- Head coach Stan Van Gundy: “I haven’t talked to Pat in a long time, certainly not since any of that. I didn’t take it as big of a deal as what everybody else did. He was upset about some of the things said about some of the players that he now has. I honestly did not mind his criticism of my comments as I said when he mentioned that I was out of line on my comments about Chris Bosh, he had every right to say something about that. I took offense to it and came back at some of the things that he said about Otis [Smith] primarily and his comments. Then just in general just accusing other people of moralizing and things and I had just heard too many things from Pat moralizing things over the years to not be able to laugh at that, that he was taking others to task at that. I didn’t take it as a big deal. He had his say, I had mine, people disagree in these kinds of situations all the time, and it’s no big deal. It didn’t change the way I thought about anybody that’s for sure.”
- For Jameer Nelson, there’s always room for improvement defensively.
- Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel is skeptical that Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson will earn enough playing time in Van Gundy’s rotation once the regular season starts.
- What will Malik Allen‘s role be with the Orlando Magic?
- Friday’s pre-season game between the Magic and the Miami Heat will be like …
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Anderson and Bass entered this preseason needing to accomplish separate goals. For Anderson, it was strengthening his body and becoming a more sound individual defender. Bass had to hit the boards harder and improve his grasp on the team’s defensive rotations. And both have succeeded so far. There are still concerns, though. Bass still needs to become more efficient offensively, as he’s used an estimated 59 possessions to score his 63 points this preseason. But he’s managed to harness his seemingly boundless energy and tenacity, turning it into a much-improved showing in the rebounding area.”
- Check out Dwight Howard‘s new shoes for the NBA year.
- According to SLAM ONLINE, Howard is the fifth-best player in the league. Hard to quibble with that ranking when looking at the numbers, but it is hard to quibble with this critique: “We’ve seen the clip of him working out with Hakeem, but he’s had Ewing as his mentor and his jump shot is still broke. It’s also easy to spin baseline and jam when nobody’s guarding you. Yet, there’s no doubt over time, with focus and confidence, we’ll see the low-post game we crave from Dwight. And when that happens, the Magic will be on their way to a championship parade. […] Dwight has always averaged more turnovers than assists, even more troubling when you consider all of his damn teammates are capable of knocking down threes, save for [Marcin] Gortat, the perfect Dwight backup. Add passing out of the post as a bullet point in his lack of low-post confidence list.”
- First, Howard has low post moves. The author thinks otherwise, however. Second, Howard can pass out of the post and does so very well. The reason why Howard has more turnovers than assists is because many of the “assists” he does get are of the Gretzkyian variety. Meaning, in other words, that Howard accumulates a lot of hockey assists that are not quantified. Look, Howard isn’t a perfect player but critique him for what’s relevant now, not three years ago.
- Zach Lowe of The Point Forward explains why he thinks the Magic are the forgotten contender: “Record aside, the Magic were the best team in the league during the 2009-10 regular season. They had the largest point differential, and they were the only team to rank in the top five in both points per possession and points allowed per possession. They obliterated the league during the second half of the season, posting a 33-8 record, and they swept the Bobcats and Hawks before falling in six games to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals. And yet, that series defeat, combined with the emergence of the new-look Heat and some shrewd signings in Boston this summer, has moved the Magic to the fringes of the championship conversation.”
- The Basketball Jones preview Orlando’s season!
- Not sure how a matchup between the Magic and the Washington Wizards is more must-see than a face-off against that other team in the state of Florida on their regular season home opener, but whatever.
I’d like to send a shout-out to @buttermpancakes on Twitter for compiling this video a few days ago.
Elaine Thompson/AP Photo
The blogosphere is a fascinating place. It really is. When people read something so profound, so enlightening, they want to share this newfound treasure they’ve found to the rest of the world. Or at least try. This is one of those cases.
At FreeDarko, some of the best writers in the NBA universe have been trying to “crack the mystery of Hakeem Olajuwon and his Rockets” for the past few weeks — the articles that have been written are all must-reads.
En lieu of the ongoing storyline regarding Dwight Howard‘s relationship with Olajuwon, today, Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook and Nate Parham of SBN Seattle teamed up to compare the 1995 Houston Rockets and the 2010 Orlando Magic.
It’s a comparison that’s apt, but not perfect, because the Rockets executed a 4-out/1-in offensive scheme on their way to a seemingly improbable championship in 1995.
