Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 197

Sep 08

Wednesday’s Magic Word

  • Via John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “The incurable cancer that has ravaged Kay Kellogg’s body has forced her to contemplate death much sooner than she would have preferred, but the bright and bubbly 62-year-old Orlando Magic fan has vowed that when her time’s up she will leave with a smile on her face. [...] [Dwight] Howard, Orlando’s consensus All-NBA center, brought a ray of happiness to Kellogg recently when he visited her at her Orlando home. Kellogg was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a cancer of the white blood cells in the bone marrow, on Aug. 8, and unfortunately there is no long-term cure for the disease. [...] Orlando’s star center has been a busy man this summer, twice traveling to China for Adidas and an acting role in a basketball movie. He also was in India as part of a promotional tour for the NBA and he’s been in New York and Los Angeles filming a television show and recording a children’s music album. But upon hearing Kellogg’s story, Howard made it a point to visit one of his biggest fans. Howard was scheduled to stay at Kellogg’s house for 30 minutes, but ended up hanging around for almost two hours. The two of them talked cooking, free throw shooting and life. Kellogg said she avoided talking about her cancer diagnosis, but she was touched at how Howard’s mood shifted from playful to serious when she would grimace because of pain in her body.”
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk thinks Adonal Foyle is the perfect man for the job as the director of player development for the Orlando Magic.
  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports that EA has released the rosters for Eastern Conference teams in the new version of the NBA Jam videogame. Vince Carter, Dwight Howard, and Rashard Lewis are the Orlando Magic players available, though the team also boasts two legends in Nick Anderson and Scott Skiles. Today, our question is simple: which potential combination–remember, NBA Jam is a two-on-two, arcade-style game–of Magic players are you most excited to use in the new game? There are ten possible combinations, and I’ve listed each in the poll attached to this post.”
  • Go vote at OPP!
  • More on the good three-point shooter/bad free-throw shooter phenomenon from Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference: “I always felt that FT% is the best indicator of pure shooting form, since unless the player resorts to a gimmicky, Rick Barry-style approach, it’s just him, his mechanics, and a basket 15 feet away. Meanwhile, 3P% can be influenced by so many more factors, depending on the player’s style of play and/or role in the offense; for instance, look at Jason Kidd’s magical transformation from a guy nicknamed “Ason” to a 43% 3-point shooter (!!!) in Dallas. FT% is far less dependent on contextual effects, which seems to make it a better indicator of a player’s underlying skill.”
  • Trey Kerby of Ball Don’t Lie comments on the feel-good story involving Kay Kellogg and Dwight Howard: “Occasionally stories come around that push your sadness buttons just enough that your eyes get a bit misty, while at the same time the same story activates your smile sensors because it’s about someone doing something good for another person. You know what I’m talking about.”

Sep 08

Fact or Fiction: Marcin Gortat, Vince Carter, and Brandon Bass Will Remain With the Orlando Magic Until the End of the Season

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Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Fact or Fiction presents both sides of key issues the Orlando Magic will face in the upcoming season.

Marcin Gortat, Vince Carter, and Brandon Bass will all finish this season in a Magic uniform.

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Fact
It can be argued, even if it’s — admittedly — not the strongest argument, that the Orlando Magic are better off keeping the roster as is. Remember, the Magic were first in efficiency differential (+9.25) during the regular season last year and they bring back the same group of guys, sans Matt Barnes after he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent. The only new faces that will be in the rotation, for the time being, are Quentin Richardson and Chris Duhon. Plus, given that Richardson will likely be an upgrade from Barnes, especially on offense, and Duhon is projected to have a good season as Jameer Nelson‘s back-up, it’s safe to say that Orlando shouldn’t miss a beat. Why make a trade just for the sake of making a trade?

In the grand scheme of things, the Magic are still one of the best teams in the NBA as currently constructed. It might be in the best interest of general manager Otis Smith to leave the roster alone and let the players try again.

It’s called a second chance.

Vince Carter and Brandon Bass will get the benefit of playing in head coach Stan Van Gundy‘s system for another season. In Carter’s case, the hope is that he can develop more synergy with Dwight Howard in pick and rolls but it’s a wait-and-see approach. As for Marcin Gortat, there is the expectation is that he’ll bounce back from a sub-par year and play with more energy, as well as cut down on the turnovers — two minor issues that plagued him in 2010.

