Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 10

Mar 01

Preview: Orlando Magic at Miami Heat


  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Miami Heat
  • Date: March 1, 2014
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: AmericanAirlines Arena


  • Magic: 18-42
  • Heat: 41-14

Probable starters


  • Jameer Nelson
  • Victor Oladipo
  • Maurice Harkless
  • Tobias Harris
  • Nikola Vucevic


  • Mario Chalmers
  • Dwyane Wade
  • LeBron James
  • Shane Battier
  • Chris Bosh

Advanced stats


  • Pace: 93.8 (16th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.5 (26th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 106.9 (17th of 30)


  • Pace: 92.4 (22nd of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 111.8 (2nd of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 105.3 (12th of 30)

Read about the Heat

Heat Index

Feb 28

HoopIdea: Putting the 4-pointer into practice

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Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

The odd prospect of a 4-point shot in the NBA has many writers envisioning the scenario and wondering how teams would be affected.

The whole story is gaining more traction than it ought: it’s tough to watch this video and say the NBA president of basketball operations (Rod Thorn) isn’t smirking like a candy-covered kid during the whole thing.

But that won’t stop us from outlandish hypotheticals, will it? So how would the Magic fare if the rule changed tomorrow? Quite well, actually. I was genuinely surprised at the statistics I found for them at long, long range.

While I don’t know exactly where a 4-point line would be put in reality, I’ve been seeing a lot of people throw out 28 feet, almost five feet behind the 3-point line. A search for shots taken from 28-35 feet this season produces some interesting information in favor of Orlando.

Out of the whole NBA, Jameer Nelson is tied for fourth in field goals made. He has eight. The Magic are one of only two teams (Houston) with three players to make multiple shots: Nelson, Victor Oladipo (two) and Arron Afflalo (two). And they are shooting a solid 43.3 percent as a team (13-for-30). It’s obviously a tiny sample size, but 43.3 percent from that distance, even out of only 30 shots, is pretty impressive.

I can’t imagine many coaches drawing up plays for 4-point shots other than in late-game situations, but guess who would be the most prolific testers of the heave? Those young, experimenting teams looking to grow. Teams like Orlando. In such a scenario, they might even be the pioneers for a radical shift in the game.

You wouldn’t have Gregg Popovich letting the Spurs launch 4-point bombs whenever they wanted. Most teams would probably be very tentative incorporating it into their game plans.

But a team like the Magic, whose immediate goal is not necessarily to win every game, would be more willing to try it out. Essentially, they would test the worth of the shot for the rest of the league.

The only other question would be the exact range for the shot. Would there be a league-wide expansion of the court, as Thorn also alluded to, so another arc could fit neatly behind the 3-point one? Would shots be worth more in designated areas, like the Harlem Globetrotters have been trying out for a few years? Now that one would be fun: just imagine a team down four points at the end of the game going to the 4-point circle and facing a wall of five players in front of it!

Or would four points be awarded only for half-court shots? In that case, would the backcourt violation have to be reevaluated? And would big men become go-to players, since they’re stronger and can shoot that distance with less effort?

Who knows? You can (almost) never say never, but I would be absolutely shocked if we ever saw a shot like this cross into reality. There would be bricks flying all over the place, and the game would never be the same.

It could happen, but it won’t.

But it could.

Feb 27

Thursday’s Magic Word

  • The latest 2014 NBA mock draft from Sports Illustrated.
  • Watch Victor Oladipo block Thaddeus Young’s duck attempt in the Magic’s 101-90 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday.
  • Orlando will not be participating in the league’s Noche Latina program this season. The Magic had been involved the previous two seasons.
  • Oladipo has had a number of amazing blocks this season. Which one of them stands out the most?
  • Should Orlando pursue Jimmer Fredette? He and the Sacramento Kings finalized a buyout agreement today.
  • Could a phone call by Horace Grant persuaded Shaquille O’Neal to stay in Orlando when he became a free agent in 1996? Grant wonders aloud to Bill Simmons on the B.S. Report during All-Star weekend in New Orleans.

Feb 27

Video: Victor Oladipo hits the shot clock

Feb 27

Grades: Orlando Magic 101, Philadelphia 76ers 90

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Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images


Orlando Magic 101 Final
Recap | Box Score
90 Philadelphia 76ers

Nikola Vucevic
9-19 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 BLK | 13 REB | 21 PTS | +5

Considering that Vucevic was playing against an undersized and outmatched Sixers frontcourt (Henry Sims? Byron Mullens?), he probably should have had a 20-20 game. There were times when Philadelphia made Vucevic look like Moses Malone out there. But 21-13-3 ain’t too shabby. Vucevic scored exclusively at the rim (9-for-14) thanks to his size advantage — mostly from pick-and-rolls and offensive rebound putbacks.

