Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 10

Oct 28

Great expectations for Orlando’s rookies

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

The Magic franchise is starting to form what will be its core group for the foreseeable future. A few veterans, such as Luke Ridnour and Willie Green, will be interchanged for others like them in the next few years.

But other than the occasional tinkering, there isn’t room on the roster for much more young talent. The current squad must develop for the Magic to be successful, or else they will be floundering in mediocrity for years.

As such, there is a great amount of focus being placed on Orlando’s rookies — namely Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton (sorry, Devyn Marble). Magic fans will want to see Gordon and Payton take the NBA by storm, but what’s reasonable to expect from them? How will they actually do?

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In any sports league, one thing is true surrounding the hype around drafts: they are entirely forgotten months afterward. In Payton’s case, this means you should forget about him being drafted after Gordon because he’s almost certainly going to have a bigger impact for the Magic this season.

Remember a couple of key facts about Orlando’s acquisition of Payton. Everyone knew that point guard was the most immediate need for the team, so naturally the expectation was that the No. 4 pick would be used to select Dante Exum, the highest-rated point guard in the draft. But the Magic shocked everyone by passing on Exum with the No. 4 pick and trading a future first round pick to move up two spots (from No. 12 to No. 10) and acquire Payton’s draft rights.

The takeaways? Orlando really wanted Payton. The front office felt comfortable enough to leave better-known names in Exum and Marcus Smart on the board in order to target Payton. This allowed them to draft a player with limitless potential in Gordon with the No. 4 pick, while still getting their point man later.

The trading of a future first round pick to acquire Payton tells me that the Magic are starting to put their energy into now instead of later. They are all-in on this guy. Will their faith in him be justified?

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Oct 26

Magic exercise contract options on four players

Brooklyn Nets v Orlando Magic

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The Orlando Magic have exercised their fourth-year team option on the contracts of Evan Fournier, Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson, while also exercising their third-year team option on the contract of Victor Oladipo, general manager Rob Hennigan announced today. Per team policy, terms of the deals are not disclosed. All four players are now under contract through the 2015-16 season.

Fournier (6’7”, 205, 10/29/92) played in 76 games last season with Denver, averaging 8.4 ppg., 2.7 rpg. and 1.5 apg. in 19.8 mpg., while shooting .376 (89-237) from three-point range. He was acquired from the Nuggets, along with the draft rights to Devyn Marble, in exchange for Arron Afflalo on June 26, 2014.

Originally selected by Denver in the first round (20th overall) of the 2012 NBA Draft, Fournier has appeared in 114 career NBA regular season games, all with the Nuggets, averaging 7.4 ppg., 2.1 rpg. and 1.4 apg. in 16.9 mpg., while shooting .381 (111-291) from three-point range. He also played in four career playoff outings, averaging 4.8 ppg. and 1.0 apg. in 13.3 mpg.

Harkless (6’9”, 215, 5/11/93) played in 80 games (41 starts) last season with Orlando, averaging 7.4 ppg., 3.3 rpg., 1.0 apg. and 1.21 spg. in 24.4 mpg., while shooting .383 (59-154) from three-point range. He ranked sixth in the NBA in steals-to-turnover ratio (1.13, 97/86).

Originally selected in the first round (15th overall) of the 2012 NBA Draft by Philadelphia, Harkless was acquired by Orlando as part of a four-team, 12-player trade on Aug. 10, 2012. He has appeared in 156 career NBA regular season games, all with the Magic, averaging 7.8 ppg., 3.8 rpg. and 1.19 spg. in 25.2 mpg.

Nicholson (6’9”, 250, 12/8/89) played in 76 games (five starts) last season with Orlando, averaging 5.7 ppg. and 3.4 rpg. in 15.7 mpg. Originally selected in the first round (19th overall) of the 2012 NBA Draft by Orlando, Nicholson has appeared in 151 career NBA regular season games, all with the Magic, averaging 6.8 ppg. and 3.4 rpg. in 16.0 mpg.

