Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 140

Apr 13

The awards ballot

Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

With the regular season winding down and the postseason just a mere six days away, I figured I’d do what other writers have been doing lately — reveal my awards ballot. I know that I’m not a member of the Pro Basketball Writers Association, which means I do not have a say in who wins which award but I still wanted to engage in this exercise.

Most Valuable Player

adj. +/- net +/- stat. +/- PER WARP Win Shares/48
Dwight Howard +13.08 +9.4 +7.10 26.0 20.2 .235
LeBron James +10.05 +11.4 +8.65 27.2 20.1 .243
Chris Paul +18.67 +11.9 +9.48 24.0 16.3 .238
Derrick Rose +7.60 +2.3 +5.45 23.7 15.7 .209
Dwyane Wade +7.42 +8.2 +6.62 25.2 16.4 .216

 
With LeBron James teaming up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, coupled with ‘The Decision’ becoming a PR disaster, it’s no surprise that the race for the MVP award was wide-open this season. Voter fatigue was already going to be an issue for James in his quest for a third consecutive MVP, given that not even Michael Jordan accomplished the feat in his career. As such, it was going to take a historical year from James to overcome the many obstacles in his way for him to win the MVP but it didn’t happen. James’ numbers took a small hit across the board, with Wade’s presence being a corollary reason. That allowed a player like Dwight Howard to be his near equal statistically. When looking at their resumes and complete bodies of work, it’s hard not to choose between James or Howard for MVP — there’s no wrong answer between the two of them.

Howard gets the nod because of many factors.

The improvements that everyone was waiting for from Howard were fulfilled, as he was able to maintain his efficiency on offense even with a career-high usage rate of 27.2 percent. The sign of a great scorer in the NBA is his ability to be efficient while shouldering a heavy load offensively, and Howard was able to do that this season. And it can’t be understated the type of impact Howard has when he’s not scoring, given that his presence in the low post allows the shooters for the Orlando Magic to enjoy plenty of open looks from the perimeter that wouldn’t come otherwise. Also known as the Shaquille O’Neal effect — with Damon Jones as a prime example.

Likewise, Howard is vital to the Magic’s vaunted pick and roll attack that’s anchored by Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu, with the threat of him being the roll man making it extremely difficult for opposing defenses to aggressively contain the pick and rolls. With a refined post game and a reliable mid-range jumper from 10-15 feet that he’s making at a rate (40.2 percent) better than the league average (39.4 percent), coupled with an underrated ability to pass out of double-teams effectively, Howard has all the tools offensively. It’s only at the free-throw line where Howard continues to struggle.

Critics are quick to point out Howard’s lack of involvement in crunch-time situations but that’s partly due to his teammates not getting him the basketball enough, plus head coach Stan Van Gundy not calling plays for him at times. Sometimes it’s as simple as Orlando needing a three-point shot in the closing seconds of a game. Even then, Howard’s ability to rebound and defend gets overlooked way too many times in discussions of players performing in the clutch.

And when it comes down to it, there’s not another player in the league that can impact a game defensively like Howard. Despite general manager Otis Smith acquiring acquiring Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, and Gilbert Arenas, thus becoming far weaker on defense in theory, the Magic are ranked 3rd in defensive efficiency — better than teams like the Miami Heat — thanks in large part to Howard’s ability to coerce opposing players into shooting jumpshots while limiting their chances at the free-throw line and devouring rebounds. Van Gundy’s schemes are a factor too, but Howard is the player putting those strategies into practice on countless possessions, which is the primary reason that Orlando defends post players better than any other team. Or that Howard is able to slow down a pick and roll, recover to the paint, and provide weak-side defense in one felt swoop. Was it mentioned that the Magic do the best job of limiting field goal attempts at the rim because of Howard’s intimidating presence in the lane? Indeed, Howard is an omnipresent defensive force.

