Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 216

Aug 02

Dwight Howard’s Thoughts on the Miami Heat

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Dwight Howard was back in his hometown Friday, thrilling a group of kids from the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Atlanta who had no idea the Orlando Magic star and Atlanta native was coming for lunch. But before he took questions, he had one request.

“Please, no questions about the Miami Heat,” he said. “I was just over in China for two weeks and that’s all I heard: ‘What do you think about LeBron?’”

Nonetheless, Howard granted this corner of the blogosphere a few minutes to discuss a few items of interest to Atlanta fans: The Heat, the Hawks and Shaquille O’Neal. [...]

On fans conceding the Eastern Conference to the Heat, following the free agent signings of James and Chris Bosh and the re-signing of Dwyane Wade: “We don’t think about it like that. They’ve still got to play games. It looks good on paper. It looks good playing a video game. But this is real life. We’re looking forward to playing them. They’re going to be a real good team but that doesn’t mean they’re going to win a championship.”

A little late with this one.

The purpose of this post isn’t to provide commentary on Dwight Howard’s comments, but instead expand upon his thoughts on the Miami Heat and their potential as a team next season. The games won’t start until late October, when the 2010-2011 NBA regular season gets underway, but that hasn’t stopped a number of statisticians from crunching the numbers and coming up with various projections for how the Heat may fare. Despite the inherent differences in the systems, adjusted plus/minus, statistical plus/minus, PER, and WARP come to similar conclusions.

Miami is going to be good.

Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference, using statistical plus/minus:

Like Hollinger, we’ll be conservative with the expected values next season… Let’s give LeBron a +11 (which would be his lowest since 2006-07), Wade a +8 (basically what he did in 2006), and Bosh +3 (a little less than his mark from 2009). Also, we’ll use -3 as our replacement-player value, so we’ve got 3,100 minutes of James at +11, 2,850 minutes of Wade at +8, 2,600 minutes of Bosh at +3, and 11,130 minutes of -3 replacement-level ballers. How many games would that team win?

Doing the math, that allocation of minutes works out to a projected +7.95 efficiency differential. Wanna know which team had at least a +7.95 differential last season? Only one: the Orlando Magic, who were +8.12. Traditionally, a +7.95 differential buys you 61 wins, which is actually exactly what Hollinger came up with. So in the absolute worst case, the Heat win 61 games next season with their Big Three, and are the best team in the East, if not the league. And what if they merely play at last year’s levels?

Expect a +10.6 differential, which equals 68 wins.

… and adjusted plus/minus:

APM paints an even rosier picture for the “Holy Trinity” (or whatever we’re going to call them)… Last year, James had a +18.52 rating, 2nd only to Dwight Howard, and Wade was 4th with +16.09, while Bosh had “only” a +6.97 rating. Mark them down for even +10, +6, and +5, respectively (their 5-year low-water marks when healthy), and with Hollinger’s expected minutes this team would have a +7.0 differential, good for 59 wins. And remember, that’s if they are as bad as they’ve been in 5 years, surrounded by nothing by the cream of the NBDL’s crop.

If they play like they did last year, the Heat’s differential would be a monstrous, Redeem Team-esque +21.2, which I can’t even give a wins estimate for because it breaks the linear equation that relates efficiency differential to winning % (it would have them winning more than 100% of their games). No team has ever had that kind of performance in the history if the NBA, meaning there is a pretty decent chance they’d obliterate the ’96 Bulls’ record for most wins in a season.

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Aug 02

The Orlando Magic Are Spending to Win

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Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Via Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post:

Mark Deeks, who runs the indispensable ShamSports.com, has updated that site with nearly complete salary information on every NBA team, including the Orlando Magic; the only Magic contract figure on which he’s unsure is J.J. Redick‘s. That’s the link you should consult for every salary-related need you have, and not just for the Magic. Not counting Redick’s salary, the Magic are on the hook for over $85 million this season, and that’s before adding the dollar-for-dollar luxury tax payment. Orlando management is indeed shelling out to put a winning team on the floor this season.

There’s no question that it’s a great time to be a Magic fan, now more than ever. The Orlando Magic are set to unveil the Amway Center in October. Dwight Howard is a top five player and one of the more engaging personalities in the NBA. The players for the Magic are a likable group of guys, led by a fiery head coach — Stan Van Gundy – and an excellent coaching staff. But almost none of this would be possible without Orlando’s front office that has shown the commitment to win. And the Magic are chasing the ever-elusive “gold ball” (the Larry O’Brien trophy), as president of basketball operations Otis Smith likes to put it sometimes, by opening up the checkbook with Rich DeVos’ blessing. Five years ago, it would have been unheard of for Orlando to financially support a payroll that is more than $90 million. Yet that is today’s reality. My how things have changed.