Oladipo (6’4”, 210, 5/4/92) played in 80 games (44 starts) during his rookie campaign last season with Orlando, averaging 13.8 ppg., 4.1 rpg., 4.1 apg. and a team-high 1.61 spg. in 31.1 mpg. He was tied for 15th in the NBA in steals. Oladipo also ranked among all NBA rookies in scoring (2nd), rebounding (T-8th), assists (3rd), FG percentage (.419, 8th), three-point FG percentage (.327, T-7th), FT percentage (.780, 6th), steals (2nd) and minutes played (3rd).

Originally selected in the first round (second overall) of the 2013 NBA Draft by Orlando, Oladipo was named to the 2013-14 NBA All-Rookie First Team. He was also named the NBA’s Rookie of the Month twice (December 2013, February 2014).

Oct 24

Magic waive four players

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The Orlando Magic have waived Kadeem Batts, Drew Crawford, Seth Curry and Peyton Siva, general manager Rob Hennigan announced today. Orlando’s roster now stands at 15 players.

Oct 24

Victor Oladipo out indefinitely due to facial fracture

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Orlando Magic press release:

Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo will be out indefinitely after suffering a facial fracture in practice Thursday, general manager Rob Hennigan announced today.

Oladipo, who was evaluated Thursday afternoon, will undergo a corrective surgical procedure on Saturday. He was injured after taking an inadvertent elbow during a practice drill.

Oladipo (6’4”, 210, 5/4/92) has not played during the preseason due to a sprained MCL in his left knee. Last season (2013-14), he played in 80 games (44 starts) during his rookie campaign with Orlando, averaging 13.8 ppg., 4.1 rpg., 4.1 apg. and a team-high 1.61 spg. in 31.1 mpg. He was tied for 15th in the NBA in steals. Oladipo also ranked among all NBA rookies in scoring (2nd), rebounding (T-8th), assists (3rd), FG percentage (.419, 8th), three-point FG percentage (.327, T-7th), FT percentage (.780, 6th), steals (2nd) and minutes played (3rd).

Originally selected in the first round (second overall) of the 2014 NBA Draft by Orlando, Oladipo was named to the 2013-14 NBA All-Rookie First Team. He was also named the NBA’s Rookie of the Month twice (December 2013, February 2014).

Oct 22

Grades: Houston Rockets 90, Orlando Magic 89

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

 

Houston Rockets 90 Final
Recap | Box Score
89 Orlando Magic

Nikola Vucevic
6-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 BLK | 6 REB | 12 PTS | 0

The newly-minted $53 million man had himself a near-flawless game against the Rockets. It helped that Houston didn’t play Dwight Howard, opting to rest him on the second night of a road back-to-back. Still, Vucevic had some impressive sequences in the first half — most notably, his one-handed putback dunk early in the first quarter. Who knew Vucevic could do that?

Maurice Harkless
4-8 FG | 2-2 3P | 1 STL | 3 REB | 11 PTS | -1

Getting the nod at shooting guard in the starting lineup for a second time in preseason, Harkless played well. He was out of control on drives to the basket a few times and got stonewalled at the rim as a result, but at least he was aggressive. The better news for Magic fans was his two made 3-pointers (one which was off the dribble, which is rare for Harkless).

Ben Gordon
5-6 FG | 1-2 3P | 0 REB | 1 AST | 11 PTS | +15

He’s not the 20-point scorer he used to be during his prime, but it’s becoming more and more obvious with each passing game (preseason disclaimer applies, of course) that Gordon has something left in the tank. Proof? He had his patented floater working to perfection (he made three of them) against Houston. That’s when you know he has it going offensively.

Andrew Nicholson
4-10 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | +8

With 35.7 seconds left and the Magic trailing 90-89, Nicholson found himself with the ball in his hands. Unfortunately for Nicholson, he made a poor decision and threw up a one-handed hook shot from the right elbow that missed badly. Given that he was well-defended by Donatas Motiejunas, Nicholson would have been better served passing the ball — there was plenty of time left on the shot clock.

Houston Rockets

For much of the night, Orlando was in firm control. In fact, the Magic had their largest lead of the night (86-73) with 4:34 left in the fourth quarter. But the Rockets answered by going on a 17-3 run — thanks to Isaiah Canaan and Nick Johnson, who combined to score 16 of those 17 points — to finish the game and steal a victory.

