Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 198

Aug 31

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “St. Martin is unrealistic to expect an NBA team convert 90 percent of its free throws, but he’s on the mark when he says that many games can come down to foul shots. The Orlando [Magic] organization knows that much all too well. Nick Anderson‘s four late misses in the Magic’s Game One loss to the Houston Rockets in the 1995 NBA Finals came to define his career and, in turn, led Chris Ballard to spotlighting him in the chapter about foul shooting in last year’s The Art of a Beautiful Game. [Dwight] Howard and Turkoglu missed six of their 12 free throws in the fourth quarter in Game Four of the 2009 NBA Finals, which the L.A. Lakers won in overtime to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. And, this last season, [Vince] Carter missed two free throws late in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals which would have brought the Magic to within a point of the Boston Celtics. Though we can fairly attribute Turkoglu’s and Carter’s misses to chance, their shortcomings really highlight Orlando’s need for more reliability at the stripe. [...] The Magic, I believe, are still championship contenders, largely due to their work on the other side of the ball. And I do expect a bounce-back year from Carter. But certainly I’d feel better about their chances if they had a dynamic player who could earn several trips to the line each night.”
  • Meet the world’s greatest free-throw shooter.
  • Dwight Howard is going to visit Haiti in September.
  • Sandy Dover of SLAM ONLINE comes up with a trade that would land Carmelo Anthony to the Orlando Magic: “If the Orlando Magic were to acquire the likes of another star perimeter player to pair with Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis, it’s not impossible to believe that the Magic could go to the NBA Finals. Melo would be able to be such a distraction offensively that honest man-to-man defense by opposing teams might be the risk they would have to take to prevent a perimeter double-team from turning into a Dwight Howard dunk fest. Getting Arron Afflalo would make Orlando that much more competent on defense and on the ball offensively. The brilliance in acquiring Vinsanity, for the Denver Nuggets, would be that the Nuggets would have no pressure to re-sign the man, considering he’s in his last years of superstar pay (and quasi-star play). He’d be a nice bridge to keep the team in playoff mode, but nothing special, if we’re being honest with ourselves. Getting Mickael Pietrus would be the real treat, as he’s in his prime and blossoming just as the Nuggets need a player to be able to play well as all the other players on the roster continue to age, get injured or wind up in some sort of trouble. Air France’s modest salary and good play make his acquisition a win for Denver in their losing Melo.”
  • Howard is pitting himself against Dwyane Wade on the court. Sort of.

Aug 31

Dwight Howard Auctions Game of HORSE for Charity

Via Charitybuzz:

With a big man’s body, a small forward’s hangtime, the hands of a point guard and the heart of a champion, The Orlando Magic‘s Dwight Howard has won the adoration of fans around the world. Now, he’s taking that heart one step further with an incredible experience to benefit The New Look Foundation. Dwight Howard is auctioning the chance for one lucky fan to test their skills against his in a high-throttle game of HORSE!

Dwight Howard led the NBA in rebounds before he was even old enough to take a legal drink. One fan will have the rare opportunity to spend an afternoon shooting hoops with this incredible athlete while benefitting a great cause at the same time. The exclusive experience is up for auction on charitybuzz.com through Sept. 2 at: http://www.charitybuzz.com/catalog_items/215610

The New Look Foundation was founded by Usher Raymond IV, who understood early on that youth are the key to successful communities. He established the New Look Foundation to draw attention to the importance of their ideas, hard work and success. Every year, New Look mentors hundreds of youth as they discover their power as global leaders.

Aug 31

Poland Fails to Earn an Automatic Bid for EuroBasket 2011

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FIBA Europe / Castoria / Kulbis

Via Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com:

Marcin Gortat may not care that he was, by and large, one of the best, most dominant players during EuroBasket qualifying action in August. The Polish Machine averaged 18 points, nearly nine rebounds and more than two blocks per game for his country.

But, Gortat understands that his individual achievements are very immaterial after learning Poland did not qualify for EuroBasket 2011.

Poland suffered a devastating 70-67 defeat to Belgium on Sunday – allowing Georgia to eclipse the Poles in the standings and earn an automatic bid to next year’s competition. Poland finished Group C in fourth place. [...]

