It seems like just yesterday when the Magic were fresh off of signing Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady and had their future set for years to come. Now, the team no longer depends on either of the players and are fresh off of another rebuilding year.
The superstar on the Magic, and the future, is Dwight Howard. Howard is a monster in the post and looks to be the next best big man in the league. Howard has averaged a double-double in his first two seasons in the league, and took the next step last season by showing that he could be a reliable scoring option in addition as a good rebounder. The expectations for him coming into this season are nothing short than at the minimum 20 points and 12 rebounds a game, and he should have no problem reaching these numbers.
Next to Howard will be former Piston Darko Milicic. Darko has however to play a season with consistent minutes, but should get his chance in 2006. His play in Europe has excited management and fans alike, but Darko will have to prove that he can perform in the NBA for the Magic to establish themselves as a playoff contender.
At the guard locaiongs are young players Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick. Redick is a rookie who has to prove that he can do more than just shoot the three pointer, as his one-dimensional play in college was a reason why he wasn’t drafted higher despite averaging over thirty points a game. Nelson is a quick, small guard who can explode for points and impressed the sports nation in his second year in the league last season.
At the small forward position is Hedo Turkoglu. He averaged 14.9 points per game last season, and should be good for the same amount once again this year. He is also a veteran player who should be able to mentor fellow European player Darko Milicic.
Besides their starters, Carlos Arroyo is another player acquired from the Pistons who could have a good impact on the team. Arroyo is a good point guard who can make substantial passes and get other teammates involved.
For the Magic to be successful in 2006, both Dwight Howard and Darko must explode onto the NBA scene and form a duo ala Tim Duncan and David Robinson. While that may happen someday, it probably will not this year. But the future is bright in Orlando.