Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 142

Jun 07

2010-2011 Player Evaluation: Jameer Nelson

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America

2010-2011 regular season Jameer Nelson
Games Played 76
Minutes Played 30.5
adj. +/- -3.54
net +/- +2.1
statistical +/- +2.20
PER 15.4
WARP 5.6
Win Shares/48 .137

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May 23

J.J. Redick’s report card

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

J.J. Redick plays a solid game, a fluid game, and a game that makes us think we are missing him when he is gone. Those around the league like to say he has a “high basketball IQ.” But does he? It seems that sometimes there are players who can give you positive output in almost every statistical category, but still fail to impact the game the way you want them to.

First we have to define basketball IQ. I hear it a lot when a player makes an unexpectedly good decision, or shows in some way that he schooled himself on his opponent. Generally it means preparedness, or the ability to adapt the rhythm of the game no matter what. Moreover, it means thinking ahead, and being one step ahead of your opponent.

At first glance I would say Redick definitely has a high basketball IQ. But how does this translate to statistics? I break it down into four categories: taking smart shots, making smart passes, playing strong defense, and protecting the ball. Superstar or not, if you can keep those four areas of your game on speed dial, you will do more good than harm for your team.

As for taking smart shots, Redick obviously does not struggle with the temptation to throw up circus shots, or go off shooting fadeaway’s from deep. His shot selection is sound, as evidenced by his .589 True Shooting percentage from this season. In fact, only two Magic players have a better True Shooting percentage than Redick—Dwight Howard and Ryan Anderson.

Need a current Eastern Conference Finals contender to compare that to? Kyle Korver currently has a True Shooting percentage of .572, and D-Wade is .581. So yes, Redick shoots for a high percentage, and at 17 percent usage, that is exactly what you need out of him.

Redick’s True Shooting percentage puts him among the leagues top 50 players, so he gets an A in this category.

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May 20

Magic “Postseason Special” to air on Sun Sports on Monday, May 23

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Via the Orlando Magic:

The 2010-11 Orlando Magic Postseason Special will premiere on Monday, May 23 at 6 pm ET on Sun Sports. The 30-minute show, hosted by Paul Kennedy, takes a look back at the Magic’s 2010-11 campaign.

President of Basketball Operations/GM Otis Smith, Head Coach Stan Van Gundy and several Magic players help relive some of the best plays and moments from the past season, as well as discuss a variety of other topics.

Other highlights include:

  • A look back at ‘10/10/10’ and the franchise’s first game in the Amway Center.
  • Profile of All-NBA center Dwight Howard’s remarkable season.
  • Dante Marchitelli and George Galante from ‘Magic Overtime with Dante and Galante’ recall some of the year’s stranger moments.

May 19

Examining the Orlando Magic’s offense

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Via Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post:

Given the dearth of long twos and isolation play, as well as the plentitude of threes and free-throw attempts, it’s almost as though stat geeks found room enough in their parents’ basement to design this offense. Lots of high-efficiency shots, few low-efficiency ones. That much isn’t up for debate.

At issue, though, is this team should have performed better than it did; every Magic fan, I think, would agree with me on that point. And before everyone piles on [Stan Van] Van Gundy, railing against what some folks derisively call this chuck-and-duck scheme, let’s recall an offense with the same principles ranked fourth just one year ago, and helped Orlando to win 59 games.

The principles didn’t change; the players did. Vince Carter, Matt Barnes, Rashard Lewis, Mickael Pietrus, Marcin Gortat, and Jason Williams are all regulars from the 2009/10 squad who departed prior to, or during, the next season.

To me, this all indicates Van Gundy’s offensive style works when equipped with the right personnel. He’s not an offensive genius like, say, Rick Adelman, whose superstar-less Houston Rockets squad had the league’s fourth-best offense this season. Seven Rockets averaged at least two assists per game. Adelman’s offense is more of a “plug-and-play” situation, if you catch my meaning. No matter the personnel, his teams will be brilliant offensively. The same is not true of Van Gundy, whose teams stand out more for their consistently great defense than offense.

For those that want to know more about head coach Stan Van Gundy’s philosophical approaches on offense, this article is a must-read.

Also, the Orlando Magic‘s need for a great one-on-one perimeter scorer remains.

May 18

The return of Rashard Lewis?

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Via Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel:

Rashard Lewis’ monster contract – and, in turn, his skills – received a lot of scrutiny from Orlando Magic fans this year before the team traded him to the Washington Wizards in December.

But what would you think about Lewis playing for the Magic without the $118 million dollar contract attached to his name?

If the league institutes an amnesty clause in the new collective bargaining agreement, there’s a chance the Wizards would use it to waive Lewis and the remaining $30 million on his contract (he’s paid $21.1 million in 2011-12 and could be bought out for approximately $10 million before the 2012-13 season). Of course, the Wizards could use the clause to undo the mistake of Andray Blatche’s contract (5 years, $35.7 million agreed to before this season), but it’s unclear if the Wizards view that deal as a mistake yet.

