Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 208

Aug 20

When Hedo Turkgolu Was the NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2008

Aug 20

Daniel Orton in an Orlando Magic Uniform

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Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

Not a bad photo from Daniel Orton. Yes, I’m a few days late with these photos so bear with me.

Aug 19

Thursday’s Magic Word

  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “There is a theory being perpetrated by ESPN’s Skip Bayless that the Van Gundy brothers are simply trying to heap undue pressure on the Heat. If it were any other coach but Stan Van Gundy, I might buy it. StanVan Gundy, at least from my experience, calls them as he sees them, much like his brother Jeff Van Gundy does as an analyst. The fact is, the Heat have put together a virtual Dream Team of talent. Of course, nobody knows how all of these gifted players will mesh together, and the Heat still have to go out and prove they can win a championship. But, on paper, they are the best team ever assembled in the modern-day NBA.”
  • Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com cautions fans to be wary of trade rumors.
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “Can you consistently knock down free throws? If so, you stand a good chance of beating Dwight Howard in H-O-R-S-E. And if you have the money, you can get to play him. Howard is auctioning off the chance to play H-O-R-S-E against him to raise money for Usher’s New Look Foundation. That organization trains youth to be the leaders of tomorrow, and in doing so increases their chances of graduating from high school and going on to college. It’s a good cause, a good place to put your money.”
  • Want to know a team that does an excellent job of defending pick and rolls? Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook says it’s the Orlando Magic: “Orlando is one of the best teams against the pick and roll, and in my opinion they are the best at hedging screens.  This is because they have bigs in Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis who can show and get back to their man quickly.  The goal of hedging is to force the defender to either pick up his dribble or turn towards the middle of the court.  Doing this prevents the ball handler to get the rim and makes a pass harder.”
  • Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie ranks Vince Carter as the 23rd-best shooting guard in the NBA right now: “Yes, I had him sixth last season. Why? Ask any Nets fan who watched him in 2008-09: Carter was a borderline All-Star that season. Not last season, where he floated and occasionally helped and absolutely disappeared in the playoffs. Carter has an all-around game, he can still rebound and make the pass while working a screen-and-roll, and he’s still a threat to shoot his way toward 37 points every so often. But he just never applied himself when the going got tough. Pity.”
  • In the same rankings, J.J. Redick is pegged at 17th. Go figure.
  • Trey Kerby of Ball Don’t Lie: “I don’t know what’s gotten in to the Van Gundy family, but they seem to be suffering from an acute case of Heat stroke. Miami Heat pun zing, for sure. First, Jeff spouted off about Miami breaking every conceivable team record in the history of the NBA, which is to be expected because he’s paid to have opinions. Now, his brother Stan, the Orlando Magic coach — is refusing to take sides against the family and echoing Jeff’s sentiments. Those crazy Van Gundys and their outlandish predictions. [...] In actuality, Stan isn’t totally crazy. I’m not entirely convinced that Dwyane Wade is better than Scottie Pippen. Offensively Wade tops Scottie, no doubt. But when it comes to the other half of the game — defense — there was no better or more disruptive perimeter defender, ever, than Pippen. That’s a big deal, and I’d be willing to offer a tie on that comparison. Furthermore, I will concede Toni Kukoc is not the equal of Chris Bosh, but Bosh’s corollary should probably be Dennis Rodman who is better at rebounding and defense than Bosh, just as much as Bosh is a better offensive player. We can call that one a wash as well, or give a slight nod to the Heat if you’re feeling generous.”

Aug 19

Playbook: The 1/5 Pick and Roll

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Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

The 4-out/1-in offensive scheme that the Orlando Magic employ is the foundation of an offense that features Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, and others. But there are also other plays that the Magic run with frequent regularity.

Like the 1/5 pick and roll.

The pick and roll is like a common household appliance — every team in the NBA runs it to varying degrees of success. The analogy is probably not the best one, but the point is that pick and rolls are the bread-and-butter of many offenses in the league. Head coach Stan Van Gundy has made it his job to utilize the pick and roll as much as possible. And its worked for Orlando.

Up to this point, the Magic of this era are best-known for riding the 3/5 pick and roll with Hedo Turkoglu and Howard all the way to the NBA Finals in 2009. The zenith of the play’s effectiveness was displayed against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, where Turkoglu had a field day initiating Orlando’s offense from the pick and roll. The Cavaliers were helpless to stop it.

However, a lot of people forget the devastation caused by the 1/5 pick and roll with Nelson and Howard in the first half of the 2008-2009 regular season. Before Nelson suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder, he was the proprietor of the pick and roll and it fueled his All-Star campaign. After Nelson got hurt, it took a while for him to get back to that same level but he reached it in the 2010 NBA Playoffs.

That’s where the 1/5 pick and roll will be examined.