Oct 22

Preview: Houston Rockets at Orlando Magic

Essentials

  • Teams: Houston Rockets at Orlando Magic
  • Date: October 22, 2014
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Comcast SportsNet Houston
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Rockets: 54-28
  • Magic: 23-59

Probable starters

Rockets:

  • Patrick Beverley
  • James Harden
  • Kostas Papanikolaou
  • Terrence Jones
  • Tarik Black

Magic:

  • Luke Ridnour
  • Maurice Harkless
  • Tobias Harris
  • Kyle O’Quinn
  • Nikola Vucevic

Advanced stats

Rockets:

  • Pace: 96.3 (5th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 111.0 (4th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 106.3 (13th of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: 93.6 (15th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.7 (29th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 107.4 (17th of 30)

Read about the Rockets

Red94

Oct 22

The ramifications of Nikola Vucevic’s extension

NBA: Charlotte Bobcats at Orlando Magic

Photo by David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

According to the Orlando Sentinel’s Josh Robbins, the Orlando Magic and Nikola Vucevic have agreed to a four-year, $53 million extension.

The timing of the extension doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The Magic had until October 31 to reach an agreement with Vucevic. If not, he would’ve been a restricted free agent in the offseason, which carries its own set of risks for the Magic. But now the 7-foot center will be under contract through to 2018-19 season, as each of his four years are fully guaranteed.

While $13.25 million per year for Vucevic currently is a slight overpay under the current cap, he benefits from playing at a position of need. Vucevic has averaged double-figure rebounds over his last two seasons with the Magic, and he is one of five players currently in the NBA that has accomplished that feat (Dwight Howard, Kevin Love, Joakim Noah, and Zach Randolph being the others). Although there are some clear factors that are holding Vucevic back from being a star for now (like his defense), there are very few players who can score and rebound like he can.

To add to that, the Magic have enough room to make the finances work. They only have $36.7 million committed to their roster next season and $22.3 million the year after. The highest paid player on the roster currently, Channing Frye, will be a free agent in the summer of 2018. More importantly, though, they have their young core of Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Payton, and Aaron Gordon locked up on rookie contracts for the next few years.

Oladipo will be able to sign an extension in the summer of 2017, and Payton and Gordon will follow suit a year later. Assuming they all re-sign, Vucevic’s contract will expire as soon as theirs kicks in. That gives the Magic flexibility. They are currently in the midst of rebuilding following Dwight Howard’s departure and this gives them the opportunity to re-evaluate their roster before they extend their up-and-coming core.

By the summer of 2018, the Magic should be heading in a clear direction. The moves they make from that point on will be what decides their future. If Oladipo, Payton, and Gordon all develop into the players they are expected to be and Vucevic winds up being the final complementary piece to the group, they’ll be able to retain them all. But if that doesn’t end up being the case, they’ll be able to pick and choose who they want to keep around.

The final point to keep in mind is that the cap will rise greatly in the years to come, thanks to the new TV deal. How much it will rise remains to be seen, but the fact is that what $13.25 million gets you now will be very different to what you can get in a couple years time. Vucevic’s contract might not look great now, but it could look like a steal in a few seasons.

The luxury of being in a rebuilding phase is that rosters tend to be made up of expiring contracts and players on rookie deals. That’s exactly what the Magic are currently dealing with. Oladipo, Payton, and Gordon are expected to be the future of the franchise, in which case they’ll be able to extend each of them for the max without making moves to clear cap space, even with Vucevic signing a four-year, $53 million extension.

Vucevic is one of the few centers in the league who can do what he does on a nightly basis. That comes with a big price tag, but it’s also something the Magic can afford.

Oct 21

Nikola Vucevic gets 4-year, $53M extension

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

The Orlando Magic and the representatives for center Nik Vucevic are finalizing a contract extension that will add four years to his current deal and will run through the 2018-19 NBA season, industry sources told the Orlando Sentinel.

The deal will pay Vucevic a total of $53 million over four seasons, and the extension will not include an opt-out clause that would enable Vucevic to become a free agent before the summer of 2019.

Oct 21

Fox Sports Florida, Magic announce TV schedule

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Fox Sports Florida press release:

FOX Sports Florida and the Orlando Magic jointly announced today the team’s 2014-15 NBA regular season television broadcast schedule, featuring all 82 games broadcast exclusively on the network.

