Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 200

Oct 05

Magic Basketball Featured in Pro Basketball Prospectus 2010-11


Fernando Medina/NBA/

Last shameless plug of the day.

For a second year in a row, I was tabbed by Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus to provide brief analysis on the Orlando Magic (alongside Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post) for the latest edition of Pro Basketball Prospectus series.

Here’s what I wrote:

In the state of Florida, all eyes will be on the Miami Heat. But if there’s somebody that is worth keeping tabs on for the Orlando Magic, it’s Dwight Howard. After losing to the Boston Celtics in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals, Howard enlisted the help of Hakeem Olajuwon during the summer so that he could continue to expand and improve his low-post game. Given what’s at stake for the Magic, Howard must take his skills to the next level if he wants to lead his team to the promised land. Howard is the best defensive player in the NBA, but there’s no question that he needs to be equally as dominant on offense for Orlando to win a championship. Olajuwon’s wisdom is invaluable, in this case, because he’s been telling Howard not to be afraid to use his full arsenal of moves and not hesitate from doing anything on the floor. Can Howard fully evolve into a devastating two-way player? We’ll find out soon enough.

Make sure to pick up a copy of Pro Basketball Prospectus 2010-11.

It’s worth the investment. You’ll become a smarter NBA fan after reading the book.

Oct 05

Interview With Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference


Kristy Cannon/

The statistical revolution in the NBA continues to evolve, but one person that’s been at the forefront of the new wave of numbers and deserves more limelight is Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference.

Paine is one of the brightest minds in the APBRmetrics community, with some of his most notable contributions including the introduction of statistical plus/minus — which was a regression invented by Dan Rosenbaum — to a widespread audience and daily upkeep of the BBR Blog that includes a lot of insightful analysis of the NBA (including some articles that have sparked intense debate).

I’m also proud to say that I’ve collaborated with Paine in the past, conducting some quick-and-dirty research on Grant Hill and the ‘what if’ scenario involving the Orlando Magic. Click here for more information if that description is either interesting, vague, or both.

I’ve interviewed Paine in the past, but this is the first time I’ve conducted a Q/A with him since Magic Basketball was born nearly seven months ago. As always, it’s a pleasure to chat with Paine and gather his musings whenever possible.

A few days ago, I was able to ask Paine a few questions about the Magic, how they stack up against the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference, and more.


A lot of people have said that the Orlando Magic matchup favorably with the Miami Heat because Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard are superior to their counterparts on the other side of the coin, assuming that either Carlos Arroyo or Mario Chalmers is the starter at point guard. What’s your take on that? Is that advantage enough to overcome the enormous advantages the Heat have at the other three positions?

The Magic definitely have certain areas where they are stronger than the Heat, and Dwight Howard in particular creates an interesting matchup for a Miami team that (I’m assuming) is going to be one of the most aggressive rim-attacking squads of all-time. One major question is whether Howard has improved his ability to make a defensive impact without fouling; if so, his presence inside could alter Miami’s game plan and take them away from some of their strengths. As for point guard, I’m not entirely sure [Jameer] Nelson‘s advantage matters so much as long as Miami finds somebody who can defend the position, because on offense LeBron is basically going to be their de facto PG.

The biggest advantage Orlando has is that they have a strong defense — led by a truly great defensive coach — which could possibly serve as the antidote to Miami’s #1 strength, their all-world offense. And at the other end of the court, the Magic have a solid offense that could take advantage of Miami’s biggest unknown quantity, their D.

Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 04

Monday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Have the Orlando Magic improved? Did Dwight Howard diversify his offensive game over the summer? Will free-agent signees Quentin Richardson and Chris Duhon make a positive impact? We’ll begin to find out at 8:30 Tuesday night. The Magic will open their preseason schedule against the Houston Rockets in Hidalgo, Texas, a city just a few outlet passes from the Mexico border. [...] Much has been made about Howard’s summertime workout sessions with Hakeem Olajuwon. Tonight, Howard might unveil some nuances to his offensive game. Howard will face a formidable obstacle when he matches up against 7-foot-6 Rockets skyscraper Yao Ming. Olajuwon told Howard not to be afraid to try new things on the court, so don’t be surprised if Howard attempts a few midrange jumpers and perhaps a few turnaround jumpers.”
  • More from Robbins: “J.J. Redick played extended minutes during the 2009 playoffs, and the momentum from that experience carried over into the 2009-10 regular season. The shooting guard now hopes for a repeat of sorts. He played well during the 2010 playoffs, and he feels confident as a new season approaches. Still, Redick did not ease up this offseason, despite his new three-year, $19 million contract. He was back in the gym the day after he and his wife returned from their honeymoon in Europe. Redick focused on his ball-handling and on in-between shots like floaters and runners. He also did Pilates twice a week, and he said he feels stronger.”
  • Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel keeps track of Brandon Bass‘ progress on defense in training camp. This is a storyline to keep an eye on.
  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Everybody and their uncle has been asking Dwight Howard to expand his game. Well, Dwight says he will be adding something new to it: Silence. Howard had clearly expanded his game the past few seasons to include more barking at the referees. At times, his complaining has been dominating, impressive in its sheer volume and startling accumulation of technical fouls. It has become as much a part of his arsenal as his mighty array of dunks, blocks and Twitter followers, for crying out loud. With the NBA police vowing to crack down on the players’ behavior with the refs, Howard said Sunday that he’ll try harder to bite his tongue and downsize his demonstrative debates. This is a good thing.”
  • Head coach Stan Van Gundy on Ryan Anderson: “He’s physically just an entirely different player than he was a year ago. I think that Ryan’s got a chance to be a guy in this league that can get 15 [points] and eight [rebounds] on a nightly basis. He’s a hell of a rebounder. He’s got great offensive instincts. The offensive end of the court comes pretty easily to him.”
  • For Rashard Lewis, pre-season basketball is important for him to build momentum.

  • Van Gundy hasn’t set the rotation for tomorrow’s game against the Houston Rockets.
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk provides commentary on Howard’s vow to complain less.
  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post with a must-read article about his tour of the Amway Center on Friday: “The Magic and the City of Orlando didn’t waver in their vision for this facility. Small touches inextricably link the building to the Central Florida area, including artwork based on the orange-crate labels of local citrus growers, as well as the aforementioned Church Street Station decorations in Jernigan’s, which itself owes its name to the city. Further, 120 local companies participated in the project, including thirteen from the Parramore community. The point here, in this post, is that Amway Center is truly a special facility whose ties to the area go beyond the superficial.”
  • John Hollinger of ESPN Insider forecasts the upcoming season for each player on the Orlando Magic roster. Hollinger is particularly bullish on Anderson, and for good reason: “Keep an eye on this guy — I’ve always thought of him as a poor man’s Troy Murphy, but he was better than Murphy last season on a per-minute basis. In fact, Anderson nearly led the team in points per 40 minutes, finishing 0.1 behind [Vince] Carter and ahead of Howard. While Anderson got lost in the Magic’s deep frontcourt in the second half of the season, his acquisition was an underrated heist by Orlando as a sidebar to the VC trade. As a matter of fact, both Anderson’s shooting and per-40-minute rebounding were dramatically better than those of the man starting ahead of him, Rashard Lewis. Only his defensive shortcomings kept him on the bench. Anderson shot 37 percent on 3s while taking more than half his shots from distance, and he shot a respectable 50.3 percent on 2s as well — something he had struggled with as a rookie. If he continues scoring and plays even remotely acceptable defense, the Magic need to seriously upgrade his playing time.”

Oct 04

Amway Center Community Open House Draws Approximately 45,000 Residents


Gary Bassing/Orlando Magic

Via the Orlando Magic:

Approximately 45,000 Central Floridians attend the Amway Center community open house on Saturday, October 2, 2010.  The event was free and open to the public and gave Orlando residents a first-hand look at the multiple fan amenities and state-of-the-art technology at the new Amway Center.

Central Floridians peruse the Orlando Magic Team Shop presented by adidas during the Amway Center community open house on Saturday, October 2, 2010.  The event was free and open to the public and gave Orlando residents a first-hand look at the multiple amenities and state-of-the-art technology at the new Amway Center.

Oct 04

Watch Out for Mickael Pietrus This Season

Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Via John Denton of

When Mickael Pietrus got word this summer that Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy was flying to Paris to chat with him, the good-natured, but sometimes quirky Magic swingman got somewhat worried. After all, it was Pietrus who vowed that he would be “sleeping with one eye open,” this summer because he feared an offseason trade that would have him playing elsewhere.