In addition to Belgium and Georgia, Montenegro, Great Britain and Israel also advanced to EuroBasket 2011. The remaining 10 teams that did not qualify will have one more opportunity to advance during another qualifying round next August. One team from that bunch will earn a bid to Lithuania.

For Marcin Gortat and his fellow countrymen, that’s a shame.

Nevertheless, be on the lookout for another highlight video of Gortat in the EuroBasket qualifiers at some point tomorrow. It’ll be an overview of Gortat’s performance against Bulgaria on August 23, in which he finished the game with 23 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks.

In cased you missed it, I posted highlights of Gortat’s match against Georgia last week. If anything else, it’s a rare opportunity to see Gortat being the best player on the floor.

Aug 30

Geico Joins Orlando Magic and Amway Center as ‘Champions of the Community’ Partner

Via the Orlando Magic:

The Orlando Magic announced today a new, multi-year relationship with GEICO as the auto insurer joins the franchise and the new Amway Center as a ‘Champions of the Community’ partner. The ‘Champions of the Community’ designation represents an elite tier of brands committed to Central Florida and the Parramore community.

As part of the ‘Champions of the Community’ relationship, GEICO will receive entitlement to the GEICO Garage, a parking garage adjacent to the Amway Center and located beside I-4. The entitlement to the City of Orlando parking facility will bring a revenue stream to the city. As another element of the partnership, GEICO also receives designation as the Official Auto Insurance of the Orlando Magic and beginning this season, will receive a digital signage package inside the Amway Center, presence on the Magic’s official website, OrlandoMagic.com, and will receive print advertisements in the game-day program, in-game radio spots and be incorporated into a number of promotions throughout the season such as giveaways and halftime sponsorship.

“We are honored to have GEICO join our ‘Champions of the Community’ partnership category for the new Amway Center,” Orlando Magic President Alex Martins said. “GEICO has been a partner with the Orlando Magic for more than 10 years, and in that time has demonstrated the qualities that align with our ‘Champions of the Community’ partners. We look forward to incorporating GEICO into our Central Florida fan base and for them to play an integral role in the new Amway Center for many years to come.”

“GEICO is proud and pleased to join the Orlando Magic and Amway Center as a ‘Champions of the Community’ partner,” said Ted Ward, GEICO vice president of marketing. “The Orlando Magic is a real champion of the community through its sponsorships and scholarships. We look forward to continuing our partnership with this outstanding franchise.”

GEICO joins the Orlando Magic and Amway Center as the fourth “Champions of the Community’ partner, joining PepsiCo, AirTran Airways and Harris Corporation. Opening in the fall of 2010, the facility, which will be operated by the City of Orlando and owned by the Central Florida Community, will compete to host major national events, concerts and family shows and serve as the new home of the Orlando Magic.

Aug 30

Playbook: The Corner Three-Pointer

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Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Over the last three years, the three-point shot has been used by the Orlando Magic as one of the primary weapons of choice in their offensive attack. There are many critics that bemoan head coach Stan Van Gundy‘s dependence of the three-pointer in the Magic’s philosophy on offense, yet they ignore the fact that threes are one of the most efficient shots in basketball — to be more specific, the corner three.

Why take a long two?

It’s no coincidence, then, that Orlando led the NBA in three-pointers made and attempted, while also putting up less shots from 16-23 feet than any other team. It should be noted that the Houston Rockets, noted for their basketball analytics, were second in the latter category. The Magic, too, dedicate themselves to the numbers, so there’s a method to the madness when it comes to their three-point happy ways.

A lot of people assume that the method primarily surrounds just chucking up threes and seeing what happens, but that’s not the case. Orlando makes an effort to seek out the corner three-pointer when executing some of their sets offensively. It’s why the Boston Celtics, in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals, made sure to not allow the Magic to get those shots.

It’s an easy thing to overlook because nearly everyone remembers the end result when it comes to certain plays. But like Bret “Hitman” Hart, Orlando takes pride in the excellence of execution. There is a grand design taking place when the Magic go through the motions on each possession on offense, trying to find the optimum shot to take as the situation presents itself.

How does Orlando maneuver the offense to create corner three-point shots?

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Aug 30

The Logic Behind Variable Pricing for Tickets

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Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images

Via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

The Orlando Magic are borrowing a page from the movie industry’s playbook.