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Apr 12

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com: “Ignore the regular season series between the [Orlando] Magic and Hawks because every game they played was inconsequential evidence of what to expect in this rematch of last year’s conference semifinals. The first meeting was before Orlando’s blockbuster trades; the second collision was during the Magic’s stomach virus epidemic, the third was the first game following the deals and the final contest was injury-plagued for the blue and white. While Jason Collins was credited for his willingness to body up on Dwight Howard in the regular season, I expect Superman to flourish and dominate against his counterpart in a seven-game series. I also anticipate Jameer Nelson to thrive against Kirk Hinrich, who the Hawks acquired at the trade deadline from the Wizards. One of the more intriguing matchups will be at the shooting guard spot with Joe Johnson and Jason Richardson – two explosive scorers and primetime players. Some of the most glaring curiosities will be injury related as Atlanta’s Josh Smith recently returned from a sprained knee and it remains unspecified whether Orlando’s J.J. Redick will be back after missing more than a dozen games with a lower abdominal strain.”
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com looks back at the top 10 moments for the Orlando Magic in the 2010-2011 NBA regular season. Here’s number one: “A sluggish Magic team given up for dead when it trailed the rival Heat by 18 points at halftime and by as much as 24 points in the second half awoke from its slumber and pulled off a comeback win for the ages. Once down 73-49 early in the third quarter, the Magic used runs of 22-7 (to end the third period) and 18-2 (to start the fourth quarter) – a shocking 40-9 spurt in all – for what very well could be the biggest regular-season victory in franchise history. The 24-point rally just missed equaling the all-time Magic record. Orlando’s comeback from 25 points down on Nov. 8, 1989 in Cleveland is the all-time franchise record. Orlando held LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to just 10 points combined in the second half after the Heat duo had 47 points in the first half. Wade did not have a field goal in the second half and James did not score in the fourth quarter.”
  • Dwight Howard likes being the underdog.
  • Tas Melas of The Basketball Jones makes his case for Howard and the MVP award.
  • Matt Moore of CBSSports.com: “Orlando poneyed up for the new arena critics of small-markets allege the non-top cities never approve. Ownership elected to go above and beyond the cap, deep into the luxury tax. They were smart enough to draft, and develop, a franchise player, acquire a competitive and arguably brilliant head coach, surround the team with competent role players. When the 2009 team failed to get past the last challenge, management did not get complacent, and instead opted for the home-run move you’re supposed to make, according to many. Vince Carter, for all his Vince-Carter-ness, was still a legit star in the summer of 2009. They went for the big move. When that didn’t work out, they once again swung for the fences. You can’t say Otis Smith didn’t try. But here they are. Entering the playoffs as the worst seed they’ve been since 2008, with little to no momentum, and considered nothing more than after-thought in the playoffs. They are a speedbump in the road to the Finals for teams from Miami, Chicago, Boston. They gambled. They lost. And the worst part of all is this season may turn out to be the one that gives Dwight Howard an excuse to leave Orlando; it may be the one reflected on as what turns Howard away; it may be the year Orlando lost their franchise center, again.”
  • Offensive rebounds aided the Orlando Magic’s victory against the Philadelphia 76ers.
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk is skeptical that Jason Collins will make a difference for the Atlanta Hawks in their first round matchup against the Magic in the 2011 NBA Playoffs: “Orlando has dominated this matchup in recent years, but Atlanta is counting on Jason Collins to change that. Sure, that will work.”
  • Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus reveals his awards ballot.
  • Atlanta and Orlando are two teams searching for respect in different ways.
  • Britt Robson of Sports Illustrated: “Based on this regular-season performance, Orlando has to hope Howard remains loyal when he’s eligible to become a free agent after next season. That would enable the Magic — whose salary-cap situation doesn’t look pretty — to go back to square two in rebuilding around the 25-year-old center.”

Apr 12

Dwight Howard and rebounds

Apr 12

Orlando Magic to honor fans with Fan Appreciation Night

Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Via the Orlando Magic:

The Orlando Magic will honor their fans when they host Fan Appreciation Night on Wednesday, April 13 as they face the Indiana Pacers in the last regular season game at Amway Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. and doors will open at 6:30 p.m.