Read the rest of this entry »

Aug 19

Additional Commentary on Carmelo Anthony

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Via John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com:

After seeing what transpired in Miami this summer, of course anything can happen in the NBA. But acquiring superstars isn’t easy and to get one you usually must pay a heavy price.

For example, for the [Orlando] Magic to pull off a blockbuster and acquire Anthony it would also mean they likely would have to assume other undesirable contracts. Losing Melo would mean Denver would be starting over, so the Nuggets might also be looking to unload Chauncey Billups ($27.3 million still owed), Nene ($22.9 million still owed) or Kenyon Martin ($16.5 million still owed).

The Magic could trade Vince Carter ($17.3 million) straight up for Anthony ($17.1 million), but it assuredly wouldn’t be that easy. While Orlando holds the team option on the final year of Carter’s contract, few know that there is a $4 million penalty that Carter will get if a team buys him out. Orlando would likely have to throw $3 million (the most allowed by NBA rules) into any trade to make the transaction work.

And for all of his flash, Anthony does have his flaws. He’s an incredible scorer, but he would be taking more shots away from Dwight Howard. And defense and rebounding are but rumors with Anthony. If the Magic could land him without sacrificing too much it would be a no-brainer. But trades of this magnitude are rarely that easy.

It bears repeating that the odds of the Orlando Magic acquiring Carmelo Anthony are slim to none. Even though Anthony, indeed, has leverage in terms of where he wants to go, the Denver Nuggets are still the team that has the pull the trigger. And with the dismissal of Mark Warkentien, vice president of basketball operations, who knows how long it’ll take for the Nuggets to find a suitable replacement. Time will tell.

Oh, but there’s more.

Read the rest of this entry »

Aug 18

Wednesday’s Magic Word

  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “I think Miami’s moves have absolutely lit a fire under players all around the NBA, and more specifically ones in Orlando. Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter, [J.J.] Redick and others have already pointed out that every summer drill and track session is done with Miami in mind. It’s absolutely on this season between the Magic and the Heat. Those four regular-season games will be emotionally charged and likely tune-ups for the Eastern Conference Finals. One more thought to consider: Orlando’s two strongest positions (center with Dwight Howard and point guard with [Jameer] Nelson) are Miami’s two weakest spots. At the end of the day, Miami will still be stuck using Joel Anthony against Howard and Mario Chalmers against Nelson. That could be just enough of an advantage for the Magic to nullify Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and James.
  • Color me skeptical about that last comment.
  • A look back at Dwight Howard’s time spent in India: “It took the Summer of 2010 for the NBA to once again to make its massive presence felt on the Indian shores, and that presence came in the form name of Dwight Howard. Suddenly, ‘Superman’ became sort of the flavor of the month amongst the basketball circles in India, and for a country full of many, many flavors and masalas, he came in as a hell of a big deal. Dwight was in India from August 10-14, sandwiching his visit here between a couple of visits to East Asian countries like China and Taiwan. Although the popularity of the NBA popularity in India still has a long way to go to match those other countries, it has been growing rapidly in recent years. [...] Over the past few days, Howard has brought his message of the joys of basketball to India, visiting Bangalore and New Delhi in his tour. India is a country that sorely lacks modern sport infrastructure and facilities, but Howard said that this shouldn’t deter young players from working on improving their athletic ability.”
  • Head coach Stan Van Gundy on the Miami Heat: “If I look at what the Bulls did winning 72 games and I look at the Heat roster, I am going to tell you that the Heat roster is better than any roster that Michael Jordan played with the Bulls. I don’t think that people predicting them breaking the win total and being in the 70s and the whole thing, I don’t think those are expectations that are out of line based on their roster… Dwyane Wade is certainly, in my opinion anyway, as good as he was, is better than Scottie Pippen. Chris Bosh is better than Toni Kukoc. Mike Miller is every bit as good a shooter as (John) Paxson or (Steve) Kerr or anybody they put there. Plus, he’s 6′8″. If you start going down the list, I don’t think there is any question that the roster the Heat have is as talented a roster if not more so as any roster there has ever been in the NBA.”
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk thinks Van Gundy is engaging in reverse psychology.
  • Where will Chris Paul play in 2013? Orlando could be a possibility: “Naturally, Paul wants to play with a dominant center, and a PG-C tandem of Paul and Dwight Howard would be devastating, perhaps one of the best in league history — just look at what Paul accomplished with Tyson Chandler as his big man in New Orleans. The Hornets are doing all they can to keep Paul happy, but if he still wants out, they’ll have to listen to offers eventually unless they want a disgruntled face of the franchise. The Magic might be able to deliver the best deal out there, a package starting with All-Stars Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter, who has essentially just one year of guaranteed money left on his contract.”
  • Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference takes a look at which offensive rate stats are the most consistent when players change roles on a team. Paine looks at True Shooting Percentage, assist percentage, turnover percentage, free throw rate, and offensive rebound percentage. Here’s what he found: “As far as the correlations themselves go, offensive rebounding % and assist rate seem to be almost completely independent of a player’s role — i.e., if a player has a good assist rate at 15% possession usage, you can basically expect that to be retained even at 25% possession usage, etc. Perhaps it is because those two stats measure tendency as much as ability, although there’s certainly skill being captured in each as well. True shooting % is easily the least consistent stat when a player changes roles, which seems to back up the concept of skill curves. When a player has a high TS% and a low possession %, it may be that his efficiency is inflated by taking relatively easy shots, attempts that comprise a smaller proportion of his shot selection when he is asked to increase his usage. Along the same lines, turnover rate was the 2nd-least consistent offensive rate stat when changing roles, suggesting that not only is shooting % dependent on the player’s usage, but the ability to avoid turnovers is as well. Finally, free throw rate was in the middle of the pack in terms of correlations.”
  • Can intangibles be quantified? Drew Cannon of Basketball Prospectus searches for an answer.

