Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 23

Dec 26

The pros and cons of trading Arron Afflalo

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Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images

The Orlando Magic — similar to the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, Charlotte Bobcats and a host of other Eastern Conference teams — are wedged between a tank job and the very real possibility they make the playoffs in a flat-lining East.

This is both good and bad — depending on whom you ask. Many Magic fans are hoping the team took a dive this season. Anything less than a 10 percent chance at the No. 1 pick makes a lot of people unhappy.

The difference between mediocre and awful is smaller than many think, and that’s why trade options for shooting guard Arron Afflalo should not be ignored.

Yes, he’s Orlando’s only real All-Star level talent, and he doesn’t have the stink of losing bleeding into his psyche — at least not yet. So what’s the impetus to trade one of the the best shooting guards in the league?

A lot of people denigrate him because he’s on TV a lot more now, and he’s an editor-in-chief instead of a scrappy blogger, but Grantland’s Bill Simmons described why Afflalo has become a top-five shooting guard in his column from a couple weeks ago, “The NBA’s E-League“:

Afflalo leads all 2-guards in PER (21.46); he’s first in Estimated Wins Added (3.6); he’s third in PPG (22.6); he’s sixth in 3-point percentage (46.3 percent), seventh in FT percentage (85.4 percent) and sixth in FG percentage (48.8 percent); and he’s an excellent defensive player. With James Harden taking the season off defensively (hey, James, you’re not a DH), and Dwyane Wade taking days off left and right like he’s the retiring CEO of a successful company or something, Afflalo is the league’s most reliable 2-guard right now. He’s also one of the league’s best bargains at $7.5 million per year, making him the single best commodity on the trade market right now. It’s true.

This made me re-evaluate whether or not Orlando should trade Afflalo. He continues to look fantastic, and while he’s not as tremendous of a defensive player as people think he is, it’s that amazing shooting that’s leading to graphs about why he’s a top-five shooting guard. No one trades a top-five shooting guard, right?

Here’s Simmons later on in his Magic section, emphasis mine:

Worst-Case Scenario: Doesn’t exist. They’re in the best shape of any Eastern team not named Indy or Miami — they have cost-effective assets, draft picks and cap space. Part of me wants to pull a Tom Ripley on Hennigan and take his job. I’m only half-kidding.

Prognosis: They’ll fade after the All-Star break because of injuries, fake injuries, self-sabotage trades and erratic substitution patterns. I have them happily missing the playoffs. Well done all the way around, Orlando.

So do you trade Afflalo, or has his play through the season’s first trimester turned him into a part of Hennigan’s rebuilding plan? Whenever I’ve got a difficult decision, it’s helpful to create a pro/con list.

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Dec 24

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • Zach Harper of CBSSports.com recaps the Orlando Magic’s loss on Monday: Orlando Magic only played six people in the second half as they nearly erased a 24-point halftime deficit. Arron Afflalo had 16 points in the second half alone and they held New York to just 36.8 percent from the field in the final 24 minutes. Just can’t allow such a big lead for the opposition.”
  • The Magic nearly erased a 24-point lead against the New York Knicks, but fell short in their comeback attempt.
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reports that the end of Hedo Turkoglu’s tenure with Orlando is near: “After spending training camp, the preseason and the regular season in a purgatory of sorts, Hedo Turkoglu’s period of limbo with the Orlando Magic is nearing a resolution. The veteran small forward can expect to have his situation resolved no later than the close of business on Jan. 7.”
  • The NBA is a game of runs and unfortunately for the Magic, they’ve been finding themselves on the wrong end of them lately.
  • Tyler Lashbrook of Orlando Pinstriped Post proposes that Orlando should start Tobias Harris at power forward and move Glen Davis to the bench as the team’s back-up center. It’s a well, thought-out argument.
  • The Magic are entertaining offers for Jameer Nelson and Davis, but are rebuffing any calls for Arron Afflalo.

Dec 23

Grades: New York Knicks 103, Orlando Magic 98

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

 

New York Knicks 103 Final
Recap | Box Score
98 Orlando Magic

Nikola Vucevic
6-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 BLK | 12 REB | 14 PTS | 0

Vucevic got his standard double-double, and he certainly wasn’t afraid to go at Tyson Chandler on either end. Unfortunately for the Magic, Chandler got the best of Vucevic several times when the Knicks used Chandler in the pick-and-roll. Overall, the two starting centers battled to a draw, more or less, which certainly isn’t a bad result against someone as formidable as Chandler.