Just as it costs more to attend a Friday-night premiere than a Tuesday matinee, the Magic also will base their single-game ticket prices on demand this upcoming season. A ticket to watch the team host the star-studded Miami Heat, Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers will cost more than a ticket in the exact same seat for, say, a game against the lowly Sacramento Kings.

For the first time in franchise history, the Magic will employ variable pricing for single-game tickets to all 41 of their regular-season home contests. Team officials will set prices based largely on the game’s day of the week and the quality of the opponent. [...]

Variable pricing is becoming increasingly popular throughout the NBA, with at least the Atlanta Hawks, Houston Rockets, New Orleans Hornets and Utah Jazz also planning to use it in 2010-11.

Makes sense from an economic point of view — it’s an efficient way to make money.

Considering the Orlando Magic will be sporting a payroll over $92 million this year, before accounting for the luxury tax hit, it’s only logical for ownership to squeeze out every last penny in a revenue stream that is going to be bolstered by the opening of the Amway Center.

This topic was touched upon by Kevin Arnovitz of TrueHoop a little over a week ago. Here’s what he had to say about variable pricing for tickets:

What does this mean for the average fan? He’ll have to be as precise in his purchasing strategy as the team is in its sales strategy. To maximize your dollars, first figure out the variables you value more (and less) than the rest of the customer base. In other words, apply Moneyball to your ticket-buying. The buying public usually prefers to consume live entertainment Friday-Sunday nights. If you don’t have kids, or if late nights during the week don’t bother you, zero in on the Monday-Thursday columns on the schedule. Second, what’s worth more to you — three games against mediocre opponents or one tantalizing matchup? All things being equal, superstars and the league’s premier teams generally put on a better show, but a variable pricing structure might overvalue brand names. If you’re a die-hard basketball fan, you probably have a better appreciation for the Sacramento Kings than the average New Orleanian, who might not know who Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins are. Watching the Hornets against an upstart Kings team will likely offer you the best bang for your basketball buck. Finally, seat location remains one of the most elastic variables in ticket-pricing. Determining which vantage point you value most relative to the median buyer is crucial in getting the most out of your purchase. As someone who needs to be between the baselines, I owned center-court seats in the first row of the upper bowl at Staples Center for years and paid less than half of what a corner seat 25 rows up from the floor cost.

Interesting stuff, to say the least.

Aug 27

Friday’s Magic Word

  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic com: “After talking to Rashard [Lewis] lately, I can tell you that he worked out with legendary big man Hakeem Olajuwon this summer to come up with some more moves in the low post. Hakeem talked to Lewis about using his body more to attack small forwards when switched to him in the low post. Using Lewis at power forward the past three years was a stroke of genius by head coach Stan Van Gundy because it gave the Magic a tremendous 3-point threat and pulled other bigs away from the rim to give Howard more room to operate inside. But Lewis has been told this summer to be ready to play more at the small forward position.”
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “One of the top players from the Orlando Magic’s 2010 summer league team has signed on with an NBA club. Forward Patrick Ewing Jr. has signed a free-agent deal with the New York Knicks, the Knicks announced today. Howard Beck of The New York Times is reporting that Ewing received a partial guarantee and likely will compete for a roster spot. Ewing Jr., of course, is the son of Magic assistant coach and former Knicks legend Patrick Ewing.”
  • Will Brinson of CBSSports.com catches up with Dwight Howard.
  • Keep an eye out for Fran Vazquez in the 2010 FIBA World Championships: “Fran Vazquez returns to the Senior National Team to hopefully replace some of the interior defense lost in Pau’s absence. Vazquez uses his combo of length and athleticism to change shots, board and finish strong on rolls/cuts. My partner would like to see some twin tower alignments of Marc & Fran, and I second that notion.”
  • Make sure to stay up-to-date with the Magic universe on Twitter.
  • Chris Broussard of ESPN Insider: “Vince Carter‘s wishy-washy play will only get more disappointing and inconsistent after a summer’s worth of aging; Rashard Lewis’ pattern of declining productivity in each of his three seasons in Orlando should continue; and summer spies say Dwight Howard hasn’t been diligent about adding post moves to his sub-par offensive arsenal, so there’s not much reason to believe the Magic will improve this season.”
  • Summer spies? For what it’s worth, Broussard is the same individual that reported that Baron Davis’ weight has ballooned to 260 pounds in the summer, which turned out to be false.
  • Who are some of the richest players in the NBA?
  • Do defenses really win championships? Is that axiom true? Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference investigates: “These findings still bear out the axiom of defense winning championships, but the split between offense & defense is much smaller than it had been when we included pre-merger seasons. Going back to our earlier example, to have the same p(C) as a team with an average offense and a -5.0 defense, an average defensive team would have to score only 5.8 more pts/100 poss than average if we use this equation. However, the continued prominence of defense even when we drop the heavily D-oriented Celtics dynasty from the sample does suggest that, all things being equal, teams should prioritize excellence at that end of the court if they want to win a championship.”
  • Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie: “Dwight Howard pays attention to defense. He runs with a smile on his face and won’t remind you of Elvin Hayes in the low post, but he is a dominant force, an MVP candidate and the best player at his position. He also doesn’t turn 25 years until December. Which just doesn’t seem fair, if we’re honest.”
  • Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook takes a look at how Orlando beats double-teams on offense.

