Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 130

Dec 01

Dwight Howard and the Clippers

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Via D.J. Foster of ClipperBlog:

Get ready to give up one thing almost definitely: Chris Kaman and his 12.7 million dollar expiring contract. New Orleans or Orlando will want the cap room, and Kaman is the only current contract big enough to make the salaries match. DeAndre [Jordan] might get close, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Be ready to give up this as well: Minnesota’s 2012 unprotected first round pick. If Carmelo Anthony took a first round pick and two second rounders, you can pretty much kiss Minnesota’s pick goodbye in any blockbuster trade. I’ll have to double-check this, but the Clippers should be unable to trade their own 2013 first round pick due to the Stepien Rule. Since Boston holds the rights to the Clippers 2012 pick (top 10 protected), the Clippers shouldn’t be able to deal away their 2013 selection since that would make back-to-back years with traded first rounders. The soonest available first round pick of their own available for trade should be their 2014 pick. It’s also worth noting that the Clippers have traded (with strict stipulations) their second round picks until 2017. Long story short: That Minnesota pick would have to be gone.

Now for the Dwight Howard-to-Los Angeles rumors. And we’re not talking about the Lakers.

Chris Broussard of reported on Monday that the Los Angeles Clippers are willing to do whatever it takes to acquire Howard (and Chris Paul for that matter). The lone stipulation is that the Clippers won’t trade Blake Griffin to make room for Howard. And that makes sense, given that for Los Angeles to be an attractive destination for Howard, Griffin needs to be on the roster.

Casual fans may scoff at the idea that Howard would consider the Clippers, given that they are the red-headed stepchild of the Lakers and that, you know, they’re the Clippers. But let’s not get it twisted. Griffin is a game-changer. The problem is that Donald Sterling is the owner. Sterling is notorious for not only being cheap (caring more about earning a profit than winning) but also for allegedly being racist towards players.

As tantalizing a trade package involving a likely top-five pick in a loaded 2012 NBA Draft may be, not to mention acquiring a young blossoming player like Eric Gordon among other assets, it comes down to whether or not Howard would be willing to commit long-term to Los Angeles despite the Sterling factor. Sure, general manager Otis Smith could trade Howard to the Clippers regardless if he commits to them or not.

However, it would ultimately fall on Los Angeles to make the decision to risk trading for Howard without a guarantee he re-signs. If the Clippers decide to take that chance (like the Nets did with Deron Williams), then Smith would have a trade partner. More importantly, with news of New Jersey’s interest in Howard, Smith also would have leverage and the ability to drive up the price for the big fella in a trade. And needless to say, if the Orlando Magic make the choice to trade Howard away, ownership needs to make sure that they get as much in return as possible.

The last thing the franchise needs is a repeat of 1996.

Dec 01

The enigma that is Jameer Nelson

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

When I think of Jameer Nelson, I think of inconsistency. I think of a player that’s the very definition of that word.

Nelson has spent seven seasons in the NBA carving out a niche as a maddeningly inconsistent player that teases you with pure brilliance. Sometimes that brilliance lasts for one game. Or five games. Or 10 games. And when you see what Nelson is fully capable of, you get infatuated with his abilities.

At his best, Nelson is aggressive in looking for his own shot in pick-and-rolls while simultaneously fulfilling playmaking duties as a point guard. It’s a delicate balance that Nelson tries to find on a game-to-game basis and because equilibrium is remarkably hard to achieve (with Chris Paul serving as the model of consistency and excellence), it’s easy to see why he’s inconsistent. 

But at the same time, because Nelson — at this stage in his career — already knows what it takes to reach his potential, it boggles the mind that he continues to suffer with bouts of inconsistency. It’s been seven years! You’d imagine that Nelson would have figured it out by now. But Nelson hasn’t, and perhaps he never will.

Which makes looking back at Nelson’s All-Star season in 2009 a depressing exercise because that’s when you thought he had his “aha!” moment. That’s when you thought Nelson had truly figured it out.

