, at least better than Howard, so I’m not quite sure why he’s so horrible at the freebies.
#2) David Stern has asked you to start a franchise in Bangalore, India. You get to take four players from Orlando and Washington with you, but there’s a catch. You must select three players from one roster and only one player from the other. Who you got? [Note: I asked this question before a game versus the Bobcats... figure it might be tougher to answer with Orlando.]
DREXLER: It’s mighty tempting to take three guys from Washington right now, but I’m taking John Wall to India with me. From Orlando I take Dwight Howard, Ryan Anderson, and J.J. Redick. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t excite me, but I’m left with very few options. Note: the only reason I take three guys from Orlando is that I can’t for the life of me justify a third good player in Washington. I take John Wall and Rashard Lewis all day, but then what? Nick Young? Jordan Crawford? I’d rather shoot for something of a respectable percentage than risk it with a volume shooter. Plus, I think Howard, Anderson, and Redick would have an impact on the young John Wall — maybe teach him a thing or two about defense.
TOWNSEND: I’ll keep it mostly in-house again. From the Washington Wizards: John Wall (to run the point), Nick Young (to score points) and Chris Singleton (to lock it down outside). If you were to drop those three into a cage with Dwight Howard (the most obvious selection) standing behind them, they would handle all comers without breaking a sweat — even in the tropics.
WEIDIE: In Bangalore, you do as the Bangaloreans do… and I have no idea what they do, but I imagine that they would love to see a combo of John Wall, Jan Vesely, JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard. Might not be the best and brightest, but Lob City would immediately be outsourced from Los Angeles to India. Otherwise, should this team have to compete against other teams of NBA players (which I envisioned when coming up with this question), then the combo of Wall, J.J. Redick, Ryan Anderson and Howard should get the job done.
#3) Which one (explain): A) The Washington Wizards: just what the Orlando Magic, losers of four in a row, five out of seven, need. OR… B) The Orlando Magic: in such disarray that they might lose to the Washington Wizards, at home.
DREXLER: B. The Magic look really, really bad right now. I watched Orlando beat Washington a few weeks ago, and it wasn’t pretty then. Now, as things have further dismantled, I think the Wizards could steam roll them. The key is whether or not JaVale McGee decides he wants to try to stop Dwight Howard. I don’t think he necessarily can, but there isn’t anyone else who is going to hurt you on the Magic roster. Wow, it’s pretty depressing to have just typed that. One other note: Jameer Nelson and Jason Richardson are not playing in tonight’s game. I can’t imagine that hurting the Wizard chances in taking this one.
TOWNSEND: The Wizards don’t always play well at home, but they are a miserable road team. Washington has dropped seven consecutive games against the Magic, losing their last two at the Amway Center, and have put together an embarrassing 10-35 all-time record in Orlando, Fl. Remember the last meeting between these to teams? Dwight Howard surely does, having piled up 28 points and 20 rebounds. Option A.
WEIDIE: A or B is contingent on JaVale McGee having the best game he’s ever had against Dwight Howard, which wouldn’t be saying much. In 11 contests against Dwight, McGee has averaged 6.2 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 18.4 minutes. McGee has scored in double figures versus Howard just once — 10 points in 18 minutes off the bench in a 121-94 Wizards loss on April 7, 2010 — and the most rebounds he’s pulled down is seven (twice). So for the Wizards to have a chance, McGee needs to have his best game by far, and that is not something I have a ton of confidence in at this point. So I choose A, even with both Jameer Nelson and Jason Richardson reportedly out for Orlando. But if JaVale ever does put together a decent game against Howard, watch out, because it could mean him kicking the door wide open on a break through.