Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 10

May 21

3-on-3: Who should be the No. 4 pick?

7. Dante EXUM (Australia)

Photo by fiba.com/2013 FIBA U19 World Championship

Who’s the best player available for the Orlando Magic in the 2014 draft? Our experts weigh in on overall game, upside, and who the Magic should ultimately choose with the No. 4 pick.

1. Who’s the fourth-best player in the 2014 draft?

Jacob Frankel: Dante Exum. Embiid, Wiggins, and Parker are the obvious 1-2-3 picks in some order. There’s basically no tape or stats available on Exum, but credible sources love him, so he seems like the consensus fourth-best pick.

Scott Rafferty: Julius Randle. While there are some legitimate concerns about his game — many believe he is undersized for an NBA power forward and that his “bully ball” style won’t translate all that well to the next level — Randle is the fourth-best player in the draft. He has the skills to make an immediate impact in the league and is one of the more polished scorers in the lottery.

Tim Sartori: Dante Exum. At 6-foot-6 with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, he has the height and length to be a combo guard from the moment he enters the league. He has an incredibly quick first step, a great handle, and is a fantastic playmaker. To me, he is on a tier only slightly below the top three (Wiggins, Embiid, Parker) likely to be picked ahead of him.

2. Which player has the best upside at No. 4?

Frankel: I’ll go with a split here between Noah Vonleh and Aaron Gordon. Both are super-athletic power forwards. Gordon has the potential to be a terror on defense, while Vonleh is already shooting 3-pointers and could be an evolutionary Chris Bosh.

Rafferty: Dante Exum. It’s hard not to fall in love with Dante Exum’s potential. He’s a 6-foot-6 point guard with lighting-quick speed and, most importantly, he knows how to put those skills to good use. However, unlike Parker, Wiggins, and Embiid, there isn’t a big body of work to base that on and for that reason, Exum isn’t a surefire hit.

Sartori: It’s a toss-up between Dante Exum and Noah Vonleh. Exum is obvious, for the aforementioned reasons — height and length at his position, scoring abilities, etc. Vonleh, however, has an NBA body at 6-foot-10, 250 pounds, and a 7-foot-4 wingspan! He’s a great rebounder who has showed to have some promising tools offensively, and is only 18 years old.

3. Who should the Magic select at No. 4?

Frankel: Dante Exum. Reports coming from Chad Ford and others say the Magic want a point guard, so Exum should be the guy. Neither Exum nor Oladipo is a pure point guard, so they can share the duties together, making a frightening backcourt. Exum is 6-foot-6 and super explosive, and Oladipo is already an impact defensive player. The two together in the backcourt would be suffocating.

Rafferty: Dante Exum. Exum has the talent to be a top-three pick and where he winds up may come down to how he performs in workouts and interviews leading up to the draft. He’ll likely be on the board when the Magic get their shot and if that’s the case, he’d be a great fit in the backcourt with Victor Oladipo.

Sartori: Dante Exum. Picking Exum means he and Oladipo would be able to share ballhandling duties, and the Magic have a backcourt for the future with as much potential as any other in the league.

May 20

Magic get No. 4, No. 12 picks in 2014 NBA Draft

2012 NBA Draft Lottery

Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Via John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com:

The Orlando Magic have become so synonymous with having tremendous luck at the NBA Draft Lottery through the years that when their name wasn’t announced Tuesday night as winners of the top pick it came as somewhat of a surprise to those at the NBA Studios.

Instead, the Magic will now have to rely on the draft being what most experts consider to be an extremely deep pool of talent.

Orlando emerged from the NBA Draft Lottery with the fourth pick in the June 26 NBA Draft, something that was nearly in line with the odds entering the draft. The Magic entered the night with the third-best odds to win the first pick by virtue of their 23-59 record this past season. [...]

Orlando also has the 12th pick – compensation from the 2012 trading of Dwight Howard – to give them a second lottery pick with which it can add to the roster.