Highlighting Fan Appreciation Night will be a jersey presentation to 13 randomly-selected Magic season ticket holders and representatives from 13 community partners, who will each receive an authentic autographed jersey from a Magic player prior to the tip-off of the game. The night will also include a number of activities centered around the fans, including pregame festivities and in-game activities.

Additional highlights include:

  • Amway will have their Mobile Brand Experience (MOBE) on-site at Fan Fest as a thank you to fans for visiting the Amway Center this season. They will be giving out 2,500 co-branded drawstring bags.
  • Dwight 4 MVP t-shirts presented by adidas will be given away to the first 10,000 fans in attendance.
  • A pregame highlight video of the top 10 Orlando Magic plays of the year and a fan highlight video.
  • Ten autographed items will be given away during the game as part of the Magic Text presented by T-Mobile Text2Win Promotion.
  • Gina Marie Incandela will sing the National Anthem and the Orlando Magic Dunking Dancers will be performing at halftime.
  • A halftime presentation to the Aleve-Publix Hustle Player of the Year.
  • Every fan will receive a Dwight 4 MVP Poster presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida as they exit.

The 13 community partners who will be receiving an authentic autographed jersey from a Magic player as a sign of thanks from the Magic are: Family Friends United, Center for Drug Free Living Village House Program, House of Freedom, Beta Center, Inc., Hope CommUnity Center, Elevate Orlando, Wake Up Mentoring, Apopka Family Learning Center, Junior Achievement of Central Florida, Great Oaks Village, Boys Town of Central Florida, Center for Multicultural Wellness and Prevention and Helping All Youth Achieve.

Apr 12

Dwight Howard gives Jrue a poster for the holidays

Apr 12

Notes on the Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks

Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

Pythagorean wins
The Orlando Magic (4) and Atlanta Hawks (5) will square off in the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs. The seeding would indicate this series is evenly matched, but one measure tells a different story.

Orlando has 55 Pythagorean wins on the season, and the Hawks have 17 fewer. Orlando actually has 50 wins during the regular season, and the Hawks have 44. This means Orlando has won 5 fewer games than their point differential would predict, and Atlanta has won 6 more games than their point differential would predict. For comparison, the 4 versus 5 match-up in the Western Conference will feature teams with a difference of one Pythagorean win.

Among other things, Pythagorean wins can be an indication of teams who are over/under performing or teams who have experienced good/bad luck throughout the year.

Chicago has 22 more Pythagorean wins than their first round opponent, Indiana. Miami has 14 more Pythagorean wins than Philadelphia, and Boston has 12 more Pythagorean wins than New York. Atlanta has as many Pythagorean wins as the Pacers, and Orlando is tied with the Celtics. The Lakers and Spurs both have one more Pythagorean win than Orlando. The Bulls lead the NBA with 60 Pythagorean wins.

Win/Loss profiles
The website 82games.com breaks down each teams’ wins by opponent profile. 82games considers teams in the top 10 of a category as good, 11-20 as average, and 21-30 as bad.

Orlando is 15-12 against teams ranked between 11 and 20 in point differential. The Hawks rank 16th in the NBA in point differential. Atlanta is 8-17 against the NBA’s top teams in point differential. The Magic rank 6th in the NBA in point differential.

Orlando is 10-16 against teams ranked in the top 10 in points allowed. The Hawks rank 9th in points against. Atlanta is 10-15 against teams ranking in the top 10 in points allowed. The Magic rank 5th in points against.

Pace
Orlando is 14-16 against the slowest teams in the league. The Hawks rank 27th in pace (possessions per game).

Atlanta is 18-10 against teams that rank between 11-20 in pace. The Magic rank 18th in pace.

Shooting
Orlando is 10-15 against average shooting teams. The Hawks rank 12th in effective field goal percentage.

Atlanta is 9-17 against good shooting teams. The Magic rank 6th in effective field goal percentage.

Turnovers
Orlando is 21-6 against the teams with worst turnover differential in the league. The Hawks rank 25th in this category.

Atlanta is 20-6 against the teams with worst turnover differential in the league. The Magic rank 24th in this category.

Rebounds
Orlando is 20-10 against bad rebounding teams. The Hawks rank 22nd in total rebounding rate.