Aug 18

Dwight Howard Having Some Fun in India

Aug 18

Carmelo Anthony and the Orlando Magic

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Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images

Via Royce Young of CBSSports.com:

You’re supposed to believe the Orlando Magic haven’t made any inquiries into Carmelo Anthony’s availability. At least that’s what general manager Otis Smith is telling you.

But we all know better. A tier one superstar is potentially on the block and Smith’s team is in the market for an upgrade at small forward. And as Ken Berger reports , the Magic are one of the teams on top of Anthony’s list. Yeah, I’m sure Smith hasn’t at least asked about ‘Melo’s situation. [...]

Targeting Brandon Bass, Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus means the Nuggets get a good small forward in return, plus two solid big men, a position Denver has been looking to improve this year. (Denver would need to throw in Renaldo Balkman to make numbers work, but if they’re getting back two bigs, it would need to clear out room in the frontcourt anyway.) Yes, it’s a step down from Anthony, but any time you trade one of the top seven or eight players in the league, it’s going to be hard to get a comparable deal. Actually, scratch that, it’s basically impossible. But Denver’s other option is to let Anthony walk and get NOTHING in return. You know, the LeBron/Bosh exit plan. And teams that could offer really intriguing deals like the Clippers (Chris Kaman and Eric Gordon?) evidently aren’t on Anthony’s radar.

Same song and dance.

First it was Chris Paul, now it’s Carmelo Anthony.

It’s been an interesting off-season for the Orlando Magic, simply because they have been linked in trade rumors to some of the best players in the NBA. Paul is a top five player and the best point guard in the league. Anthony is, admittedly, a notch below in skill and value, but still an All-Star caliber talent. And both players, through various reports in the mainstream media, see the Magic as an attractive destination to ply their trade and join forces with Dwight Howard.

Anthony is the latest high-profile player that wants to take his talents to the City Beautiful.

Should Magic fans expect anything to happen with Anthony? No, but Anthony has something that Paul doesn’t — or didn’t — have. Anthony has leverage in the situation because he’s an expiring contract, and in the midst of deciding whether or not to re-sign with the Denver Nuggets for three years, $65 million. As been pointed out elsewhere, it speaks volumes that Anthony has not signed a new contract with the Nuggets when he’s had plenty of chances to do so already.

What does this mean for Orlando? Not much, other than it needs to be stated that there’s a greater chance, albeit a slim one, that general manager Otis Smith can make a play for Anthony if he chooses to do so. Acquiring a talent like Anthony is always tricky because the stars have to align just right, but there’s one thing that will the Magic as the process moves forward. Anthony, unlike Paul, has a lot of power with the situation.

It’s no secret that Anthony would like to join the New York Knicks if possible, but it’s been reported that Orlando is high on his list as well.

Here we go again.