It’s not a perfect comparison because there are many subtle differences when comparing the Magic to their contemporaries. Houston had Olajuwon, one of the best centers in league history and a magician on offense. Clyde Drexler was a dynamic scorer and an underrated passer throughout his career. Robert Horry was, at that time, at his athletic peak and a versatile player on both ends of the floor. The differences between the two teams can be further broken down, but Pruiti and Parham explain things in much greater detail.
The one thing that stood out in the article, however, was this breakdown:
This begins to bring some clarity to what the Magic lost in Hedo Turkoglu, if that wasn’t already obvious. Although comparing [Vince] Carter, Howard, and [Rashard] Lewis to Drexler, Horry, and Olajuwon appears to make more sense on the surface, the playmaking ability of Turkoglu – and even that of Courtney Lee – made that Magic team far more comparable as a unit in terms of being able to knock down perimeter shots and creating scoring opportunities with ball movement.
An argument is made that the 2009 Magic, not last year’s team, compare more favorably to the ’95 Rockets primarily because of Turkoglu’s playmaking ability at the small forward position. This isn’t to say that Vince Carter isn’t a playmaker because he is, but his playmaking consists of scoring rather than passing. Of course, Carter’s role is determined largely by head coach Stan Van Gundy‘s needs and wants on the roster. More can be said, but make sure to read the analysis.
When critics argue that Orlando can’t win a title with an offensive philosophy that asks for four shooters to surround one low post presence, they seemingly forget the Rockets of yesteryear. It’s true that Howard is no Olajuwon and Houston relied less on three-point shooting, but many of the strategies are the same and that’s what matters when trying to make sense of the current Magic era. Of course, at the end of the day, it’s Howard continued development on offense that will determine if the comparison becomes a reality.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Atlanta Hawks have a new head coach and a new philosophy on offense, but none it mattered.
Despite those subtle changes, the Orlando Magic were able to extend their pre-season winning streak to 20 games after defeating the Hawks by the score of 102-73. The Magic were led by a balanced attack, as five players scored in double-figures. The two individuals that stood out for Orlando were Dwight Howard and Brandon Bass. No, that is not a typo. Howard finished the game with 14 points, 13 rebounds, and one block while Bass had 17 points and eight rebounds. Perhaps one of the more interesting things to take away from the game was the attendance at Philips Arena. Atlanta drew a crowd of 7,571 people. To put that number in perspective, a crowd of 8,516 watched the Magic’s open practice on Sunday at the Amway Center.
I guess there’s better things to do in Hotlanta on a Monday night. In a sense, can’t blame the fans.
Let’s start things off with Howard.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Stan Van Gundy has conducted countless practices during his coaching career, but he rarely has held a team workout quite like the one that unfolded Sunday afternoon inside Amway Center. An announced crowd of 8,516 people streamed into the new building and watch the Orlando Magic run a 5-on-4 transition drill and scrimmage for about 50 minutes. The scene resembled a Midnight Madness event that major college basketball programs put on this time of year. Music blared over the arena loudspeakers as Van Gundy and his players stepped onto the main court. Orlando Magic Dancers waved pompoms. Fans cheered when a player unleashed a dunk or blocked a shot. […] Van Gundy wore a portable microphone, and even people who sat in the upper deck of the cavernous new building could hear his every word.”
- Marcin Gortat likes when the Orlando Magic play tall ball: “I believe we can be really dangerous. Physically, I think we are one of the best in the league. I think the most important thing right now is just I’ve got to work on my game and just be consistent with everything I do.”
- Maybe Vince Carter should pace himself during the regular season.
- The Atlanta Hawks know that the Magic are their kryptonite.
- More from Robbins: “Van Gundy said he’ll employ a starting lineup tonight of Jameer Nelson at point guard, Vince Carter at shooting guard, Quentin Richardson at small forward, Rashard Lewis at power forward and Dwight Howard at center. Lewis will also play some at the three, while both Ryan Anderson and Brandon Bass will play at the four. Marcin Gortat will play primarily at center, especially during the first half. Point guard Chris Duhon and shooting guard J.J. Redick also are expected to receive playing time.”
- Matt Moore of ProBasketballTalk wonders how long Brandon Bass will last in Orlando: “Bass has produced well. His defense is lacking but his real problem is that he’s in a system which doesn’t speak to his talents at all. He’s not a stretch-the-floor guy, he’s a post-player with a slight midrange. Another spot and he could wind up with the minutes he’s been chasing for years. The question is exactly when Orlando will call it quits on the Bass experiment and get some assets that they can use.”