Don’t take anything for granted, though.

The golden era of the Magic is going to go away, sooner or later. It’s happened once, and it’ll happen again. Nevertheless, savor the moment.

Jul 30

Ryan Anderson Doin’ Work in the Off-Season

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Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Via Dan Savage of OrlandoMagic.com:

This offseason has been all about blood, sweat and tears for Ryan Anderson.

Literally.

The [Orlando] Magic forward, who’s about to enter into his third NBA season, recently emerged from the RDV Sportsplex training room with blood dripping down his brow. He’d been intensely working out all day and finally fatigue caught up with him. During an early afternoon lifting session, he banged a weight off the top of his nose, splitting the lower part of his brow.

While that incident might force some players to call it quits, Anderson paid it no mind and ventured off to his third workout session of the day, boxing at a local gym.

After all, It’s now become habitual this offseason for Anderson to take part in a vigorous three-a-day training routine that features lifting, shooting and various cardio/core workouts. [...]

The 22 year old has a lot he wants to accomplish before the start of Orlando’s 2010-11 campaign, including physically developing his body to help him battle with some of the stronger players at his position.

Three-a-days! Whew.

There’s no question that Ryan Anderson is doing everything he possibly can to make his summer a productive one from a basketball standpoint. And it’s great to see that Anderson is trying to get stronger with the help of strength and conditioning coach Joe Rogowski — a name Magic fans should become more familiar with. In a recent edition of Magic Basketball Mailbag, a reader asked me what Anderson should work on in the off-season. My answer? Anderson needs to get stronger, more so to aid in his efforts defensively, and that’s what he’s doing. Smart.

People should be excited to see the end result of Anderson’s hard work, especially with Rogowski pushing his body to the limits every day. One of Rogowski’s claim to fame was his ability to chisel out a muscular physique for J.J. Redick, who now has the proper frame to handle the rigors of playing in the NBA.

The potential is there for Anderson to be stronger than ever, too.

If Anderson can put that new-found muscle to good use against opposing power forwards and battle them effectively one-on-one, where he tends to struggle the most defensively (his team defense is fine), then he’s going to see plenty of time on the floor given his tremendous ability to score in a variety of ways on offense.

Jul 30

NBA All-Star Dwight Howard Launches Third Annual Old Spice Basketball Camp for Charity August 2-4

Photo by Photo Agency

Via the Orlando Magic:

WHO: Orlando Magic All-Star Dwight Howard

WHAT: Kids ages 7-18 are invited to join NBA All-Star Dwight Howard for basketball fundamentals and fun. Each day, the campers will experience various stations, specializing in fundamental skills and the team concept of basketball.

Individual groups will be small to assure that each camper gets maximum instruction from the top coaches in the Orlando area. Daily games will be a staple in the Dwight Howard Basketball Camp.

In addition, all registered campers of the 2010 Dwight Howard Basketball Camp will receive nine hours of expert instruction, an autographed camp team photo, an official camp T-shirt and an opportunity to compete and win prizes.

WHERE: University of Central Florida –
UCF Arena, Bldg. 50 North Gemini Blvd, Orlando, FL, 32816

WHEN: AUGUST 2-4, 2010
• Session (1) 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (Ages 7-11)
• Session (2) 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. (Ages 12-18)

Jul 30

Interview with David Steele, Part II

Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

Here’s Part II of my interview (click here for Part I) with David Steele, the television play-by-play announcer for the Orlando Magic. In this segment, David talks about the most memorable Magic game he’s ever seen and more.

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Before announcing a basketball game, how do you get prepared?

The thing is, Eddy, you’re preparing all the time. Now there is so much information available. Your website is one great option to see what opinion-makers are saying and what other people are saying and writing about the Magic and other teams in the NBA, so you just got so much out there to take advantage of and so I do. I read a lot and talk to people a lot. As far as the game preparation, I got a routine that I go through for every game. I’ve been doing it, like you said, for a long time so I just get into that game-day mode and get my scorebook, my notes together for the game that night, and I got a lot of information on just a few sheets of paper. I probably use less than 50 percent of it, but that’s not really the point. It’s all about preparation, and then you try to use the information that you have at the right time. That’s really the key. One of the keys to being a good broadcaster … it’s one thing to have all that information but to be able to pull it out at the right time and use it when it’s most pertinent, those types of things can make for a good broadcast. They can separate a good broadcast from a bad one.