First, let’s set the stage.

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Aug 18

Remembering Game 2 of the 2009 NBA Finals

Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Game 2 of the 2009 NBA Finals is hard to watch for many reasons. It was a loss, for one thing. But far more painful is the memory of a confident, exciting group of guys who did a lot of things right. I would not go so far as to call the Magic in 2009 a team of destiny, but I would certainly say that my excitement after 2009 was through the roof thinking about the potential the Magic had of stringing together multiple championship seasons.

Now, after a couple of years, we can only look back fondly (even at the losses) in 2009 and wonder where that team of destiny went.

Dwight was not quite ready 
He did so many things right. He attracted the double-team, got to the foul line (sometimes), passed the ball with precision (for the most part), and rebounded like it was going out of style. What was missing for me was that takeover hunger that Kobe Bryant had throughout the entire game and series. Yes, Dwight demanded the ball, but he did not command the paint. At times he struggled to make good decisions like going left instead of right, or spinning for the lob instead of trying to back Gasol down. You can’t point the finger at Dwight, but you can safely say that he was not ready to win a championship. This was not Shaq, nor was it Tim Duncan. He needed another year or two to develop (which he did). The sad thing is that 2009 team did not stay a 2009 team with him. They dwindled as his game got progressively better. It is one of the more painful memories Magic fans have. Dwight was great, he was even terrific, but he was not ready in 2009 to win a championship.

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Aug 16

3-on-3 roundtable: A look at the road ahead

Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

A week ago, Magic Basketball’s team of writers were featured on a recent 5-on-5 roundtable discussion at, answering offseason questions pertaining to the Orlando Magic and providing our opinions on several topics, including our thoughts on Dwight Howard‘s future and more. But we didn’t stop there.

As a supplement, here is our 3-on-3 roundtable discussion on the Magic.


What are your thoughts on Gilbert Arenas’ Twitter account?

Nate Drexler: Gilbert’s tweets are highly entertaining, but highly discouraging. I hate to make a big deal out of nothing, especially while there is no NBA season happening, but it’s almost all the evidence you need that he does not care about this game anymore. Being a goofball is one thing, but the aura that Gilbert has created in his tweet-o-sphere is childish to me. If I’m Otis Smith, Stan Van Gundy, or any Magic player, I’m thinking to myself, “I cannot wait until this guy is not my problem anymore.”

Eddy Rivera: Following Gilbert Arenas on Twitter has been one of my more hilarious endeavors since I signed up in 2009. If you want to see Arenas without a filter, then you’ve come to the right place. It’s refreshing to see that Arenas doesn’t hold anything back and you feel like you’re getting his real personality when he tweets. Sure, Arenas has gotten fined an undisclosed amount of money by the NBA for some of his content but at least he’s not playing it by the book. For Arenas, there is no book, just random pages.

Matt Scribbins: The pictures of him planking are the most entertaining I have even seen on Twitter and it’s not even close. His daily shoe contests are a fun way for him to interact with fans and reward his followers with a cool prize. I’ll give him credit for being honest, but he is probably to the point where he has offended nearly everyone. I think Foghorn Leghorn could probably sum it up the best – “It was the best of times, I said it was the worst of times.”

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Aug 09

Remembering Game 1 of the 2009 NBA Eastern Conference Finals

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

I recently revisited Game 1 of the 2009 NBA Eastern Conference Finals between the Magic and Cavs. Cleveland was hot, and maybe even the team to beat coming into the series. Orlando had other intentions, though. My foggy memory was filled with ideas of a three-point shootout, a lot of LeBron isolation, and a big shot from Rashard Lewis. After revisiting, I realized my memory had failed me.

This was an epic showdown between two superstars — Dwight Howard and LeBron James. More than that, though, it was a showdown between two coaches, two benches, and two sets of roll players. The Magic won in all three of those categories, which meant they would win the game too.