- A scout breaks down the Magic roster for ESPN Insider: “They could use a flat-out scorer off the bench, a Jamal Crawford-type to give them 16-18 points a night. They miss that punch. Vince Carter is not in the killer category. He gives you numbers but won’t buy into really being a good defender. And while he’s not a selfish guy, he’s a selfish scorer, a guy who dominates the ball when he gets it going. Because of Vince, I thought Rashard Lewis didn’t get enough touches last year. In the playoffs, Jameer Nelson’s lack of height and inability to bother opponents defensively hurts them. And then I’ve been told by players in that locker room that Stan Van Gundy’s act has worn thin. He’s a blatant yeller and screamer who’ll throw you under the bus in the press conference after a game. They’ve got too much pride to take the key out of the ignition, but there comes a time when a team completely stops listening to a coach, and I don’t think he’s far from that.”
- Take that quote for whatever it’s worth.
- John Schuhmann of NBA.com attempts to figure out if Orlando is capable of making even more threes this season: “The Magic set a record for 3-pointers made in a season last year, connecting on 841 (10.3 per game). They then went and signed 3-point specialist Quentin Richardson to replace Matt Barnes. […] Still, the addition of Richardson, who was only outdone by James Posey (70.1 percent) and Keith Bogans (65.8 percent) when it comes to taking shots from beyond the arc, should have the Magic challenging their own record. In the preseason, the Magic have attempted 29.3 and made 11.3 threes per game, both increases over last season.”
- According to one NBA scribe, the Magic are projected to finish second in the Southeast Division.
- Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus recaps the Northern California Symposium on Statistics and Operations Research in Sports (NCSSORS for short): “To me, the more practical takeaway is the reminder that individual player ratings are a reflection of many things beside talent. Roles, coaching, motivation and noise all complicate the relationship between ability and performance. As a result, we have to assume a degree of variability in player ratings. Basically, player A has to rate a fair amount better than player B for us to be confident he is truly the superior player–to the extent such a judgment really exists.”
- Is Bass increasing his trade value?
- Ken Berger of CBSSports.com: “Howard has to back up his preseason promises and be more assertive and dominant. Basically, if Miami loading up in free agency doesn’t put Howard on a mission of total destruction, then nothing ever will. But the Magic have issues other than the Heat. First, they have to prove that they’ve recovered from — and have learned from — the thorough beating inflicted on them by the Celtics in the playoffs last spring. They can’t even begin to worry about Wade and LeBron until they put that disappointment behind them. If the Magic are going to take the next step and get back to the NBA Finals, they’re going to need more toughness on the floor. That has to start with Howard.”
“We were fierce competitors,” [Patrick] Ewing said Saturday. “When Hakeem and I faced up, we wanted to kill each other.”
Ewing was only half-laughing.
Their careers have been intertwined, from college to the NBA. There is more respect between them than reverence, however.
Dwight Howard, innocently enough, has stepped right into the Ewing-Olajuwon rivalry to learn the game from two of the game’s best big men.
Ewing has had Howard under his considerable wing-span for the last three seasons as a Magic assistant coach.
Olajuwon cut in, so to speak. He contacted Howard during the playoffs and a relationship blossomed, leading to Dwight training five three-hour days with Olajuwon this summer.
If Ewing is bothered by either Howard seeking another big-man guru or by Olajuwon’s unsolicited advice, he doesn’t show it. […]
Ewing said all that matters is growing Howard’s game and keeping him on the hall-of-fame path already traveled by Pat and Hakeem.
This article was going to come, sooner or later. Once it became know that Dwight Howard worked out with Hakeem Olajuwon in Houston during the off-season for a week, one of the first questions asked was ‘what does Patrick Ewing think about this?’
Ewing, of course, is the assistant coach of the Orlando Magic and has been Howard’s mentor, of sorts, for the past three years. And any hardcore NBA fan knows that Ewing and Olajuwon have a history with each other — most notably in the 1994 NBA Finals, when Ewing’s New York Knicks faced off against Olajuwon’s Houston Rockets. The Rockets won the series in seven games and for Ewing, it would be the closest he’d get to winning a championship. So, in a way, it makes sense for someone to think that Ewing would disapprove of Howard working with Olajuwon. The rationale being that Ewing’s competitive edge would blind him to the idea of a competitor, a rival in the ’90s, helping one of his players. It’s encroachment. Yet at the same time, that line of thinking doesn’t make much sense. It’s Howard’s choice. Ewing is irrelevant in this conversation.