But much to Pietrus’ delight, he and Van Gundy spent much of their time in the City of Lights munching on French pastries. They met with Pietrus’ family, they joked and made small talk and even took a brief tour of some of the tourist sights in Paris. And in the midst of the get-to-know-you-better session, they even talked some basketball.

For Pietrus, a thoughtful type who deeply values friendship and family, the visit from Van Gundy meant everything to him. And it’s the Magic who are now reaping the benefits with Pietrus feeling fully welcomed to the Magic and playing as well as any wing player in training camp. His eyes light up when up the topic turns to his meeting with Van Gundy and the effect it had on his mindset.

“It meant so much to me. I’m not going to lie to you, I was very surprised that he came,’’ said Pietrus, a native of the French-speaking Caribbean island of Guadeloupe and a Paris resident in the offseason. “What I liked about it was that when coach came to Paris it wasn’t like we were talking about why I wasn’t playing more or why I was only getting a few shots. It was about coach coming to see me like a member of my family. I showed him how people love me in France. I took him on a tour of France. We ate a little French cake.”

“We talked about basketball and the upcoming season,’’ Pietrus said. “I’ve never had a problem with coach, to me he’s a great coach and he’s a part of my family. We’ve always had a great relationship, but we needed a deeper relationship.’’

That relationship has seemed to spark Pietrus and bring out the best in him so far. Van Gundy has talked openly to Pietrus about the need for him to shoot for becoming an All-Defense selection this season. He wants him to solve the mystery that has made him an erratic enigma at times in Orlando and become a consistent rock that the Magic can count on nightly.

It’s safe to say that Mickael Pietrus is going to be a very important player for the Orlando Magic this season, now more than ever. The argument behind whether or not Pietrus should start at small forward for the Magic is somewhat irrelevant. What matters is that Pietrus plays to the best of his abilities when he’s on the court.

Pietrus’ calling card, when he performs at his peak, is three-point shooting and defense. Pietrus, like the Bruce Bowen’s of the world, is a prototypical “three-and-D” player that is on the floor to provide the requisite perimeter defense required to slow down the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and other elite scorers in the NBA. And with the extremely harsh reality that the Miami Heat have the aforementioned James and Wade on their roster, while Paul Pierce and Kobe Bryant handle the main scoring duties for the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers respectively, it becomes clear that Pietrus’ defense will need to be at its best if the Magic want to beat these teams.

What’s fascinating is that head coach Stan Van Gundy, by making a visit to Paris during the off-season, may finally coerce all the latent potential that has resided in Pietrus since he arrived in the league in 2003.

Pietrus is a player with enormous physical gifts and athleticism, yet his worst enemy has been himself. Consistency, as well as the random injury here and there, has always been an issue for Pietrus, which is why it’s a pleasure to watch him play when he’s locked in on both sides of the ball (just watch the 2009 NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers).

That’s the player the Magic need this season — a lights-out shooter and a rugged defender that makes the likes of James work hard for their points.

It’s early, but it’ll be interesting to see if Pietrus can transfer his “unbelievable” effort in training camp to the regular season when the time comes.

Pietrus is unequovically Orlando’s best perimeter defender and since last year, one of his goals has been to be named to the All-Defensive team.

Can Pietrus do it this year? Time will tell.

Oct 04

Orlando Magic Launch

Via the Orlando Magic:

The Orlando Magic have announced the launch of, the new and improved Spanish website which serves as the official source for the Hispanic community to obtain original content and coverage of the Magic, including in-depth game coverage, breaking news, features, video clips, photo galleries, podcasts and more.

In an effort to further connect to the growing Hispanic fan base in Central Florida, the new site features up-to-the-minute news articles, press releases and team information in Spanish.

The new site features a design and a homepage similar to The look and functionality of the new site was a collaboration between the Orlando Magic’s web team and the NBA’s internet services team.