And at the end of the day, Howard must take his game to the next level if Orlando wants to win a title with their current outfit of players.

Even if the Magic were to acquire someone by trading Gortat and/or Carter and/or Bass, Howard has to open Pandora’s box on offense or else it’s a moot point.

The pressure isn’t on Gortat, Carter, or Bass to produce, which means that they may stick around even if they fail to contribute by their standards.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 08

Dwight Howard is a Man of the People

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Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Via Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel:

Her bucket list included just one item.

Kay Kellogg didn’t want to climb the Eiffel Tower. Or run a marathon. Or jump out of an airplane. She just wanted to have a nice conversation with her hero.

Dwight Howard is just such a precious, wonderful kid,” she says. “Whenever I watch him play, he just makes me feel good inside.”

And for a woman who feels so bad inside most of the time, this is quite an accomplishment for Dwight.

You think leading the league in rebounding and blocked shots is difficult? Try leading the cancer ward in smiles elicited and hearts warmed.

Kay, 62, is sitting at her apartment Tuesday telling her story. [...]

She has Stage 3 Multiple Myeloma, an aggressive cancer that searches out and destroys the blood plasma in the bone marrow. Her disease is inoperable and incurable, but her demeanor is inspiriting and uplifting.

She lives on a fixed income, but two seasons ago she decided to treat herself to Magic season tickets in the upper level. Watching Dwight play is one of the joys of her life. She showed up at nearly every game that season wearing her blue No. 12 Dwight jersey.

A few weeks ago, her daughter, Arian Clute, had an idea. She contacted the [Orlando] Magic and told them that her mother had but one wish before she died: She wanted to meet Dwight.

And, so, a few days ago, Dwight showed up at her door step. He was supposed to spend 30 minutes and ended up staying nearly two hours.

Take five minutes out of your day, and read this article.

This is about as good as it gets. Dwight Howard really is Superman.

Sep 07

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “I assure you I have a perfectly legitimate reason for not listing this performance as the best of [Dwight] Howard‘s career. But before we get to that game, let’s first appreciate all Howard did on this particular night. Really. 45 and 19 is a heckuva line, even before considering the blocks. And he did it against Emeka Okafor, who rated 10th in the entire league in points-per-possession allowed that season, according to Synergy Sports Technology. And as the final score indicates, Orlando needed what he gave it that night. This game was close throughout, with Charlotte holding a six-point lead after the third quarter and neither team leading by more than nine points. In addition to scoring 11 of Orlando’s 27 fourth-quarter points, he gave the Magic something that didn’t show up in the stat-sheet: a bone-crushing screen on the Bobcats’ Gerald Wallace on the Magic’s final possession of regulation, which freed J.J. Redick to sink the game-tying three-pointer.”
  • Why is Mickael Pietrus a bad free-throw shooter? Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook investigates: “The reason is because jump shooters spend all game shooting jump shots, that when they go to the line to take set shots, everything gets thrown off.  After watching some clips of Mickael Pietrus shooting both threes and free throws, my theory was proved correct.”
  • How will the 2011 NBA All-Star Game look?
  • Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference takes a look at league continuity. It’s a fascinating read: “What’s the takeaway from this? Well, for one thing, the mid-to-late 1990s (and, to a lesser extent, the 2000s-2010s) were a great time for NBA job security and continuity among players. Both methods show that if you were an active player during that era, there was better than a 50-50 minute-weighted chance you’d be drawing an NBA playcheck 5 years later. As for the reasons why this was the case, anecdotally we saw stars enter the league earlier (often from high school) and enjoy more staying power thanks to modern medical practices that were absent from the league’s earlier periods. But perhaps the biggest factor was simply expansion: the NBA went from 23 teams in 1988 to 29 in 1996, providing nearly 100 new jobs to fill (and maintain) that didn’t exist in the past.”
  • Trey Kerby of Ball Don’t Lie: “NBA teams love getting new arenas. Not only do they look beautiful, they also bring in a whole lot of money. Whether it be from fans wanting to check out the new digs or increased ticket prices, new stadiums are a serious revenue stream. Not to mention, state-of-the-art basketball facilities really help in free agent recruiting. Basically, a new stadium is baller status. However, when a team builds a stadium, there are a whole lot of moving pieces that need to be checked out. Imagine the home inspection on a new house, then multiply that by exactly 92,048. Quite intense, especially the bathrooms. Cool segue, I know, but if you put 20,000 people in a concrete box there better be a bunch of functioning toilets, lest things get zoological. The Orlando Magic understand all of this, so they’re putting together a really fun day for local children at their new Amway Arena.”
  • Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse has more on the Orlando Magic’s “potty party promotion.”