Aug 17

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “If the speculation that Chris Paul wanted to join the Orlando Magic made Magic fans salivate, just wait until the Carmelo Anthony-to-the-Magic rumors gain momentum. Actually, the process already has begun. [...] Anthony obviously would be a huge upgrade for Orlando offensively at small forward. And he’d be a more reliable go-to guy in the fourth quarter than Vince Carter was last season. Orlando could be an attractive landing spot for Anthony. The Magic already are a title contender and have the game’s best center. And, oh yeah, the fact that Florida doesn’t have a state income tax can’t hurt either. Leon Rose, Anthony’s agent, did not immediately return a phone call from the Orlando Sentinel for comment. Anthony has some leverage to force a trade. He can become a free agent next summer, and he has not accepted the three-year, $65 million extension the Nuggets have offered.”
  • Jameer Nelson is conducting his “Building Magic” program in Philadelphia.
  • George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel thinks the Orlando Magic shouldn’t let Adonal Foyle go after he announced his retirement: “So how do you miss a guy who has played only played 62 minutes over the last two seasons? The Orlando Magic will no longer have Adonal Foyle on the bench, sitting there in a stylish sports coat and offering tidbits of advice to Dwight Howard. Most people assumed he was a glorified cheerleader, waving imaginary pom-poms for a cool $1.3 million a year. But his value to the team was measured in other ways.”
  • Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com: “[...] unlike the past at this time of year, it’s the NBA that is on the minds of most sports fanatics. There is a profound curiosity that we all have about this upcoming NBA season. People in Orlando are ecstatic about the newly-established and rapidly evolving Sunshine State rivalry. Everywhere I go around Central Florida, it’s all people want to talk about. I recently went to SeaWorld with family and while standing around a bunch of sea lions at the Pacific Point Preserve, the crowd around me starting talking about the Heat-Magic rivalry. Even the seals seemed to be intrigued by the conversation. Everywhere you go, the NBA is at the forefront of discussions.”
  • Dwight Howard likes to block shots.
  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Denver Nuggets small forward Carmelo Anthony is but the latest NBA megastar to reportedly wish for a trade to the Orlando Magic. [...] If this line sounds familiar, it should, given the multitude of reports earlier this summer about New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul wanting to force a trade to Orlando. Berger reported parts of that narrative as well. The difference in the two situations, as Josh Robbins points out, is that Anthony has leverage, while Paul does not. Anthony will be a free agent next summer and the Nuggets risk losing him for nothing if they do not deal him before February. Further, the Nuggets are believed to be exploring trade possibilities for Anthony.”
  • Ken Berger of CBSSports.com: “Anthony’s hesitation to sign a three-year, $65 million extension with the Nuggets goes beyond his desire to enjoy the major-market exposure and pressure that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade turned down this summer. Melo would accept other destinations as well, and the Magic are believed to be at the top of his list along with the Knicks, according to a person familiar with his strategy.”
  • Why does Carmelo Anthony want to leave the Denver Nuggets?
  • Rob Mahoney of ProBasketballTalk takes a look at Foyle’s impact off the court: “Foyle has long been an important part of the NBPA’s operations, and with negotiations over the terms of a new CBA ongoing, losing an asset like Foyle is a pretty big deal. There are still plenty of ways he can be involved in that process, but losing a direct avenue for Foyle’s knowledge, perspective, and charisma is a loss for the players.”
  • Jameer Nelson is the 11th-best point guard in the NBA, according to Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie: “Nelson is entering his ostensible prime, and if last season’s too-early Eastern Conference finals proved anything, it’s that Nelson needs to put this Magic team on his surgically reconstructed shoulders. He’s never going to be this team’s best player, but a squad’s most important player doesn’t have to be its best player, and you’d think that Nelson can’t help but understand that by now. Maybe I’m being too optimistic for my hopes with him, especially rating him over Kidd, but this is how we roll in summer, before the dyspepsia sets in.”

Aug 17

Longtime Basketball Player and Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame Inductee Adonal Foyle Announces Retirement from NBA

Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

Via the Orlando Magic:

Adonal Foyle, an NBA basketball player with a total of 13 seasons under his belt, announced his retirement from basketball this week. From humble island beginnings, Adonal’s basketball talent was discovered by two Colgate University professors who brought him to the United States and laid the foundation for Foyle’s NBA basketball career spanning both coasts with the Golden State Warriors and the Orlando Magic.

In addition to a noteworthy NBA career, Adonal Foyle’s passion to make a difference has fueled the founding of the Kerosene Lamp Foundation (KLF). Since 2005, KLF has built/refurbished basketball courts in urban areas to provide safe places to play for more than 3,000 youth. KLF’s most recent mentorship program, All-Star Student Athletes, is designed to turn promising young basketball players from Adonal’s native country of St. Vincent & the Grenadines, into successful student-athletes. Foyle was inducted into the Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame for his work with KLF.

“I have loved every minute of the game,” said Foyle. “Retiring is bittersweet as my happiest memories are with the game. I’m looking forward to spending more time on humanitarian issues and mentoring the young basketball players who may need a voice of experience as they embark on their NBA careers.”

Foyle recently completed his third and final season with the Orlando Magic. Prior to that, he spent a decade with the Golden State Warriors, where he began his career as the NBA’s eighth overall draft pick. Foyle holds the Warriors’ all-time record in blocked shots (1,140) and is fifth on their all-time list for offensive rebounds and sixth for defensive rebounds.

Adonal’s education continues beyond the NBA. In addition to plans to support his Kerosene Lamp Foundation, he is finishing up his Masters Degree in Sports Psychology from John F. Kennedy University. Foyle has written a poem to commemorate his love affair with basketball.

It’s official.

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