The new site will feature:

  • A clean design that makes the page easy to navigate.
  • An expedient and eye-catching navigation field that will include information about tickets, team, and community events.
  • A well-located news board that includes news articles, features and the latest press releases.
  • An area where fans can find information about upcoming contests, the latest photo galleries, Spanish podcasts by Magic radio broadcasters Joey Colón and Ramón Rivas and videos created for our Spanish community.
  • The homepage will feature a top story media player with in-depth coverage of all news related to the Orlando Magic, including feature articles, community events and blog postings.
  • Up-to-the-minute scores on recent games and information on upcoming Magic contests through our social media outlets including Twitter (@El_OrlandoMagic) and Facebook (Orlando Magic en Español), both updated in Spanish.
  • The most recent Twitter messages generated by poured directly onto a section on the homepage for quick and easy viewing.
  • A section that will showcase video analysis after each home game by Joey Colón.
  • A direct link to the Orlando Magic Team Store, presented by adidas, where visitors can purchase the latest Orlando Magic merchandise.
  • A direct link to the Spanish site for

Oct 04

2010-2011 NBA Blog Previews: Central Division


Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images


Bucks: Brew HoopNBAMateSBNation Recap

Bulls: Blog-A-BullSBNation Recap

Cavs: Fear The SwordWaitingForNextYear

Pacers: Indy Cornrows

Pistons: DetroitBadBoysDetroit BasketballNeed4Sheed.comSB Nation Detroit

Recaps: All Previews

Oct 01

The Wait is Over; the Amway Center is Open for Business

Photo by Fernando Medina

Via the Orlando Magic:

For years, the city of Orlando has generally been branded as the place where Mickey Mouse roams, Shamu performs and kids play.

Although that certainly has not changed, there is a new item on the docket for everyone to enjoy and admire.

Amway Center, which officially opened on Friday during a memorable ribbon-cutting ceremony, is now another item on the checklist.

The new home of the Orlando Magic is undoubtedly the most technologically advanced sports and entertainment facility in North America. There are 1,100 high definition video displays at the dazzling venue.

After a very elaborate ceremony outside the main entrance, thousands of people piled into the Amway Center for Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s annual State of Downtown Address.