Atlanta is 18-8 against good rebounding teams. The Magic rank 2nd in total rebounding rate. The Hawks are .500 (26-26) against average and bad rebounding teams.

Apr 11

Recap: Orlando Magic 95, Philadelphia 76ers 85

Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

BOX SCORE

Sparked by Dwight Howard‘s return to the starting lineup, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Philadelphia 76ers by the score of 95-85 in a game that was more lopsided than the end result indicates. Although the win was meaningless in the sense that the Magic are locked in to the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, it does give them a chance to finish the regular season at 52-30. That would give Orlando a stretch of four seasons under head coach Stan Van Gundy in which they finished with records of 52-30, 59-23, 59-23, and 52-30 — a symmetrical four-year stretch for those that are into that sort of thing. The Magic were led by a balanced attack, as four players scored in double-figures. Howard finished with a modest stat-line of 19 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and three blocks but he got the internet abuzz when he posterized Jrue Holiday in the third quarter on a fastbreak, easily one of the best dunks of the year in the NBA. The transition dunk was triggered after Jason Richardson scooped up a loose ball, zipped it up to Jameer Nelson, and from there it was showtime. Nelson eluded Holiday in the open court, then sprinted down the right side and lobbed the basketball up for Howard. For whatever reason, Holiday tried to intercept the pass but it was too late, as Howard caught the ball and dunked on Holiday with such anger, such fury, such hatred, that the crowd at the Wells Fargo Center awoke and responded with emotions involving disbelief and pleasure. For a split second, Holiday shared a timeless moment with Howard that will live on in infamy. Nelson’s return to the Philadelphia treated him well, as he finished with 19 points, seven assists, and two steals. Ryan Anderson continues to play at a high level, contributing with 18 points, 14 rebounds, and two steals in roughly 22 minutes of action coming off the bench as the sixth man. Richardson chipped in with 12 points, five rebounds, and three steals.

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Apr 11

Monday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic almost never hold a shootaround on the day after a game. If they’re in Orlando and are about to play the second leg of a back-to-back, they’ll hold a walkthrough on their Amway Center practice court a few hours before tipoff. If they’re on the road, they’ll assemble in a hotel ballroom around 11 in the morning and go over the keys to that night’s game. That routine changed today even though the Magic faced the Chicago Bulls in a hard-fought game Sunday afternoon in Orlando. Indeed, the Magic originally weren’t scheduled to shoot-around, but Stan Van Gundy decided to bring his players to the Wells Fargo Center, where they worked for almost 80 minutes. So what gives? It’s all about the playoffs. In an effort to prepare for their first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks, the Magic did more today to fine-tune their offense instead of preparing for tonight’s opponent, the Philadelphia 76ers.”
  • Which team poses the biggest threat for the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference?
  • J.J. Redick is close to returning for the  Magic.
  • Gilbert Arenas may sit out tonight’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers.
  • Marc Stein of ESPN.com: “Just because he’s not getting my MVP vote doesn’t mean that I won’t take a quick 20 to hat-tip Dwight Howard for joining Hakeem, Barkley and Moses as the only players in the last 30 seasons to average 23 ppg and 14 rpg.”
  • According to Zach Lowe of The Point Forward, Dwight Howard should be the MVP: “I’ve made the case all season, so I won’t belabor it again here. In general terms, Howard has emerged as an elite offensive player, the foundation of Orlando’s offense nearly (but not quite) to the degree that Derrick Rose and LeBron James are to the offenses in Chicago and Miami. His free throw issues and resulting lack of shot attempts in the clutch place him a small notch below the league’s best offensive players, but no one touches him as a defender. No one. That two-way combination, plus his value to an otherwise ho-hum Orlando roster, separates Howard from the field in an award meant to honor an individual’s play over 82 games and not during the final 45 seconds of a game that is happening in the imagination of too many voters.”
  • Chris Mannix and Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated are unanimous in their vote for Howard as the Defensive Player of the Year. Here’s what Thomsen had to say about Howard’s wizardry on defense: “Howard has the gaudy numbers and every scout will tell you he has an effect on virtually every defensive possession that finishes in or near the paint. But the most impressive part of Howard’s season is that he has carried a stingy Magic D almost single-handedly. He plays next to an undersized power forward (Brandon Bass), and the defensive skills of the wing players in front of him are average at best. This is an award that, barring injury, Howard should win every year.”
  • Add John Hollinger of ESPN Insider to the MVP tally, as he also declares Howard as the rightful player for the award: “I explained this in a lengthy column earlier this month, and while my logic has clearly displeased certain factions, it hasn’t changed any of the facts. The most notable one is that the three Florida stars — Howard, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade — were the league’s three best in the league by a fair margin, whether you want to use numbers, the much-beloved eye test or any other standard. Howard has no chance in real life, however. For some reason, the concept that the league’s best player could be on an also-ran team remains an insurmountable hurdle (for reference, see also Kobe Bryant in 2006 and Kevin Garnett in 2005).”
  • Life without Howard for the Magic wasn’t easy on Sunday.
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “Dwight Howard will finish the season averaging more than 23 points and 14 rebounds per game. Last person to do that (via ESPN’s Marc Stein): Hakeem Olajuwon. I’d have him higher, but if he’s not in the top three on your MVP ballot, you’re doing it wrong.