So, if Lewis gets bought out, he’ll hit the open market and be free to sign with any NBA team. His family still lives in Orlando and he shares close friendships with many Magic players, so there’d almost certainly be interest on his end. Stan Van Gundy showed legitimate emotion when Lewis was traded and praised Lewis’ selfless attitude and work ethic, so the Magic’s coach would likely support Lewis’ return.

This is an interesting scenario to think about, to say the very least.

However, the Orlando Magic have more pressing needs and although it’s a nice story,  re-signing Rashard Lewis if the possibility is there doesn’t do much to improve the team.

May 17

Looking a franchise in the mirror

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

As the Oklahoma City Thunder, scheduled to face off against the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Western Conference Finals later tonight, continue their quest towards progressing to the Finals, it’s hard not to look at the roster constructed by general manager Sam Presti and begin the process of comparing it to another up-and-coming team from back in the day.

With Kevin Durant, the Thunder have their superstar. Their leader. Their face of the franchise.

At the peak of his powers, Durant is one of the best players in the NBA that surely deserves to be mentioned in the same breathe with LeBron James, Dwight Howard, and others.

But what makes Durant a rare commodity is that he’s a star player that is humble, selfless, and extremely team-oriented in every sense of the term. Durant’s latest national advertising campaign with Gatorade is all you need to know about him. The spotlight may be on Durant but he always goes out of his way to include his teammates, like on this year’s NBA preview cover of Sports Illustrated, making sure they’re recognized as well.

Plus, Durant is more than content playing in Oklahoma City, not seeking the limelight of bigger cities like New York and Los Angeles. Durant wants to play basketball, and doesn’t need to do it in a specific media market

Needless to say, Durant is unlike his attention-seeking peers.

Then there’s Russell Westbrook, a player that has blossomed into a star but is still trying to shape himself on the court. Westbrook isn’t perfect and his detractors will remind him every step of the way, as it seems like he’s learning on the job at 100 miles per hour. But Westbrook’s ascent as one of the best point guards has been one of the more notable developments in the league this season.

Westbrook is the ying to Durant’s yang and even though their collective equilibrium on offense sways wildly from side-to-side every so often, more so on Westbrook’s half, there’s no question that they’ve become a dynamic duo at the tender ages of 22.

Those seeking an example for the potential of a perfect symbiotic relationship between Westbrook and Durant should look no further than Game 7 of the 2011 Western Conference Semifinals against the Memphis Grizzlies. Westbrook was the playmaker. Durant was the scorer.

Teams around the NBA would kill to be in the Thunder’s position of possessing two young stars with nearly limitless potential.

The Orlando Magic, more than most franchises, can relate to such being in such an envious position. Once upon a time, the Magic were the darlings of the league in the mid-’90s with two young stars en tow — Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway.

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May 16

More on the failures of the Orlando Magic

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Via Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post:

It’s unfair to pin responsibility for the team’s offensive shortcomings on any one player, but I do think [Jason] Richardson has to go under the microscope a bit here. He averaged 19.3 points in just 31.8 minutes per game with the Phoenix Suns prior to the deals, shooting 41.9 percent from beyond the arc and 47.7 percent overall. Though he played more minutes with Orlando–34.9, to be precise–his productivity declined sharply, perhaps as a natural consequence of no longer having a point guard of Steve Nash’s caliber feeding him the ball. Richardson shot a good, but not great, 38.4 percent on threes and, worrisomely, just 43.3 percent from the field. Carter, thanks to his foul-drawing ability and improved accuracy on twos, actually scored more efficiently for Orlando than Richardson did this season.

[Gilbert] Arenas is another scapegoat of sorts, though I’m not sure what anyone might have expected a man coming off three knee surgeries in the last three years to accomplish in the smallest role he’s ever held at the professional level. He proved an unmitigated disaster offensively, shooting more often, per minute, than everyone on the team, but converting just 34.4 percent of his shots. He had the right idea when it came to pushing the pace in transition, but still made curious decisions in the halfcourt, resulting in his unacceptably high turnover rate of 19.3. And the poor decision-making also manifested itself in his shot selection.

Dunlap has been chronicling everything that went wrong for the Orlando Magic during the 2010-2011 season in a series of posts — here’s his take on Ryan Anderson and Brandon Bass failing in the playoffs after productive regular seasons.

The articles, though cringe-worthy, are honest assessments and worth the read.

May 13

The ever-important amnesty clause

Via Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel:

The Orlando Magic are in somewhat of a financial bind, but the new collective bargaining agreement could provide some relief.

As the NBA and the players’ union continue to negotiate terms of the new CBA, a couple of recent proposals could give the Magic salary relief and provide Dwight Howard with a significant incentive to stay in Orlando if the proposals are eventually agreed upon.

