Rashard Lewis is a power forward, trapped in a small forward’s body. No, wait, he’s a small forward trapped in the body of a power forward. No, wait, he’s combo-forward. No wait, he’s just terrible because of how much he’s paid.
All of the above have a little bit of truth to them, save the last one, because, really, come on. The others beg questions of how best to fit Lewis into an offensive and defensive system. They are also issues that Eddy Rivera discusses at a post on Magic Basketball. Rivera goes through the facts and the fiction on Rashard Lewis, including how he must play power forward due to his inability to defend small forwards, and because he’s actually adept at defending power forwards. And all of it is on target.
The problem is that offensively, he’s not a natural fit for the four, either. This isn’t to say that he’s bad as a power forward. After all, he stretches the floor well and can take several players from the face-up spot. But the wear and tear isn’t good for his declining health, and his offensive rebounding numbers are not particularly good.
So what to do with him? The ideal answer lies in new positionality, something Free Darko has been exploring for years and that Rob Mahoney has been excavating recently. The Magic need to use Lewis as a combo forward, but they need better post-play and rebounding from a low-post player as well as a wing capable of defending threes when necessary. This of course creates a domino effect where Lewis winds up guarding shooting guards, but in reality, there are actually some shooting guards he’d likely do fine on, given their limitations and the Magic’s defensive philosophies.
Furthermore, Dwight Howard allows for the Magic to do more bizarre things in their approach. His presence alone creates an area of space where the Magic can switch up how they approach both sides of the ball. They’ve already been doing it.
However, these things take great leaps of faith which is not exactly Stan Van Gundy’s cup of tea. Until they accidentally stumble on a solution, or their hand is forced by matchup issues that become recurrent, Rivera is right. Lewis is a four, now, but hopefully not forever.