Apr 11

Preview: Orlando Magic at Philadelphia 76ers

7:00 EDT | NBA TV
50-30 @ 41-39
Pythagorean Record: 55-25 Pythagorean Record: 45-35
Pace: 91.4 (17th) Pace: 91.7 (16th)
Offensive Rating: 107.9 (14th) Offensive Rating: 106.8 (19th)
Defensive Rating: 102.2 (3rd) Defensive Rating: 104.9 (9th)
Wells Fargo Center | Magic lead season series 2-1

Apr 11

Lottery player scores big at Orlando Magic game; wins Playoff Fly Away Trip

Photo by Gary Bassing

Via the Orlando Magic:

The Florida Lottery today announced that James Kidd, 46, of Davenport, Fla. is the lucky winner of an Orlando Magic Playoff Fly Away Trip from the final contest of the Lottery’s Orlando Magic Fan Experience Second Chance promotion. During halftime at the Orlando Magic versus the Chicago Bulls game at Amway Center on Sunday, April 10, Kidd and seven other finalists scratched oversized Florida Lottery ORLANDO MAGIC Scratch-Off tickets to win prizes ranging from $500 to the Playoff Fly Away Trip (valued at $3,500).

The Florida Lottery partnered with the Orlando Magic to offer the Orlando Magic Fan Experience Second Chance promotion, which allowed Lottery players and Magic fans the chance to win unique, experiential prizes by entering non-winning ORLANDO MAGIC Scratch-Off tickets on the Lottery’s Web site. Four second chance drawings were held from February 2 to March 23.

During each second chance drawing, two finalists received a pair of tickets to the April 10 Orlando Magic home game. At halftime, the Orlando Magic Dancers led the finalists onto the court where they raced to scratch their oversized ORLANDO MAGIC Scratch-Off tickets to reveal their prizes. Kidd received the Orlando Magic Playoff Fly Away Trip for two, which includes two-night hotel accommodations, round-trip airfare and a pair of tickets to a playoff game.*

Other prizes won in the Orlando Magic Fan Experience Second Chance promotion included VIP experiences such as: a Coaches “Chalk Talk” Experience, the chance to meet an Orlando Magic player or legend, opportunity to serve as honorary Game Captain, a private suite for a game and locker room tours. Also, 680 players won Orlando Magic Fan Packs that included two replica jerseys, two T-shirts, two caps, two rally towels, two team travel bags, two wristbands, two team backpacks and an NBA basketball.

The ORLANDO MAGIC Scratch-Off game allows fans to show their team spirit while having the chance to win up to $100,000. In addition to the top prize, the $5 Scratch-Off game offers cash prizes ranging from $5 to $5,000, and allows players to win up to 12 times on the same ticket. The game has two $100,000 top prizes remaining. The game’s overall odds of winning are one in 4.02.

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