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Jul 30

Tracy McGrady Baptizes Mehmet Okur; LeBron James Approves

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Shawn Kemp, Steven Hunter, and Pat Burke on the floor at the same time with McGrady? Egads.

Jul 29

Thursday’s Magic Word

  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: It’s hard to draw any conclusions about how they’ll play together from such a small sample size. My impression, based on their overall performance last season, is that [Brandon] Bass‘ best skill is scoring. 5.8 points in only 13.0 minutes per game last year, on a career-best 51.1% shooting. That’s not bad for a guy still learning the playbook in the playoffs, I suppose. His asset is his mid-range jumper, typically the least efficient shot in basketball. Synergy Sports Technology shows, however, Bass connected on half of his 56 jumpers from within 17 feet of the basket last year, which ties him for 9th in the league among the 141 players who attempted at least 50 shots from that distance. Hyper-specific stat, I know, but again: that’s Bass’ biggest asset. Even when he posts up, he’s more likely to turn, face, and shoot the jumper than he is to try a hook or drive for a layup. And in 92 post-ups last year, he passed the ball 8 times, so you know he’s not likely to give the ball back once he gets it. And [Rashard] Lewis? He can score too. [Stan] Van Gundy‘s been known to run post-ups for him to get his offense going, particularly in third quarters if Lewis didn’t get many touches in the first half of a given game. He’s effective down there because, at 6’10”, there aren’t many small forwards who can handle his size. That’s Lewis’ utility as a combo forward: put him on the perimeter at power forward, and opposing fours can’t keep up with him. Put him in the post, and opposing threes can’t muscle him. For the first three years of his deal, the Magic have heavily leaned on the former strategy. Maybe it’s time to try the latter a bit more. And that’s why, to a degree, you like this news: the Magic aren’t getting complacent. They are looking to make some changes. Not drastic ones–note [Bob] Vander Weide saying “we love [Lewis] at the four the majority of the time”–but changes nonetheless.
  • The rise and fall of Jason Williams.
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk ranks the Orlando Magic third in his off-season power rankings: “They didn’t do much this off-season, other than be involved in Chris Paul rumors. Oh, and they got Chris Duhon, let us never forget that. But as much as they get overlooked, the Magic did not have to do much. This team has been to the NBA finals and the Eastern Conference finals the last two years. They kept J.J. Redick and you’ll see more of him and less of Vince Carter. They will stick with their system of Dwight Howard and guys who can shoot the three, because it works. Jameer Nelson is still good and will have a chip on his shoulder. They still play defense. Overlook Orlando at your own peril, they are contenders.”
  • Royce Young of CBSSports.com: “An article from the Times-Picayune says after hearing Demps’ plan for retooling the roster, Paul is “on board with the team’s direction and will not seek to force a trade.” The Times-Picayune story says the Hornets won’t listen to any offers for Paul. Also mentioned is this quote: “Chris never said anything about a trade, ” a source close to Paul said. “All he said is that he wants to win. He does so much in the community. He hasn’t built those courts around (town) for nothing. Of course, he wants to be here.” Which I find odd because Paul publicly said he’d be open to a trade if the right situation presented itself. This sounds like positive spin from Paul’s camp so in order to not come out looking like a bad guy. Not everyone wants to walk down the road LeBron did just to get a shot at winning. Besides, there have been multiple reports saying CP3 would like to be traded to a contender. Multiple high-profile, plugged-in insiders have reported the same thing. There’s definitely some smoke here. And this report from the Times-Picayune might just be an effort to put out some of the fire.”
  • Basketball-Reference has player photos now!

Jul 29

Interview with David Steele, Part I

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Photo by the Orlando Magic

21 years.

The Orlando Magic have been in existence for 21 years and in each of those years, David Steele has handled the play-by-play duties and called the action on the floor — first on radio for nine years, then on television for 12 years and counting. As such, Steele’s breadth of knowledge with the Magic is impeccable. And Steele has always been one of the very best at his craft, so it should have came as no surprise that he was named the NSSA Florida Sportscaster of the Year in April. The award was the first of Steele’s career. A long overdue but well-deserved honor, without a doubt.

Did I mention that Steele is a reader of Magic Basketball?

Steele is a man of the people and was more than willing to provide his opinion on what went wrong for the Magic in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals, as well as recollect some of his fondest memories at Amway Arena, and more.

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In your opinion, what happened to the Orlando Magic against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals?