FOX Sports Florida will start the season on the road as the Magic travel to New Orleans to take on the Pelicans. Coverage will start at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 28 for viewers throughout North / Central Florida. Magic LIVE, FOX Sports Florida’s pre-and postgame show for home and away games, will provide viewers with an in-depth look at the team and storylines surrounding the squad before and after they hit the hardwood versus their opponents. The home opener on Thursday, Oct. 30 vs. the Washington Wizards will feature a special, one-hour edition of the Magic LIVE pregame show originating from Church Street.

Play-by-play announcer David Steele returns, alongside former Magic player Jeff Turner as color analyst, to provide viewers with expert commentary throughout the season. Paul Kennedy and Dante Marchitelli also return as hosts of Magic LIVE, while former Magic Head Coach Brian Hill and former Magic players Nick Anderson and Tony Battie round out the group of on-air analysts during pregame, postgame and halftime.

FOX Sports Florida’s Magic broadcasts this season will feature an exciting new addition for viewers. Kelly Nash will join the broadcast team this season as in-game reporter, as well as host of select “Inside the Magic” episodes. The popular “Inside the Magic” series returns and will feature player profiles and episodes offering behind-the-scenes access to other aspects of the team and its operations — all designed to bring the fans closer to their favorite team. There are six new episodes tentatively scheduled to air throughout the upcoming season.

Oct 20

Player Profile: Dewayne Dedmon

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Frankel’s 2014-15 per 36 projections

PPG RPG APG TS% PER ASPM
9.3 11.8 0.6 .494 10.9 -2.2

The 7-foot Dewayne Dedmon, who went undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft, spent his rookie year bouncing between three teams, eventually landing with the Magic at the end of the 2013-14 season.

Dedmon is old for a player entering his second year, turning 25 in August. He spent one season at Antelope Valley College before transferring to USC and playing two years in the Pac-12 for the Trojans. He’s so raw and his age so advanced, at least in comparison to his peers, it’s hard to envision him ever becoming a regular starter.

If he’s going to catch on as a third- or second-string center (there’s no way he’s getting many minutes at power forward behind the newly-signed Channing Frye), it has to be on the defensive side of the ball. He’s doesn’t have a consistent midrange jump shot and his post presence is non-existent.

It’s an incredibly small sample size of games to judge, but he had a tendency to drift and ball-watch defensively in his 16 appearances with Orlando last season. Dedmon got tied up on high screens, even when it was a smaller guard that was setting the pick. In the contemporary NBA, the inability of your bigs to get around screens or cut off the ballhandler (some bigs will actually bump into them — anything to knock them off their rhythm coming around the corner) represents a huge negative when you have guys like Kevin Love setting that screen, or slipping it altogether for a dash at the rim or a step-back jumper.

Dedmon struggled with very basic pick-and-roll coverages near the 3-point arc, so it’s something he’ll have to work on if he wants to take advantage of his athleticism and foot speed. He isn’t just repeatedly getting entangled in a screen, though. Watching film on him, you see he’s routinely caught out-of-position, where he’s either scrambling to get to his man, or he’s come over to help too hard, leaving his man open for an easy bucket.

He’s also got to tone down his tendency to jump at the first ball-fake. Al Jefferson — one of the best post players in the game, mind you — repeatedly abused Dedmon on the low block during their April 4 meeting last season.

Offensively, Dedmon has decent footwork on pull-up jumpers, but that’s not his game. He’s a slasher disguised as center, able to flash to the rim for alley-oops or backdoor cuts — like a longer, less-schooled Maurice Harkless.

Dedmon is long and spry, but his physical gifts haven’t been refined for the NBA yet. He only started playing organized basketball five-and-a-half years before entering the league, so the growing pains are to be expected.

Still, his footwork as the roll man on high screens is pretty decent. Opponents have to basically foul him before he can get off the floor. Once he catches that pocket pass and sets his feet anywhere near the lane, it’s just one long step for him and usually a dunk.

My guess, if he makes the regular season roster, is a spot as the 14th man behind the much-more polished games of Nikola Vucevic and the energetic Kyle O’Quinn.

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