No one on the corner has swagger like us
I remember watching every second of this series. In fact, I remember watching every second of the Cavs’ season. The Mo Williams pick up had me hooked from preseason on, and when LeBron and company arrived in the playoffs, I was convinced nothing could stop them. Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals was no exception. In fact, it probably epitomized that untouchable feeling more than any other game. The way the Cavs took the floor against the Magic was daunting. The Cavs were like a fresh rap group that, even if you didn’t like their song, you had to respect their swagger. LeBron was a man on a mission, and at that point had empowered Mo Williams and Delonte West to their max potential. It did not take long for LeBron to assert himself as a juggernaut, either. Ultimately, there was something special about that Cavs team, and what stopped them (perhaps the only thing that could have stopped them) were Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic.

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Jul 22

Remembering Game 1 of the 1995 NBA Finals

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The memory of Game 1 of the 1995 Finals will haunt Magic fans forever. It was a stage where Shaq showed that he would someday be one of the greatest players to play the game, but would have to go head-to-head with another future Hall of Fame center. It was a game of dramatic runs, huge lead changes, and brutal post battles.

When Orlando lost Game 1 to the Rockets in overtime, there was a sense that the series and season were indeed over. Mrs. Momentum had changed her dress, and there would be no stopping the Rockets after such an abysmal unraveling.

The story is simple. The Magic had a 20-point lead late in the second quarter, and blew the lead by the beginning of the fourth. Nick Anderson had a chance to end the game with his Magic up three, but he went 0-for-4 from the line with 10 seconds remaining. It was shocking, and the game went into overtime on some clutch Houston shooting.

Shaq played a better game than Hakeem
This was slated as one of the ultimate center matchups in NBA history. They said no one could contain Shaq but Hakeem, and no one could size up Hakeem but Shaq. It was a battle of power and finesse, and one that will be remembered forever. In Game 1, though, Hakeem struggled (despite scoring 31 points) to dominate the game in the same way Shaq did. Shaq’s vision, especially in the first half, was the driving force that opened up the floor so much for the outside gunners. Even though Shaq scored fewer points than The Dream, he had a career-high in assists that evening, and nearly hit a triple-double. What’s more, he limited Hakeem to six rebounds in the game.

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Jul 21

Style of play and wins

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Pythagorean wins is a formula that converts points scored and allowed into a predicted winning percentage. The results can show, among other things, teams that over/under perform, win/lose many close games, or just experience good/bad luck.

To predict an NBA team’s winning percentage, the following calculation is performed:

(Points Scored^16.5) / (Points scored^16.5  + Points allowed^16.5) = Winning Percentage

This article will focus on the NBA teams with the most total wins over the last four regular seasons (Lakers-236, Celtics-234, Magic-222, Spurs-221, Mavericks-213). The last four seasons are used because:

  • Stan Van Gundy’s tenure in Orlando started four years ago (LAL, BOS, SA same coach all four years too)
  • Rick Carlisle has coached the Mavericks for three of the last four seasons
  • The stars (Howard, Bryant, Duncan, Nowitzki, Garnett, etc.) played with same team entire span

This piece counts a close game as any contest with a final margin of three points or fewer (one possession). A blowout is any contest with a final margin of fifteen points or more (five possessions).

Only the Timberwolves (do they even count?) have fallen short of their Pythagorean win total by a greater margin than the Orlando Magic over the last four seasons. During the same span, Orlando never finished a season with more actual wins than Pythagorean wins.

The Dallas Mavericks check in on the other end of the spectrum as they exceeded their Pythagorean win total by a greater margin than any other team (10). As I mentioned in a Hoopdata article, some of the Mavericks’ success can be attributed to their record in close games (34-18). The Mavericks’ scoring differential predicted 203 wins over the last four years, but they actually won 213. On the other hand, Orlando’s scoring differential predicted 232 wins, but they actually won 222.