Aug 27

Dwight Howard Speaks, and the World Listens

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Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Via Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie:

Dwight Howard: I think people see the end product, but they don’t see what it takes to get there. Defense is about heart and will. There are a lot of things that come easy to guys on defense, but to be able to want it, and be consistent with it, that’s what makes you the best. The things that I tried to keep on my mind that I wasn’t good at, especially during my first couple of years in the league, were pick and rolls. And I studied all the guards, and what they like to do coming off screens.

That’s the part that, I think, makes me a pretty good defensive player. I really read the guards. I know that when a guard comes off [a screen and roll] he’s going to do one or two moves to get around the big. The guards that have gotten past me are the ones I haven’t seen much before. But other than that, I just try to remember that defense will lead to offense. And that with point guards, watching the film, that really helps me out. I would say film, and lots of studying players that play those positions help me out. Lots of things in the pick and roll that you can master – it helps give your team a chance to win.

Dwyer interviews Howard and asks him a variety of questions.

The transcript is worth the read.

Aug 26

Single-Game Tickets for Orlando Magic’s 10-10-10 Opener Sold Out

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Via the Orlando Magic:

Single-game tickets for the Orlando Magic’s inaugural game in the new Amway Center on Sunday, October 10 against New Orleans are sold out. Fans still have an opportunity to score tickets for the game, as a limited number of tickets are available via a partial plan or full season ticket purchase.

Partial plans and full season tickets are available for purchase:

  • Online at www.orlandomagic.com
  • At the Orlando Magic ticket office at the RDV Sportsplex (cash, MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover)
  • By calling 407-89-MAGIC (MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover)

Orlando Magic season tickets, partial plans, group and single-game Amway Center suite rental opportunities are on sale now. Ticket highlights in the new Amway Center include: 2,500 seats priced $15 or less and 7,000 seats priced $25 or less, while supplies last. Single-game tickets for the regular season will go on sale in October. Single-game tickets remain for the Magic’s other three preseason home games, October 14 vs. Charlotte, October 16 vs. Chicago and October 20 vs. Dallas.

Aug 26

Playbook: The 1/2 Pick and Roll

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Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Orlando Magic have a number of pick and roll variations in their playbook. This is not a new revelation. Yet there’s one variation, in particular, that has proven to be lethal in specific situations for the Magic and that’s the 1/2 pick and roll with Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter.

Carter’s career-worst swoon in January was well-documented, as he was unable to do much of anything on offense. However, Carter’s former head coach with the New Jersey Nets — Lawrence Frank — paid a visit to Orlando in early February as a guest of head coach Stan Van Gundy to share his knowledge with the coaching staff and provide a different perspective on things. The irony is that Van Gundy intended for Frank to come sooner, but things couldn’t be worked out with both parties in either December or January. Talk about perfect timing, eh?

Hence the addition of the 1/2 pick and roll in the middle of the regular season, which was a play that Carter was familiar with from his time with the Nets.

And in the fourth quarter of a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers in late February, the 1/2 pick and roll was unveiled by Van Gundy.

Boy, did it work.

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