Oct 01

Friday’s Magic Word

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “While the celebration of the new place was going on up the street, the old place was eerily quiet. It was sunny and green and clean outside, but dark and desolate and dusty inside. And nearly abandoned. Except for a skeletal crew of workers, there was no sign of life in a building that had first given us music and laughter and indoor football and, yes, dunks, from Shaq to Dwight [Howard], for 21 years. Amway Arena was officially left behind on Friday by Amway Center, The Next Generation. I headed out to say goodbye to the old gal, taking a familiar route — I-4, Colonial and a left past Lake Dot — for the last time. It was a path I had traveled to cover hundreds and hundreds of games since the [Orlando] Magic were born in 1989. I don’t know what the traffic was like for the grand opening at Amway Center, but this trip felt like a scene out of “I Am Legend,” when Will Smith had the city to himself after a virus outbreak.”
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “If anyone wondered how Jameer Nelson would approach the Orlando Magic’s training camp this year, he answered that question at the end of the first 5-on-5 scrimmage. Crouched in a perfect defensive stance, his weight on the balls of his feet, Nelson crowded the opposing team’s point guard. When the ball-handler dribbled left, Nelson sprinted to his right, never giving up an inch of space. When a much larger player attempted to set a pick, Nelson fought through it, absorbing a glancing blow on his left shoulder. The man Nelson was covering had nowhere to go. That sequence typifies the way Nelson has responded to challenges this week. Coach Stan Van Gundy wants Nelson to improve his man-to-man defense, particularly against quicker point guards, and Nelson has responded. President of Basketball Operations Otis Smith wants Nelson to be a more vocal leader, and teammates say that Nelson has obliged.”
  • The story of how the Amway Center was born.
  • The city of Orlando is thrilled about the new arena.
  • Vince Carter sat out of today’s practice with a sore ankle. Head coach Stan Van Gundy has the details: “He’s got a little bit of swelling, and it’s been a little tender. It’s actually been bothering him for a couple of days a little bit, and he’s continued to go on it, which probably hasn’t helped. He tried to go today. He went in and got more treatment while we were getting warmed up and was going to try to go, but he decided he couldn’t.”
  • Van Gundy wants to see Dwight Howard back down his defenders on the low block.
  • John Denton of “Small forward is familiar territory for [Rashard] Lewis, who spent the first nine years of his career in Seattle playing on the wing. But in Orlando, head coach Stan Van Gundy to some degree revolutionized the ‘stretch four’ position, using a front line player to predominantly shoot 3-pointers and leave the middle of the floor open for Dwight Howard. [...] Brandon Bass worked on film study and closely with assistant coach Patrick Ewing to become a better defender at power forward, and [Ryan] Anderson re-shaped his body in an attempt to be quicker and stronger. Either could start at power forward and center Marcin Gortat could also see time there because of his defensive and rebounding prowess. But Van Gundy admitted on Thursday that he’s still somewhat leery about changing a formula (i.e. Lewis at power forward) that’s brought so much success to the Magic. The likelihood is that Lewis will start at power forward with newcomer Quentin Richardson getting the nod at small forward. While Van Gundy said he wants no part of a revolving starting lineup, he does want to the flexibility to change styles during games and against particular foes.”
  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Really, just appreciate that the fact that the arena’s very existence ensures the Magic will continue to call Central Florida home for the forseeable future. It’s not a great time for NBA teams in small markets looking to improve their facilities; the Sacramento Kings, for instance, just came up against a big obstacle in their efforts to obtain land for a new arena, continuing to fuel rumors they could flee for Kansas City, Las Vegas, or another town hungry for an NBA team. They have until the end of February to file for relocation. While I believe the DeVos family is committed to keeping the Magic in Orlando, I do think the same scenario the Kings are facing now is one with which the Magic could have been confronted had the arena measure not passed.”
  • Matt Moore of chimes in on Ryan Anderson’s contract being extended by the Orlando Magic: “Anderson compares favorably to OKC’s Jeff Green, as a perimeter power forward. Anderson’s rebounding numbers actually are favorable to Green. Anderson still needs help at the defensive end, but even that gap in his game is closing quickly. It’s no wonder the Magic are clinging to him. With the Magic talking more about moving Lewis more to the small forward spot, there will be opportunities for Anderson. The question is if they’ll mazimize their use of him or if he’ll continue to add to the ranks of Magic frontcourt guys who are disgruntled with their lot. Marcin Gortat’s not happy with not getting touches, and Brandon Bass could not be more stressed out with being buried on the depth chart. Lewis is still the best flex-forward player they have, but Anderson’s potential was enough for the Magic to go ahead and lock him up, even as they continue to struggle with the luxury tax.”
  • Make sure to become a fan of Orlando Pinstriped Post on Facebook. Magic Basketball will have its own page next week, so stay tuned for that.
  • Daniel Orton will miss the pre-season to rehab his left knee.
  • Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference: “In the realm of APBRmetrics, perhaps no stat has as many alternate versions (many under essentially the same confusingly interchangeable name) as “Assist Ratio/Rate”. All theoretically attempt to measure passing ability, but each version has its own quirks and biases. Today I want to compare all of the versions I can think of, and show a leaderboard (minimum 500 MP) for each to get a better feel for what each is measuring [...]“
  • Ball Don’t Lie bids farewell to Trey Kerby, who is moving on to work at The Score in Toronto.

Oct 01

Orlando Magic Exercise Fourth-Year Option on Ryan Anderson

Fernando Medina/NBA/

Via the Orlando Magic:

The Orlando Magic have exercised their fourth-year team option on forward Ryan Anderson, President of Basketball Operations/General Manager Otis Smith announced today. Per team policy, terms of the deal are not disclosed. Anderson is now under contract through the 2011-12 season.

Anderson (#33, 6’10”, 240, 5/6/88) played in 63 games last season for the Magic, averaging 7.7 ppg. and 3.2 rpg. in 14.5 minpg., while shooting .370 (78-211) from three-point range. He started in six outings, averaging 15.0 ppg. and 5.0 rpg. in 25.6 minpg. during that span. Anderson also appeared in nine playoff games, averaging 2.6 ppg. and 3.4 rpg. in 9.9 minpg.

Originally selected in the first round (21st overall) of the 2008 NBA Draft by New Jersey, Anderson was acquired by the Magic from the Nets, along with Vince Carter, in exchange for Rafer Alston, Tony Battie and Courtney Lee on June 25, 2009. He has played in 129 career NBA regular season games with New Jersey and Orlando, averaging 7.6 ppg. and 4.0 rpg. in 17.2 minpg, while shooting .368 (147-400) from three-point range.

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