Sep 07

Orlando Magic Name Adonal Foyle Director of Player Development

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Via the Orlando Magic:

The Orlando Magic have named Adonal Foyle as director of player development, President of Basketball Operations Otis Smith announced today. In his role, Foyle will provide support for the overall development of the players, act as a conduit between players and management, and give assistance to the basketball operations department.

Originally selected by Golden State in the first round (eighth overall) of the 1997 NBA Draft, Foyle (6’10”, 270, 3/9/75) appeared in 733 regular season games during his 13-year NBA career with Golden State, Orlando and Memphis, averaging 4.1 ppg., 4.7 rpg. and 1.63 blkpg. in 17.8 minpg. Foyle remains Golden State’s all-time franchise leader in blocked shots with 1,140. He spent the final three seasons of his professional career with the Magic before retiring in August 2010.

Born on March 9, 1975, Foyle grew up on the small island of Canouan (population 1,000 and 3.5 x 1.25 miles in size) and did not play organized basketball until the age of 16. During his time in the NBA, he was extremely active off the court. In the summer of 2001, Foyle founded “Democracy Matters,” a non-profit political organization that encourages grass-roots involvement in the campaign finance reform movement. Democracy Matters currently has more than 70 chapters on college, university and high school campuses in 23 different states. In 2006, he established the Kerosene Lamp Foundation, named after the type of light Foyle used to study at night on an island with no electricity, with the goal of empowering youth of the Eastern Caribbean and the United States to take control of their future. All of Foyle’s off-the-court activities can be found on his personal website – www.adonalfoyle.com.

Foyle has been inducted into both the Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame and the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-America Hall of Fame. He also served as first vice president of the National Basketball Players Association.

Sep 07

Are the Orlando Magic Being Overlooked?

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Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Via Sekou Smith of the NBA’s Hang Time Blog:

Magic fans have been pounding the HT inbox this summer arguing that their team is being left out of the conversation of title contenders this season. And they’re probably right. Most of the insiders we’ve spoken with this summer don’t hold the Magic in the same regard they did this time a year ago, when they were the reigning Eastern Conference champions and still smarting from that ’09 Finals defeat to the Lakers.

They still have the nucleus of a team that won 59 games, finished second to Cleveland in the East and had the second best overall record in the entire league. Dwight Howard is a year older and better, as is Jameer Nelson, and there aren’t any chemistry concerns for Stan Van Gundy, who won’t have to refer to the periodic table the way Doc Rivers and Erik Spoelstra will in Boston and Miami, respectively.

An underdog tag could be exactly what the Magic need to motivate them this season. And of all the teams in the East that could play spoiler to a potential Heat-Celtics battle for the top spot, no one seems better equipped to do so than Orlando.

This is a topic that will surely be revisited in the future.

Sep 07

Revisiting the Topic of the Orlando Magic’s Biggest Rival

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Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

Nearly a week ago, Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post ventured into the topic of rivals for the Orlando Magic. It’s a fascinating subject that has gained steam since the Miami Heat acquired LeBron James and Chris Bosh in free agency, pairing them with Dwyane Wade to form like Voltron.

The Heat, of course, are a divisional and an in-state rival of the Magic.

The term “rival” comes up far too often in sports, I believe. The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox have a storied, decades-long rivalry, and play in the same division, for instance, but the Yankees are a cut above the Red Sox right now; the Tampa Bay Rays pose a more immediate threat to their chances of repeating as World Series champions than the Red Sox do. In a rivalry, what I look for is competitors at roughly the same level, preferably among the elite. I mean, the L.A. Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves might have bad blood stemming from the Timberwolves’ hilarious tanking effort to avoid having to deal a draft pick to the Clippers, but because neither of those teams matters much in the NBA landscape, you’ll have a hard time convincing me I should care.

In this particular write-up at OPP, three teams were considered as Orlando’s biggest rival — Miami, as well as the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. These are squads that have a recent history with Orlando, in some way, shape, or form.