While these provisions would also help other teams, the Magic would welcome any assistance in rectifying their dire financial situation and acquiring some salary flexibility. […]

Marc Stein of ESPN.com said the league’s recent proposal “called for the ability for each team to shed one contract outright before next season through a one-time amnesty provision that wipes that contract off a team’s books — even though the player must still be paid — reminiscent of a similar provision in the summer of 2005.”

This, of course, is music to the ears of Magic fans desperate to get Gilbert Arenas’ behemoth contract off the books. Would Otis Smith ditch Arenas — someone he shares a close relationship with — to lessen the Magic’s future payroll? It’d take a small amount of pride swallowing, but it’d be difficult for Smith to keep Arenas around if the amnesty clause is in option.

Important to note: In 2005, a team was not allowed to re-sign a player it used the amnesty clause on. So if Smith chose to waive Arenas, he would be ending their professional relationship in Orlando.

If the Orlando Magic want any hope of salvaging their ability to reconstruct an elite team and championship contender around Dwight Howard before it’s too late, the proposed amnesty clause could be general manager Otis Smith’s get-out-of-jail-free card.

It’s no secret that Gilbert Arenas has one of the worst contacts in the NBA, if not the worst, and for the Magic to potentially have the ability to release him outright with no penalty against the luxury tax (he would still be paid by the franchise) like the 2005 rule would be a huge step in the right direction in fixing the roster. The question, of course, is what are the odds the amnesty clause sees the light of day in the new collective bargaining agreement?

According to Larry Coon, the preeminent CBA expert, the chances are high.

If Smith decides to waive Arenas, then only Hedo Turkoglu‘s contract would be left to be dealt with. And needless to say, Turkoglu’s contract — which has three years remaining in shelf life but is partially unguaranteed in its final year — is far easier to move in theory if its decided that change is needed at the small forward position.

It’s quite possible that, somehow, someway, Smith may be able to undo his mistakes and get rid of two albatross contracts in Arenas and Turkoglu this offseason. There’s no guarantee that happens but it’s certainly of occurring within the realm of reality. As such, Magic fans should keep an eye out on what happens with the new CBA.

It might save Orlando’s future.

May 13

What went wrong for the Orlando Magic, Part II

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

The rise and fall of the Orlando Magic as an elite team and championship contender will be examined by Magic Basketball in a two-part series — here’s Part II.

As the Magic continue to face their uncertain near-future, I’m thinking about something I imagine a lot of us are: John Milton. Specifically, I’m thinking about Paradise Lost, his account of Adam and Eve’s expulsion from Eden. It seems to me that Magic nation probably feels how Adam and Eve did shortly after God exposed the whole apple/fig leaf-clothing fiasco: “We had it all, and we blew it somehow, and now we need to figure out who to blame. Also, I hate snakes.” Yeah, verily, fellow Magic watchers, we have dined on the ambrosia of celestial basketball, have stared lovingly into the pond at our reflections as Eve did, contemplating how nice it was to be a perennial contender. And now we must make our way into the less hospitable basketball wilderness, to try and figure out how to reclaim that divinity.

There is a strain of criticism in Paradise Lost readers that says that Adam and Eve did us all a solid by getting kicked out of Eden–their screw-up, basically, gave us life as we know it. It’s a pleasant take on the notion of original sin, usually called the fortunate fall. By sinning their way out of Eden,  Adam and Eve became people, and exposed the rest of the race to all the goods and bads that come with the territory. For the Magic, our fortunate fall was Rashard Lewis.

You remember that sign-and-trade. The Magic were getting a 27-year-old inside/outside player, the Sonics’ career leader in three-pointers, a player who had scored more than 20 points per game for three straight seasons and was coming of a career high in that department. Of the trade, Stan Van Gundy said, “It really makes our roster very, very good.  And even more than that, what this says to me and what our organization has done with Rashard shows me and should show everyone out there how committed this organization is to winning and winning a championship.”

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May 12

Orlando’s Dwight Howard highlights 2010-11 All-NBA First Team

Photo by Handout/Getty Images

Via the Orlando Magic:

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, the recipient of the 2010-11 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award, highlights the 2010-11 All-NBA First Team, the NBA announced today. Joining Howard on the First Team are Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls and LeBron James of the Miami Heat.

Howard, an All-NBA First Team selection for the fourth consecutive season, earned the 2010-11 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award, becoming the first player to win the award three straight seasons. He led the league with 66 double-doubles, while ranking second in rebounds (14.1 rpg) and fourth in blocks (2.38 bpg). Howard also averaged a career-high 22.9 points.

The All-NBA Second Team consists of guards Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder, forwards Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers and Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks, and center Amar’e Stoudemire of the New York Knicks.

The All-NBA Third Team includes the San Antonio Spurs’ Manu Ginobili and the New Orleans Hornets’ Chris Paul at guard, the Portland Trail Blazers’ LaMarcus Aldridge and the Memphis Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph at forward, and the Atlanta Hawks’ Al Horford at center.

The All-NBA Teams were chosen by a panel of 119 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. The media voted for All-NBA First, Second and Third Teams by position with points awarded on a 5-3-1 basis.

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