Well first, I think you have to talk about what Boston did. We caught a team, just like we caught Atlanta at a time when we were playing extremely well … I just felt like Boston was on a major roll and played outstanding basketball. Rondo was at the very top of his game, Pierce was unstoppable, and I give them a lot of credit. Perkins has always been a tough matchup for Dwight [Howard], just because he’s so big and strong. I think he does as good of a job defensively against Dwight as anybody defensively in the league, so you got that matchup. You had Pierce on a roll. You had Rondo on a roll. Allen was good. I just felt we played a very hot team.

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Jul 29

Rashard Lewis is Expected to See More Minutes at Small Forward

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Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Via George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel:

I had a nice conversation with Magic Bob Vander Weide — now the chief executive officer and vice chairman of the franchise — following Wednesday’s press conference. Glib and insightful as always, Vander Weide addressed the team’s style of play last season.

Not surprisingly, Magic fans can expect some changes.

As many people have barked about in columns, blogs and casual conversations, expect to see Brandon Bass get a lot more playing time at power forward [four slot], a switch that will allow Rashard Lewis to shift to the small forward [three] slot in the lineup. [...]

“In our post-season conversation, Stan [Van Gundy] said he should have practiced Rashard more at the three because on the baseline he’s probably the best post-up three when he plays that position, although we love him at four the majority of the time. If you don’t practice it, you don’t play it.”

Jul 28

Wednesday’s Magic Word

  • George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “There will be some reactionary backlash to the expensive pile of contract extensions and promotions that keep the Orlando Magic leadership team in play for a few more seasons. The ghost of Fran Vázquez will rise up from Spain. John Weisbrod will show up wearing a hockey mask. Little Penny will be there all alone, since Shaq bolted to Los Angeles to schmooze courtside with Jack Nicholson. A lot of stuff has happened since 1989 when the Magic were NBA newbies and won all of 18 games. When you’ve been in business that long, there’s bound to be some regretful hiccups. Steven Hunter, Jeryl Sasser and Reece Gaines come to mind. Frightening images, I know. But if you want to hold the Magic accountable for the bad days at the office, look around and gather a dose of perspective. This organization has bounced back from its mistakes, reinvented itself, and has been a bedrock of stability in a sport where complicated chaos is the first order of business on any given day.”
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Alex Martins and Otis Smith traveled parallel paths to get to where they are. They were born in Jan. 1964. They graduated from college in 1986. And, in 1989, they joined the Orlando Magic organization: Martins as director of publicity and media relations, Smith as a player. They’ll continue to work with each other — and coach Stan Van Gundy — for a while longer, at least. On Wednesday, Magic Chief Executive Officer Bob Vander Weide formally announced that Martins and Smith have been promoted and had their contracts extended by one year to run through the 2012-13 season. Van Gundy has received a two-year contract extension through the 2012-13 season. [...] Martins, who has been elevated to the role of team president, will continue to oversee the team’s day-to-day business operations. Smith, who has been promoted to president of basketball operations, will handle the same duties he had as the team’s general manager.”
  • Head coach Stan Van Gundy made a trip to Paris and visited Mickael Pietrus.
  • General manager Otis Smith is still seeking a third point guard for the Orlando Magic.
  • The Magic are willing to spend — for now: “Orlando Magic Chief Executive Officer Bob Vander Weide understands that his team could end up with the NBA’s highest payroll by the time the 2010-11 season ends. For now, he sounds OK with that — even if it means going further into the league’s punitive luxury tax. [...] Vander Weide indicated that, for now, at least, the team will do what it takes financially to make a run at the NBA title.”
  • Dan Savage of NBA.com states that Orlando is committed to bringing a title to the City Beautiful.
  • Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse: “As part of his two-year extension, Van Gundy will earn an estimated $4.3 million annually, putting him among the top 25 percent of coaches in the league. According to league sources, who confirmed his bonus clause, his contract is much like other NBA coaching contracts in that he will receive only a portion of it if the 2011-12 season is shortened because of the expected labor dispute. Although the Magic were unable to complete a potential trade earlier this summer that could have landed point guard Chris Paul of New Orleans — and they refused even to acknowledge the topic Wednesday — outside league sources confirmed that they indeed were willing to increase their future payroll significantly (i.e., taking Emeka Okafor’s bloated contract) to facilitate the deal.”
  • The Magic are locked and loaded for the future with Van Gundy at the helm.
  • Dwight Howard is the best center in the NBA, according to one writer.
  • Which players for Orlando thrived against the weakest defensive teams in the league?
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