Ever since all-star center Dwight Howard announced his trade request before the season, things have seemed a little different with the Orlando Magic. A team that was once built on a consistent high level of energy has failed to match that much of this season. Thursday night’s game in Atlanta was more proof of that.
The Magic have the capability to be one of the top teams in the NBA. When at their best, they can play with anyone which has been proven at times this season. But they seem to be unable to keep up the energy necessary to achieve such success. Normally a failure to play at a certain level falls at the feet of the head coach but for Orlando, the blame sits with the star player.
The Magic offense is built around a dominating center and three-point shooting. When Dwight Howard is on the court, usually the other four players are situated around the perimeter. So without the all-star down low, the team is unlikely to have much success. With Howard sticking to his trade request, he has announced his decision to quit on his team. So what affect does that have on the players?
The Magic players certainly know how this team is built. They understand that without Howard, success for the team is highly unlikely. In order for the Magic to have success this season, they need every player to buy into the system and to play for one another. With the star and captain of team having quit on his team, it’s unrealistic to expect the rest of the team not to follow.
Another issue, and possibly a bigger one, is the fact that none of the players know where they will be playing in the coming weeks. When Howard is traded, the entire team will be affected. Many speculate that Howard will be traded to New Jersey. That would mean that the Magic would enter a rebuilding phase that would begin the exit of several main players such as Ryan Anderson, Hedo Turkoglu, and Jason Richardson. With these players not knowing where they will be playing in the coming weeks, it’s hard to get all of them to keep their full concentration on their current team.
After Thursday night’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks, head coach Stan Van Gundy talked about how the team’s problem this season has been that they have been unable to bring the same amount of necessary energy each night. That fault lies at the feet of Howard. If Howard were to commit to his team and his teammates, they would commit to him. With Howard having quit on his team, his teammates’ commitment is not at the level it needs to be.