Victor Oladipo
1-4 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 3 PTS | -23

The only thing saving Oladipo from the full-out F is the fact that he saw no playing time in the second half after proving extremely ineffective in 16 minutes. He didn’t particularly struggle handling the ball so much as he struggled seemingly across the board, most noticeably failing to get involved in much of Orlando’s offense. His defensive impact was negligible as well.

Arron Afflalo
9-17 FG | 5-7 3P | 5 REB | 5 AST | 26 PTS | +4

Afflalo’s game went the opposite of Glen Davis, starting somewhat cold and heating up as the night went along. He knocked down five triples on a night when the Magic only mustered eight makes from beyond the arc as a team, and his pass to a cutting Tobias Harris for a massive dunk started the Orlando comeback in the third quarter. If only a few early jumpers had dropped for him.

Glen Davis
9-21 FG | 2-5 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 20 PTS | +6

Davis started out fairly strong — in fact, his back and forth with Andrea Bargnani on the opening part of the game was one of the most entertaining events of the evening. But as the game went on, he seemed to tire a bit. As a result, he became less efficient, and Bargnani was able to get by him for a couple easy baskets.

New York Knicks

New York did nearly everything they could to give this one away in the second half after building what at one point was a 25-point lead. They managed to hold on in the end, but the win may have cost them. Carmelo Anthony went down in the third quarter with a sprained left ankle that kept him out of the remainder of the contest. Raymond Felton hurt himself, too.

Dec 23

Preview: New York Knicks at Orlando Magic

Essentials

  • Teams: New York Knicks at Orlando Magic
  • Date: December 23, 2013
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Knicks: 8-18
  • Magic: 8-19

Probable starters

Knicks:

  • Raymond Felton
  • Iman Shumpert
  • Carmelo Anthony
  • Andrea Bargnani
  • Tyson Chandler

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Tobias Harris
  • Glen Davis
  • Nikola Vucevic

Advanced stats

Knicks:

  • Pace: 90.0 (29th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 104.0 (19th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 107.5 (25th of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: 94.7 (13th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 100.8 (24th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 105.2 (16th of 30)

Read about the Knicks

Knickerblogger

Dec 23

Rediscovering Tobias Harris

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Tobias Harris played nearly 1,000 minutes for the Magic last season after being acquired from the Milwaukee Bucks in the J.J. Redick trade. But after the season was over, Harris was still somewhat of an unknown quantity. He was a stretch four that didn’t bring much stretch to the position, given that he shot only 31.0 percent from 3-point range. Instead, he thrived taking bulkier opponents off the dribble and aggressively attacking the rim. 

He had stellar base numbers with Orlando, putting up 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks with a 17.0 PER — only six players in the NBA averaged those numbers for the 2012-13 season. But his .524 True Shooting percentage, a measure of efficiency, was below the league average (.536). And there’s also the question of how much of Harris’ production was just stat-stuffing on a bad team.

This season hasn’t done much to answer those questions. He had his start to the season denied by a high ankle sprain, and with so little news surrounding him, I nearly forgot he existed. In a 3-on-3 for ClipperBlog on who the best young Magic player would be, I honestly just forgot about Harris.

Harris is finally back in action, having his best game of the season so far against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday, yet the questions remain. He’s flip-flopped positions from last season, now playing the majority of his time at small forward with Glen Davis healthy. His minutes per game are drastically down, but it’s unclear how much of that is the effect of him coming back from injury.

He’s yet to really breakout this season and is hounded by poor shooting, but more importantly, he doesn’t have an obvious role. Arron Afflalo is the cornerstone of the offense, mainly working off of isolations, post-ups, and screens. Victor Oladipo and Jameer Nelson spend most of their time running the pick-and-roll with the multitude of Magic big men, who are also the occasional recipients of post-ups. Fitting Tobias Harris in will be a clunky task for Jacque Vaughn.

The majority of Harris’ offense last year came on either isolations or post-ups, but there may not be enough touches for him with far more offensive options on the team this season. He’ll have to be the ballhandler in the pick-and-roll more often with his move to the three. That’s something Harris did only sparingly last season, as it accounted for just 2.7 percent of his offense, per Synergy.

The best option may be to keep him as a focal point in bench-heavy lineups, but it remains to be seen if that actually happens.

Harris showed awesome potential last season, but his status for this season hangs in doubt. The good news is that the Magic have another 55 games to figure out what type of player he is.

Dec 22

Grades: Sacramento Kings 105, Orlando Magic 100

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

 

Sacramento Kings 105 Final
Recap | Box Score
100 Orlando Magic

Nikola Vucevic
2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 BLK | 9 REB | 4 PTS | -2

By all accounts, this was Vucevic’s worst performance of the 2013-14 season. He was a total non-factor. He finished with single-digit points and rebounds, committed five turnovers, and fouled out on top of all that. The only silver lining is that he didn’t get outplayed that badly by DeMarcus Cousins, who had a double-double but didn’t have much of an imprint on the game.