May 19

Magic, BayHawks enter single-affiliation partnership

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Photo by Orlando Magic

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The Orlando Magic, Erie BayHawks, and the NBA Development League today announced that the Magic and BayHawks have entered into a three-year single affiliation partnership beginning with the 2014-15 NBA D-League season. Orlando becomes the record 16th NBA team to have a one-to-one affiliation with an NBA D-League team.

The partnership, also referred to as a “hybrid affiliation,” is the eighth of its kind in the NBA D-League and allows an NBA team to control the NBA D-League team’s basketball operations, while the existing local ownership maintains primary responsibility for the team’s off-the-court business operations and community initiatives.

“We are looking forward to a mutually beneficial partnership with the BayHawks,” said Orlando Magic chief executive officer Alex Martins. “We feel this hybrid relationship will further assist our efforts in regards to developing NBA talent, while providing Erie with a team they can be proud of. I would like to thank Steve Demetriou. His vision and values fit very well with ours and we are excited about this exclusive affiliation.”

The BayHawks, which just finished its sixth NBA D-League season in Erie, have previously been affiliated with the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors and have produced four NBA D-League All-Stars and developed 11 players who earned GATORADE Call-Ups to the NBA. Additionally, the BayHawks have welcomed 15 NBA players on assignment, including Jeremy Lin of the Houston Rockets and Danny Green of the San Antonio Spurs.

“We’re thrilled to have the Orlando Magic as our new NBA affiliate,” said Erie BayHawks majority owner Steve Demetriou. “I’ve enjoyed getting to know Alex Martins and other members of the Magic management team, and we are extremely excited to join forces with this first class organization. The Magic are aligned with our goals of providing an outstanding product on and off the court that our fans, corporate partners and the Erie community can continue to be proud of.”

The NBA D-League, entering its 14th season for 2014-15, saw a record 36 players earn 49 call-ups during the 2013-14 campaign. An all-time high 33 percent of all NBA players (149) on 2013-14 NBA end-of-season rosters now boast NBA D-League experience, including two members of the Magic. A record 62 NBA players honed their skills on assignment in the NBA D-League last season, while the league reached record totals in attendance drawing over five percent more fans than the previous year. For the fifth consecutive year, the league reached the one million fan plateau.

“The Magic’s partnership with the BayHawks is yet another example of the increasing significance of the NBA D-League to NBA teams, as more than half of all NBA teams have now invested in an exclusive NBA D-League affiliate” said Dan Reed, NBA D-League President. “The BayHawks and Magic are two excellent organizations with outstanding leadership, and I know they will be great partners.”

The Magic become the eighth NBA team to enter into a hybrid affiliation with an NBA D-League team for the 2014-15 season, joining the Boston Celtics (Maine Red Claws), Detroit Pistons (Grand Rapids NBA D-League Team), Houston Rockets (Rio Grande Valley Vipers), Memphis Grizzlies (Iowa Energy), Miami Heat (Sioux Falls Skyforce), Phoenix Suns (Bakersfield Jam) and Sacramento Kings (Reno Bighorns). Seven additional NBA teams will own and operate their NBA D-League affiliates for the 2014-15 season: Cleveland Cavaliers (Canton Charge), Golden State Warriors (Santa Cruz Warriors), Los Angeles Lakers (L.A. D-Fenders), New York Knicks (Westchester NBA D-League Team), Oklahoma City Thunder (Tulsa 66ers), Philadelphia 76ers (Delaware 87ers) and San Antonio Spurs (Austin Toros). Additionally, the Dallas Mavericks have a single affiliation with the Texas Legends by way of Mavericks’ General Manager Donnie Nelson’s ownership of the Legends.

May 19

Revisiting Oladipo’s point guard development

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Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

In February, after everyone had witnessed Victor Oladipo’s steady development as a point guard in the first few months of his rookie season, Jacque Vaughn said that ‘Dipo may remain a combo guard further into his career.

