Friday's Magic Word | Magic Basketball

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Apr 08

Friday’s Magic Word

  • Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “With J.J. Redick injured, Jason Richardson battling some minor knee tendinitis and Quentin Richardson suspended for the next two games, the Orlando Magic will be forced to play Gilbert Arenas significant minutes at shooting guard over the last three games of the regular season. That’s a good thing, because the Magic and Arenas need all the practice they can get with Arenas at the two. Despite Arenas’ 25-point outburst while starting alongside Jameer Nelson at Charlotte on Wednesday, Arenas has been largely unproductive playing shooting guard with the Magic this season. He’s far more comfortable and effective – relatively speaking, anyway – with the ball in his hands early in possessions, when he can probe the defense and really be aggressive in trying to score the basketball. This season, according to 82games.com, Arenas’ PER while playing shooting guard is 1.9, compared to his overall Magic PER of 8.9. Both of those numbers are bad, but a PER of 1.9 is almost unfathomably awful. That poor number is mostly explained by Arenas’ absurd effective field goal percentage (.298) while playing the two, a shooting percentage so mind-numbingly low that it makes you question if Arenas can really be effective playing that position.”
  • Praise for Gilbert Arenas.
  • Evan Dunlap of SB Nation chimes in on the ever-growing MVP debate: “As it applies to the focus of this article, there are statheads and there are, well, anti-statheads. These folks, in my experience, distrust any data that refute conclusions they drew with their own eyes. The truth is more complicated than that. Basketball, like nearly everything else in life, is too complex for us to understand if we apply only one doctrine, so to speak, to our evaluation of it. If we rely too heavily on statistics, no matter how advanced or refined, we are bound to miss something; we run the same risk if we rely too heavily on what we observe. Call me naive, but I think we can all coexist as hoops fans, without calling names or inventing straw men, if we merely blend the statistical with empirical observation.”
  • Marc Stein of ESPN.com chooses Dwight Howard as the Defensive Player of the Year in his awards ballot: “Howard is the runaway DPOY no matter where you have him in your MVP thinking. His ability to keep the Magic in the top three in defensive efficiency despite the fact that he’s surrounded by suspect defenders makes this no less a rout than Blake Griffin’s ROY coronation. Doesn’t matter how long ago it was you leapt off Orlando’s bandwagon. The reasonable question now is how many times in a row Howard — who’s about to claim his third successive DPOY — plans to win this award?”
  • Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus joins John Hollinger as well as many others in the online writing and NBA analytics community in choosing Howard as the MVP this season: “Beyond that, the Magic’s issues can hardly be blamed on Howard. The question of whether he can lead a successful team should have been answered to our satisfaction with Orlando’s run to the 2009 NBA Finals and last year’s second-best record in the league during the regular season. Howard is a better player now than he was then, but with a weaker supporting cast around him. While Otis Smith‘s midseason deals for [Hedo] Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Gilbert Arenas haven’t failed per se, nor have they managed to revitalize a team that no longer has a second All-Star capable of helping Howard shoulder the load. The fleet of shooters that once feasted on the open looks created by Howard double-teams now shoots barely better than league average from beyond the arc. None of this points to Howard shortcomings.”
  • Is there a conspiracy theory with Howard’s technical fouls?
  • Writers of the TrueHoop Network submit their choices for MVP.
  • Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook previews the first round matchup in the 2011 NBA Playoffs between the Magic and the Atlanta Hawks. Needless to say, this preview is a must-read.
  • Noah Schiller of Hardwood Paroxysm says that Howard is the MVP.
  • Zach Lowe of The Point Forward: “I agree with both of these guys in that reducing the Rose/Howard/LeBron James discussion to “stat-heads versus people who watch games” is ridiculous. People would probably lump me in the stat-head boat, since I cite things like points per possession, pace and rebounding rate often, including in my reasoning for why Howard should be the MVP. Three things would be wrong with that characterization: 1) I watch and re-watch a ton of games; 2) Those stats everyone calls “advanced” are not all that advanced. Counting possessions is about as basic as math gets. Rebounding rate is a simple percentage, the sort of thing we learn before middle school. Basic on-court/off-court plus/minus is so simple an elementary school student could understand it with a few minutes of teaching. There are certainly more advanced stats out there, but few trickle that far into mainstream NBA writing; 3) If you actually read (asking a lot, I know) the cases most alleged “stat-heads”make for Howard, you’ll see they are based as much on observation as on stats.”
  • Kevin Arnovitz of The Heat Index: “An exchange of ideas generally makes the world a better place, but some of the Rose-James and Rose-Howard debates I’ve overheard and read in recent days aren’t so much a contrast of the players’ attributes as a condemnation of those doing the arguing: Do you stat geeks even watch the games and observe the results, or do you just consult your spreadsheet to draw conclusions? Meanwhile, if you listen to the extremes on the other side, you’d think Rose was putting up Arenasian numbers this season. What are we really arguing about here? If I support LeBron James for the MVP Award, what I’m essentially saying is that Rose is a dynamic talent who just happens to be the second, third or fourth best player in the world. How insulting. Rose-over-James offers the same construction. These disagreements might be contrasts in methodology, but at their very heart, they’re about taste, and taste is a very personal quality.”
  • Howard is, by far and large, the best center in the league.
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