By: Isaac Zhang
As the buzzer rang on the 88-85 loss of the Magic to the Hawks, Dwight Howard could be satisfied with his night. 29 points, 17 rebounds, 64% shooting and a +6 efficiency. And yet, it still wasn’t enough, once again. While Dwight was excellent in the game, the rest of the team managed to shoot an ungodly 35% from the field, and shoot a ridiculous 9% from the three point line.
Thats not even pathetic, its just extremely depressing now. Not only is the rest of the team failing to mount anything close to an effort against the Hawks, but they’re getting pummeled. The margins of the game are so close (3.5 over the last 2 losses) that if Hedo, Gilbert, J-Rich and Bass even tried a little bit harder, the Magic would have won the last 2 and instead by the owners of the commanding 3-1 series lead.
Instead, we’re seeing history repeating itself again. You want to know why teams with exceptional players like Dominique Wilkins, Vince Carter, Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki failed to win titles? They got far too comfortable with a player who guaranteed 40-45 wins a year as long as their supporting cast was decent, but beyond that, they never gave those guys a solid All-Star who supported them year after year after year. You really want to know why Jordan, Kobe and Duncan are the most successful stars of the past 20 years? Because they had solid supporting casts that knew their place. Jordan had Pippen, Kukoc and Rodman, Kobe had Shaq, Gasol and Fisher, while Timmy D had the Admiral, Manu, TP and Bowen. Those guys had a front office that knew the advantages and disadvantages of their stars, and built around that.
And now we have our most recent test case here in Orlando. Dwight certainly is a superstar, a guaranteed 4o wins every year, as well as the fact that he’s the best center in the league as of today. He certainly has advantages (constant commander of double teams, voracious rebounder on both glasses, uber-elite defensive presence) and disadvantages (vulnerable to Hack-A-Shaq strategy, turnover prone, foul prone) and Otis Smith should know to surround Dwight with players that can complement his playing style, and that cast that he has assembled is good in its own standard, but Smith rolled the dice on Gilbert Arenas, a proven loser who can’t make shots without rhythm flowing for him, and dumped all his youngsters (Courtney Lee, Gortat) for old vets that are running on last wheels (Carter, Turk, Arenas). This can’t work. Either rebuild and start tanking for picks to rebuild around Dwight with, or make something happen with the pieces you already have.