Oladipo-at-point guard was an experiment in having him as a primary ballhandler, something that wasn’t really his main role during his three years in college at Indiana. It’s fair to say that the experiment was a success, with him finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting after a solid season.

Offensively, Oladipo was most successful in isolation. For ‘Dipo, 45.6 percent of his isolations finished in a score for the Magic and 0.93 points per possession (44th in the NBA) were generated in those situations, per Synergy Sports.

He showed good composure in isolation plays, often using his generally superior strength and speed over other point guards to his advantage. However, he settled for long jump shots a bit too often, or at least not in the right circumstances.

He wasn’t terrible from midrange and behind the 3-point line, with his percentages of 38.1 percent and 32.7 percent respectively both hovering either around or a little below the league average (for further info, here is his shot chart for the season). However, it wasn’t the volume of shots from these areas that caused problems, rather the situation.

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May 05

Oladipo finishes second in Rookie of the Year voting

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Via NBA press release:

Michael Carter-Williams of the Philadelphia 76ers is the recipient of the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy as the 2013-14 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year, the NBA announced today. Carter-Williams, who became only the third rookie since 1950-51 to lead all rookies in scoring, rebounding and assists, received 104 of a possible 124 first-place votes from a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada, finishing with 569 points.

The Orlando Magic’s Victor Oladipo finished second with 364 points (16 first-place votes) and Trey Burke of the Utah Jazz finished third with 96 points (one first place vote). Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote.

Carter-Williams averaged 16.7 points, 6.3 assists and 6.2 rebounds, joining Oscar Robertson (1960-61) and Alvan Adams (1975-76) as the only players since 1950-51 to pace all rookies in those three categories. He also joined Robertson and Magic Johnson as the only rookies in NBA history to average at least 16.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists. Carter-Williams also led all rookies in steals (1.86 spg, sixth in NBA).

Selected by the 76ers with the 11th overall pick of the 2013 NBA Draft, Carter-Williams was named NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played Oct. 29-Nov. 3, joining Shaquille O’Neal as the only rookies in history to capture NBA Player of the Week honors to begin their careers. Carter-Williams went on to earn Kia NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month honors in October/November, January, March and April. He tallied 17 double-doubles and two triple-doubles on the season, while scoring at least 20 points in 25 contests.

To view the media voting results, click here.

May 02

Magic extend contracts of Hennigan, Vaughn

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Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The Orlando Magic have exercised their fourth-year team option and extended the contracts of general manager Rob Hennigan and head coach Jacque Vaughn, chief executive officer Alex Martins announced today. Both contracts have been extended through the 2015-16 season. Per team policy, terms of the deal are not disclosed.

“Rob (Hennigan) and Jacque (Vaughn) have worked extremely hard in establishing a culture which embodies teamwork, hard work, hunger for success and humility,” said Martins. “With their strategic direction and leadership, we feel we are headed in the right direction, which will allow us to achieve our goals of contending in a long-term, sustainable fashion.”

Hennigan was named general manager of the Magic on June 20, 2012. He is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the team’s basketball operations, including day-to-day business, roster management and development, player acquisitions, salary cap management, analytical systems, and process development throughout the department. Hennigan spent the previous four seasons (2008-12) with Oklahoma City, including his last two seasons as the Thunder’s assistant general manager/player personnel.

Vaughn became the tenth head coach in Orlando Magic history on July 27, 2012. He is the second-youngest head coach in the NBA. Prior to joining the Magic, Vaughn spent two seasons (2010-12) as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs. He played 12 years in the NBA from 1997-2009, including 80 games with Orlando in 2002-03. Vaughn was a member of the San Antonio Spurs 2006-07 NBA Championship team.

Apr 29

Orlando Magic statement on Donald Sterling

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The Orlando Magic feel the recent reprehensible comments by Donald Sterling were absolutely unacceptable and do not reflect the values and beliefs of our organization or our league. We applaud the leadership of NBA commissioner Adam Silver, as well as head coach Doc Rivers and his players, who are at the epicenter of the situation.