The Lakers amassed the most regular seasons win during the period, but their Pythagorean win total was equal to Orlando’s. In other words, they were victorious 14 more times than Orlando even though their scoring differentials indicated the same number. The Spurs collected just one fewer win than Orlando, but their scoring differential indicated 14 fewer wins.

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Jul 19

Orlando Magic’s 2011-12 regular season schedule released

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Via the Orlando Magic:

The National Basketball Association today released its 2011-12 schedule and announced the Orlando Magic will open its 23rd season on Wednesday, November 2 at Amway Center against Charlotte. Tip-off is 7 p.m.

Orlando Magic season tickets, partial plans, group and single-game Amway Center suite rental opportunities are on sale now. Ticket highlights include: 2,500 seats priced $20 or less, 8,000 seats priced $40 or less and 9,000 seats priced $50 or under. Single-game tickets will go on sale in October. A limited number of season tickets are available through the Orlando Magic Box Office by calling 407-89-MAGIC or visiting Fans will receive refunds, with interest, in the event games are missed because of the NBA work stoppage.

Orlando opens training camp on October 4 at Amway Center. The Magic’s complete regular season schedule is available through their official website: The entire NBA schedule can be found on the league’s official website:

The 61st NBA All-Star Game will be played on Sunday, February 26 at Amway Center, which will also host the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam on Friday, February 24 and NBA All-Star Saturday Night presented by State Farm on Saturday, February 25. NBA All-Star Jam Session presented by adidas, the hugely successful interactive basketball celebration, will be held at the Orange County Convention Center.

On March 7-8, Orlando will travel to London, England for a pair of regular season games against the New Jersey Nets. Both games will be played at London’s O2 Arena. It marks the second time in franchise history that the Magic will have regular season games scheduled outside of the United States. In 1996-97, Orlando also played New Jersey in a pair of contests in Tokyo, Japan.

Orlando has 14 national television games scheduled. The Magic will appear once on ABC (February 19 @ Miami), five times on ESPN and eight times on TNT.

The Magic’s local broadcast schedule will be released at a later date.

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Jul 13

Dwight Howard featured in ESPN The Magazine

Photo by Handout/Getty Images

Via Neil Janowitz of ESPN The Magazine:

The Dwight Howard Twitter Experiment was conceived by ESPN The Magazine to evaluate the manner in which the Subject, Orlando Magic superstar Dwight Howard (henceforth “Howard”), exploits Twitter and the benefits he derives therefrom. Over a four-hour period in Orlando on June 4, we observed Howard as he used the social networking site to arrange one-on-one interactions with six self-described fans, as well as ancillary encounters with more than 100 others. His behavior, and that of the participants, is documented herein.

Dwight Howard has never been hard to follow. The 6’11” center has shoulders wider than the American political spectrum and makes more than his share of public appearances. If someone wanted — for a presumably healthy reason — to tail him, it would be a straightforward endeavor. Twitter, however, has made it even easier to track the man, and from the remote comfort of a smartphone. [...]

To arrange encounters, Howard posted five tweets between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. ET. The dispatches, sent at least 45 minutes in advance of each rendezvous, promised participation in a predetermined activity to the first responder to arrive at the given address.

Observing the experiment was a field research team consisting of the study’s author, a location producer, an indeterminate number of production assistants, a photographer and his assistants, a makeup artist, a stylist, her assistant, a video producer, a videographer and a sound technician. A four-row shuttle bus transported the team, along with Howard and Samples, to each destination. By ESPN standards, it was a modest production.

The article is worth the read for those that want to everything there is to know about Dwight Howard’s exploits on Twitter. Howard is truly a man of the people.

Jul 06

2010-2011 Player Evaluation: Dwight Howard

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

2010-2011 regular season Dwight Howard
Games Played 78
Minutes Played 37.6
adj. +/- +14.09
net +/- +9.8
statistical +/- +7.24
PER 26.0
WARP 20.5
Win Shares/48 .236

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