A poll was conducted and — at the time — out of 680 votes, 52 percent of the people voted the Celtics as the lead villain in the Magic’s story. It make sense, given that Orlando and Boston have gone toe-to-toe in the past several years.

The Magic and Celtics are linked pretty tightly since both franchises made major moves in 2007. In Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, Boston infamously added two Hall-of-Famers, while the Magic brought head coach Stan Van Gundy and Rashard Lewis. Though they didn’t meet in the postseason that year–the Celtics dispatched the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals, one round after the Pistons sent the Magic home–they’ve had some memorable battles in the ensuing seasons. [...] As far as competitiveness is concerned, it’s hard to get much closer than the Magic and the Celtics have been since 2007. In the 24 meetings (counting the postseason) between the teams in that span, the Celtics have scored 2206 points to the Magic’s 2197. A one-possession margin decided six of those 24 games. When the two teams play, you really ought to tune in.

My vote would be for the Heat, more so because the stakes have never been higher between two teams from the state of Florida that will be vying for a championship in the same division, let alone the same conference. To me, the storyline is more compelling with Miami. There’s no question that the Celtics are a rival for the Magic, but it’s the Heat.

It’s personal on a number of levels.

Sep 03

Friday’s Magic Word

  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Let us not get it twisted: Miami’s goal this summer was to play catch-up with the [Orlando] Magic, Boston Celtics, L.A. Lakers, and the rest of the league’s elite. Orlando’s core players were already in place. In Dwyane Wade, Miami had but one. That’s a huge distinction. Remember, the Magic made over their roster in 2007 with the addition of Rashard Lewis, using the salary-cap space that freed up once Grant Hill’s contract expired. They further adjusted it last summer by trading for Vince Carter. Given their salary structure, and the constraints the NBA salary cap imposes, there’s no way they could have reasonably expected to land a premiere free agent this summer. Instead, they split the mid-level exception on [Chris] Duhon and [Quentin] Richardson, drafted Daniel Orton, re-signed Jason Williams, and called it a summer. In more abstract terms, they added two rotation players, drafted a project, and retained a third-stringer. Minor tweaks to an already elite roster.”
  • Want to learn more about pace? Click here.
  • Apparently, Chris Duhon is set to earn $1.5 million more than he should.
  • Tom Haberstroh of Hardwood Paroxysm quantifies shot selection by position: “We want to outgrow the conventions of traditional positions but let’s see if we can observe divisions in the first place.  Hoopdata breaks down shot types into 5 buckets: at the rim (layups and dunks), <10 feet, 10-15 feet, 16-23 feet, and 3-point shots.  Here’s how the five positions look, in terms of percentage of shots in each location.  So what does a point guard’s shot makeup look like compared to a shooting guard? Where do we see the biggest disparities between positions?”
  • More Rashard Lewis highlights.

Sep 03

One of Rashard Lewis’ Best Game in an Orlando Magic Uniform

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Lewis was a monster in Game 2 of the 2009 NBA Finals — 34 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists.

Sep 03

Fact or Fiction: Rashard Lewis Should Start at Small Forward

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Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Fact or Fiction presents both sides of key issues the Orlando Magic will face in the upcoming season.

Statement
The Orlando Magic need to shift Rashard Lewis to the small forward position and run a “more traditional” scheme if they want to be able to advance to the NBA Finals and win.

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Fact
Want to spark a debate?

Mention the name ‘Rashard Lewis’ to Magic fans and it’s like pouring gasoline on a fire. Aside from Brandon Bass, there’s not another player for the Orlando Magic — maybe Dwight Howard — that brings so much intense discussion to the table than Lewis.

It’s true that Lewis struggled a bit offensively against the Boston Celtics in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. The Magic were unable to advance to the NBA Finals for a second consecutive year, partly because Lewis was neutralized by Kevin Garnett — one of the best defenders in league history. And the fact of the matter is that Orlando has yet to win a championship with Lewis at the power forward position. It’s been three seasons, and the Magic have ultimately come up empty-handed in the playoffs. This isn’t to say that it’s impossible for Orlando to win the “gold ball” with Lewis at power forward. It just hasn’t happened.

Those are some of the facts.

If Orlando was able to acquire a premiere power forward then yes, moving Lewis to small forward wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Maybe, then, change can come.

It wouldn’t mean that everyone in the debate would be satisfied, though.

Read the rest of this entry »

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