To be frank, Dan Savage of OrlandoMagic.com said it best about Ewing:
He wants Dwight Howard to improve his game as much as any other coach on the Magic and he’s encouraged Dwight, he’s helped Dwight reach out to these people, so I don’t think there’s any sort of controversy there between Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon. Patrick Ewing wants what’s best for Dwight Howard, he wants what’s best for this team and ultimately, I think Patrick wants to be a head coach in this league and the best way for Patrick to become a head coach in this league is for the Magic to win a championship and the best way for the Magic to win a championship is for Dwight Howard to become the best player he can be.
Which is why, for Magic fans, it’s reassuring to see that Ewing doesn’t mind that Howard sought out to learn from another teacher. In the end, it makes all too much sense in the world.
Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images
Hawks: Peachtree Hoops
Recaps: All Previews
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: Magic forward Malik Allen said he hadn’t thought about what happened to him in Orlando three years ago. And that, folks, is a good thing. A great thing, actually. It means Malik’s ticker is ticking like it should. Allen was with the Chicago Bulls in 2007 when he suddenly left the bench during the second quarter of a game against the [Orlando] Magic. He had developed an irregular heartbeat — heart arrhythmia — and had to be taken to an Orlando hospital for an eventual two-day stay after being evaluated by Magic team doctors. Cardiologists in Chicago later diagnosed his condition as atrial fibrillation, the most common type of arrhythmia, affecting about 2.2 million Americans. Obviously, Allen passed all the tests and is fine today. He did reveal to me that he has only had to use medication once to blunt a mini-episode since that scary night in Orlando.”
- Daniel Orton‘s knee is fine. Now he needs to lose weight.
- Want to know why there was a lighting malfunction at the Amway Center last night? Here’s the answer: “Magic spokesman Joel Glass said that the arena’s main lights typically are shielded to darken the arena when the home starters are introduced. But Glass said someone on Thursday actually turned off the lights instead of covering them. The lights then had to cool off before they would illuminate again.”
- More from Schmitz: “It’s no secret that Magic power forward Brandon Bass wants to find a place to play, whether it’s in Orlando or somewhere else. And the way he’s played lately, he might get his wish — and my guess is the Magic are only waiting for the right deal to come along. Bass is showcasing his talents for other teams, such as the Indiana Pacers, who need power-forward help. Trouble is, the Pacers want to give up Dahntay Jones or Solomon Jones. I can’t imagine the Magic being interested, unless the Pacers give up a first-round pick. Bass put together his second consecutive solid game Thursday night, and you know what was odd about it? Coach Stan Van Gundy started his second team and the rainy-day lineup didn’t include Bass. So he wasn’t even in the top 10.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel assesses the Magic’s pre-season up to this point.
- Get to know more about Jason Williams.
- Brandon Bass has been improving, especially on defense.
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post chimes in on the impact Quentin Richardson and Chris Duhon have been able to make for Orlando. Needless to say, Richardson and Duhon are glad they’re not with the Knicks anymore.
- Some locker room observations from the Magic’s win against the Charlotte Bobcats last night: “Bobcats forward Darius Miles visited Richardson in the Magic’s locker room immediately following the game. Miles was already decked out in designer jeans, a collared shirt, a baseball cap, and top-of-the-line headphones, while Richardson had only just emerged from the shower. The former Clippers teammates chatted privately in front of Richardson’s locker for a few minutes before Miles departed.”
- According to Trey Kerby of The Basketball Jones, head coach Stan Van Gundy is a “screaming, mustachioed class act.”
- Ben Golliver of CBSSports.com thinks Van Gundy set a dangerous precedent with his apology.
- Want to gain NBA knowledge? Listen to this podcast.
- Dwight Howard thinks he’ll get accustomed to the new technical foul rule, thanks to prep school. Here’s what Howard had to say: “I went to a private school growing up. They had a lot of crazy rules, rules you didn’t agree with, rules you didn’t necessarily think were right, but you just had to (live by them). They want us to cut down on talking to the refs, as hard as that may be. We’ve adjusted to everything else that’s put out there. So we’ll adjust.”
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “Van Gundy had every right to see his backups play and see how they would do — it’s preseason. But credit the coach for seeing the big picture and feeling bad about it.”