Victor Oladipo
7-16 FG | 2-5 3P | 11 REB | 3 AST | 17 PTS | +9

Facing off against Michael Carter-Williams, the favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award, for a third time this season, Oladipo won this round. He was sloppy with his ballhandling and passing, as exhibited by his seven turnovers (the most he’s had in a game in over a month), but he did pick up a double-double along the way.

Jameer Nelson
7-16 FG | 2-6 3P | 6 REB | 12 AST | 16 PTS | +19

Entering tonight’s contest, Nelson was averaging 7.2 points, 7.4 assists, and 2.9 rebounds per game in the month of February. His 11.5 PER during that timeframe was in replacement level territory. To say that Nelson needed a game like this (16-12-6 with zero turnovers) to remind everyone that he still can be a productive player would be an understatement.

Maurice Harkless
5-14 FG | 3-4 3P | 2 BLK | 3 REB | 13 PTS | -1

Perhaps one of the most compelling subplots to emerge for the Magic has been Harkless developing into a good 3-point shooter. He shot 3-for-4 beyond the arc against the Sixers, which means his percentage is now up to 38.5 percent this season (37-for-96). That has to be an encouraging sign for Orlando. Harkless could very well be budding into a legitimate 3-and-D player.

Philadelphia 76ers

By trading Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner at the deadline, Philadelphia has made their intentions clear. They’re going to tank the rest of the season. Need proof? The Sixers not only lost their 12th game in a row, but they allowed the Magic to snap their 16-game road losing streak in the process. You have to hand it to GM Sam Hinkie. He has no shame.

Feb 26

Preview: Orlando Magic at Philadelphia 76ers


  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Philadelphia 76ers
  • Date: February 26, 2014
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Wells Fargo Center


  • Magic: 17-42
  • Sixers: 15-42

Probable starters


  • Jameer Nelson
  • Victor Oladipo
  • Maurice Harkless
  • Tobias Harris
  • Nikola Vucevic


  • Michael Carter-Williams
  • James Anderson
  • Hollis Thompson
  • Thaddeus Young
  • Henry Sims

Advanced stats


  • Pace: 93.7 (17th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.5 (27th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 107.1 (17th of 30)


  • Pace: 100.1 (1st of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 99.0 (30th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 109.6 (28th of 30)

Read about the Sixers


Feb 26

Prospect Profile: Andrew Wiggins

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Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Wiggins’ 2013-14 stats at Kansas

16.3 5.8 1.6 56.2 21.0

Andrew Wiggins was the presumptive top pick going into his freshman year at Kansas, but in what is becoming a yearly tradition with one-and-done prospects, he hasn’t lived up to the hype. Worse yet, he’s been overshadowed by his own teammate Joel Embiid.

But he’s slowly rounded into form throughout the second half of the season and still looks like a top-three pick. The athletic small forward would be a very nice draft choice for the Magic, giving them a prototypical star to build the franchise around.

It’s unclear how committed the Magic are to having Victor Oladipo at point guard, and many questions of fit eventually come down to that. If the point guard experiment works with Oladipo, they can move Arron Afflalo to the shooting guard position and slot Wiggins in at the three. If not, then there could be a bit of a positional crunch. Afflalo has shown that he’s far more than a bench player, and would likely have to be dealt in that scenario.

Wiggins is also enticing as an occasional small-ball four. Tobias Harris has thrived since becoming a full-time power forward, but he doesn’t play every minute at that position and the Magic aren’t married to him.

Wiggins has struggled shooting the ball this season, but has still put up high point totals. A third of his shots have been 2-point jumpers, and he’s only shot 34 percent on those shots, but his .562 True Shooting percentage still ranks as above-average.

Historically though, True Shooting percentage reveals only a little about what type of player a prospect will be. For wings at least, 3-pointers are a more important indicator. Wiggins has shot a solid, if not great, 36 percent from behind the arc and shoots them at a healthy rate — nearly half as often as he shoots 2s.