Apr 25

From Denver and New York with love

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Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Two years ago, acquiring a 2014 first round pick from the Denver Nuggets probably caused Magic fans to shrug and think, “Neat,” if they even noticed it at all in the chaos of Dwight Howard’s exit. The Magic were promised a first round selection in the 2014 NBA Draft from the worst of the two first round picks between Denver and New York, who had themselves given up the pick long ago for Carmelo Anthony.

What would ensue seemed predictable: Denver and New York would end up getting knocked out in the playoffs, and Orlando would end up with a pick somewhere in the upper teens or 20s.

Then, after last year, the Magic fanbase would have felt even more disinterested. The Knicks were back. They finished with the second-best record in the East — their 54 wins were the most in 16 years. Meanwhile, the Nuggets were a Western Conference juggernaut, finishing with the third-best record in the conference. The Magic’s pick felt securely locked in the 20s. Surely, the Knicks and Nuggets couldn’t fall off much from where they were last season.

This year came and went, and nothing unfolded predictably.

Denver, after capturing the No. 3 seed in the West last year, failed to make the playoffs this time around, struggling under a new head coach. It had been over a decade since the Nuggets weren’t part of the NBA postseason party.

Denver’s struggles might not have mattered if New York had ended up anywhere in the ballpark of last year’s success. But no: the Knicks spent most of the year grossly underachieving and getting all kinds of circus-like media attention centered around Mike Woodson’s handle of the team, Carmelo’s future, and the hiring of Phil Jackson upstairs. None of that attention translated into wins, however, and the Knicks too fell short of the playoffs even in an unusually weak conference.

(As a side note, Orlando won the battle for .500 with the Knicks handily.)

Let’s return to the Magic. Most of its future hope centered around a likely top-five pick in the 2014 draft. The other pick shouldn’t have been as exciting as it is now. The team might have drafted in the 20s somewhere, and the hope would have been for someone to just make the roster and be good enough to actually play.

Now, there are two lottery picks. The second one will likely find a Rodney Hood or Doug McDermott available. Both are excellent shooters, a role of need for the team. The already-exciting draft is now perhaps the most anticipated one in Magic history. And all of this is from the surprising mediocrity of two distant teams.

As luck, or divine intervention, or the prophetic mind of Rob Hennigan would have it, the Orlando rebuild is going to take a leap forward with these two lottery picks in June.

Someone needs to pay the lottery ping pong ball cleaners a lot more money. By the time they start bouncing around in front of the eager eyes of team executives on May 20, you’ll never be able to tell how much blood, sweat, and tears had soaked them right up until the last minute.

Apr 24

Magic fully investing in D-League

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Photo by Erie BayHawks

According to a report from Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, the Orlando Magic will be acquiring the Erie Bayhawks of the D-League and entering an exclusive partnership with them.

The Orlando Magic plan to enter a single-affiliation hybrid relationship with the NBA Development League’s Erie BayHawks, people familiar with news told USA TODAY Sports. They requested anonymity because the deal has not been finalized.

An official announcement is not expected until late May as the parties finalize details. The Magic will run basketball ops and the ownership will handle business operations and community relations.

The BayHawks were formerly affiliated with the New York Knicks, but with the Knicks forming their own D-League team, the Magic pounced on the opportunity to acquire a D-League team for themselves.

The benefits of a D-League team are enormous. When Andrew Nicholson was struggling to get playing time in his sophomore season while Glen Davis was around, he could’ve been sent to the D-League to get game minutes. It also could have helped to rebuild his confidence, which was shot to hell during the season, with a few 20-point games.

Kyle O’Quinn proved in his second year in the NBA that he’s a really good player. He possibly could have been even better if he had played more than 638 minutes in his rookie season. Stuck behind more experienced players in the rotation, he could have gone to a D-League team to get real game minutes and potentially develop quicker.

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Apr 23

Video: Victor Oladipo’s top 10 plays in 2013-14

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