Victor Oladipo
5-13 FG | 1-3 3P | 1 REB | 2 AST | 12 PTS | 0

Coming off the bench for the first time since November 16 against the Dallas Mavericks (a span of 16 consecutive games), Oladipo was a spark plug for the Magic on offense. He was aggressive in looking for his shot — 13 field goal attempts in 21 minutes — and he played with a lot of energy, especially in transition, where he used his speed to create scoring opportunities.

Arron Afflalo
9-17 FG | 5-7 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 26 PTS | -5

Ben McLemore, Sacramento’s prized rookie, is getting baptized by fire. First, it was LeBron James posterizing him. Then, it was Afflalo putting him in the “House of Pain” and torturing him in the post. Afflalo’s cruelty was the most severe when he backed down McLemore on the low block and drilled Kobe-like fadeaway jumpers. The rook didn’t stand a chance.

Tobias Harris
7-11 FG | 6-8 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 21 PTS | -1

A high ankle sprain robbed Harris a quarter of the season, so it’s taken some time for him to pick up where he left off last season, when he took the league by storm following the J.J. Redick trade. That player showed up against the Kings. Particularly in the fourth quarter, when Harris went on a scoring frenzy late in the game.

Sacramento Kings

The Kings beat Orlando thanks to a huge fourth quarter from Marcus Thornton, who was the catalyst behind Sacramento’s 18-4 run that turned the tide of the game in their favor. Thornton accounted for 11 of the 18 points during the run — including three backbreaking 3-pointers. The Magic tried to make a comeback, but missed free throws and turnovers doomed them.

Dec 22

Video: Maurice Harkless dunks in transition

Dec 21

Preview: Sacramento Kings at Orlando Magic

Essentials

  • Teams: Sacramento Kings at Orlando Magic
  • Date: December 21, 2013
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Kings: 7-18
  • Magic: 8-18

Probable starters

Kings:

  • Isaiah Thomas
  • Ben McLemore
  • Rudy Gay
  • Jason Thompson
  • DeMarcus Cousins

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Tobias Harris
  • Glen Davis
  • Nikola Vucevic

Advanced stats

Kings:

  • Pace: 94.1 (15th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 104.8 (17th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 109.0 (27th of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: 94.7 (13th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 100.6 (25th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 104.9 (15th of 30)

Read about the Kings

Cowbell Kingdom

Dec 20

Friday’s Mini-Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reveals how much Victor Oladipo has struggled finishing at the rim so far this season: “Oladipo has had his shot blocked 38 times this season — with 31 of those blocks occurring within 5 feet of the basket — according to the NBA’s official statistics database. Through Thursday, only five players have had their shot blocked more often than Oladipo: Evan Turner, Greg Monroe, David Lee, Nikola Pekovic and DeMarcus Cousins.”
  • Arron Afflalo, who missed Tuesday’s game against the Utah Jazz with an illness, expects to play on Saturday versus the Sacramento Kings.
  • Maurice Harkless wants to play more.
  • Orlando Pinstriped Post takes a look at small forward prospects currently in college that could help the Magic next season.
  • The struggle is real for Oladipo, who’s still trying to acclimate himself to the NBA style of play.

Dec 20

Arron Afflalo, the All-Star

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Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

Arron Afflalo is an All-Star. Admittedly, a large percentage of his All-Star credentials is due to the watered-down nature of the Eastern Conference this year. It’s a well-worn, beaten down, deceased horse of a topic at this point.

It’s also inextricably linked to the candidacy of anyone not named LeBron James. Competition across the board in the East is as far removed from fierce as possible, and either as a symptom or the cause of the devastatingly poor play, potential All-Stars are few and far between.

Yet regardless of the performances of his peers, Arron Afflalo is an All-Star. Unfortunately for him, and for Magic fans, not many people know it. While “Spell Check” continues to light up opponents on a nightly basis, most eyes are turned elsewhere, soaking in what they believe to be a more entertaining product involving teams west of the Mississippi River.

And Afflalo did himself no favors with his play last season, which, to put it kindly, was something of a disappointment. Touted as one of the prized acquisitions in the Dwight Howard trade, he failed to play up to expectations, turning in something of a wasted year. The fanfare that surrounded Afflalo upon his arrival in Orlando quickly evaporated, leaving a player alone to find his way back to the spotlight.

To say that Afflalo has had a better season in 2013-14 is to drastically undersell the improvements he’s made and the level at which he’s played.

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