He doesn’t come out quite as well in defensive statistics as his athleticism would indicate, but he isn’t a flop by any means. Block rate and steal rate are surprisingly significant indicators for wings — the theory goes that they are proxies for athleticism and activity — and Wiggins rates about average in blocks (2.7 percent) and steals (1.9 percent) for wings in my seven-year database of draft prospects.

The data alone indicate Wiggins is a top-three prospect, but what makes his potential higher than the numbers can show is his athleticism. It’s that athleticism that’s invited Tracy McGrady comparisons. He hasn’t fully displayed his athletic ability in college, but it’s unclear how much that matters.

He’s eerily similar to one-time top draft prospect Harrison Barnes in some ways. Barnes looked like the perfect NBA wing player coming out of high school, but he failed to produce in college and thus far has yet to produce in the NBA, either. Wiggins has put up far better college numbers in his freshman campaign than Barnes put up as a sophomore at North Carolina. But Wiggins has displayed the occasional complacent behavior that plagued Barnes at UNC.

On the flipside is Andre Drummond. At UConn, he was plagued by the same questions about his aggressiveness as Barnes and Wiggins, yet he’s made those questions look like lunacy in the NBA. There’s merit to the theory that Drummond’s dynamic pick-and-roll skills just didn’t fit the slow and cramped college game.

Could Wiggins blossom when exposed to NBA spacing and more opportunities in the pick-and-roll? It’s a question that won’t be answered for quite a while, and one the Magic will have to consider if he sits on the board when they’re ready to pick.

The numbers are average for a top-three pick and the Magic will have to decide if they want to bank on Wiggins’ upside. If they decide they want to, there’s a good chance they get a franchise building block out of it.

Feb 26

Grades: Washington Wizards 115, Orlando Magic 106

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Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images


Washington Wizards 115 Final
Recap | Box Score
106 Orlando Magic

Nikola Vucevic
9-14 FG | 3-4 FT | 14 REB | 2 AST | 19 PTS | +1

Vucevic may average a double-double on a nightly basis, but his defense leaves much to be desired sometimes. Case in point: Gortat roasted Vucevic on the left block in the first half. When you make someone like Gortat, who’s a good player but is by no means a low post savant, look like Hakeem Olajuwon when he’s posting up, there’s something wrong.

Victor Oladipo
10-20 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 26 PTS | -9

This was one of those rare games where Oladipo did most of his damage offensively with his jump shot. And a majority of the jumpers that he made were in pick-and-roll sets with Vucevic, all from midrange. They’re the type of shots that Oladipo will need to be able to make with consistency if he wants to continue getting better.

Maurice Harkless
9-13 FG | 2-6 3P | 5 REB | 1 AST | 22 PTS | -4

This was Harkless’ best game of the 2013-14 season. He tied a season-high with 22 points and he did it by being decisive when the basketball was in his hands. His spin move and reverse layup finish on Gortat late in the second quarter was incredibly impressive. It was a perfect example of the type of aggressiveness Harkless displayed throughout the night.

Kyle O’Quinn
4-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | -8

It’s hard to believe that O’Quinn was once not a part of Jacque Vaughn’s rotation, but that was the case in the first half of the regular season. Against the Wizards, O’Quinn was one rebound shy of a double-double despite playing just 21 minutes. You almost have to wonder if his emergence as a reliable back-up big expedited Glen Davis’ exit from Orlando.

Washington Wizards

The four-headed monster of Wall (27 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds), Beal (21 points), Ariza (22 points), and Gortat (21 points, 10 rebounds) won this game for Washington. They combined to score 91 of the Wizards’ 115 points. And each of them were effective in different areas of the court. Beal from midrange, Ariza from the 3-point line, and Gortat in the paint. Wall? He was effective everywhere.

Feb 26

Video: Maurice Harkless with the reverse layup

Feb 25

Preview: Orlando Magic at Washington Wizards


  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Washington Wizards
  • Date: February 25, 2014
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Verizon Center


  • Magic: 17-41
  • Wizards: 28-28

Probable starters


  • Jameer Nelson
  • Victor Oladipo
  • Maurice Harkless
  • Tobias Harris
  • Nikola Vucevic


  • John Wall
  • Bradley Beal
  • Trevor Ariza
  • Trevor Booker
  • Marcin Gortat

Advanced stats


  • Pace: 93.7 (16th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.3 (27th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 106.8 (17th of 30)


  • Pace: 93.5 (18th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 104.4 (21st of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 104.2 (8th of 30)

Read about the Wizards

Truth About It

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